“We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful.” ~ Warren Buffet
For the past several weeks I’ve been asked about alternative investments like bitcoins (and other cryptocurrencies) and shipping containers more than dozen times! My hairdresser, the taxi driver, our neighbor, the life coach, energy healer, etc. wanted to know what I think about these alternative investments. And let me tell you…when your hairdresser wants to know if it’s not too late to buy bitcoin… I know we’re at the top of the market.
I’ve heard about investing in cryptocurrency for the first time over a year ago. It is my rule not to invest in something that I don’t understand. I either don’t invest in it or I research it, take time to understand the investment and then decide if I want to invest my money into it.
What I see right now regarding the hype about cryptocurrencies reminds me the frenzy I witnessed in the 1999-2000 dot-com era when I was working on Wall Street.
Before I share with you my stance on bitcoin and other alternative investments like shipping containers or vending machines, let me share with you what I know.
Bitcoin is a digital currency. It can be saved, spent, and treaded. As a cryptocurrency, Bitcoin is generated through the process of “mining”, which uses your computer’s processing power to solve complex algorithms called “blocks.”
I have no expertise in Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrencies. I do know, however, that when I first heard about Bitcoin in the early 2016, it was priced at ~ $400. Today, at the time of this writing, Bitcoin (BTC) is worth Euro 4,021 and US$ 4,774! That’s almost 12 times higher!
Many people expect to get rich of cryptocurrencies from here on…. I recently spoke with a young woman from Europe who just started trading Bitcoin in July 2017 and is making great returns on her money according to her trading company located in the Middle East…. She plans to pay off her house in a year and retire in a few years.
Maybe Bitcoin fans will get rich. Maybe not. I don’t know.
However, to me this Bitcoin/cryptocurrency frenzy feels like the craze in the Nasdaq Composite Index in 1998-1999.
Cryptocurrency rise in popularity is attributed to a new technology that is used for trading cryptocurrencies – “blockchain” technology, which, from what I’ve heard, is considered to be revolutionary, just like the Internet was in the 90-s. In the 90-s Internet was promised to be a revolutionary technology of the 20th century and it was. However, many internet (aka dot-come) companies failed and many investors lost their shirts….
So, it could very well be that in 15-20 years from now the “blockchain” technology will be used everywhere. However, the likely certainty of the widespread of an innovative technology is not the same as the certainty of making money from it. In other words, there is no guarantee that jumping into the cryptocurrency game at this point is a good money-making opportunity for investors or even speculators.
Look, I admit it – I don’t understand the “blockchain” technology that is fundamental for cryptocurrency exchanges. And I really don’t know how much money one can make from this point on speculating on Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrencies.
What I do feel, however, that we might be at the top (or close to the top) of this cryptocurrency bubble and for me, it’s not worth the risk. The dot-com bubble of the 90-s is a good reminder of what could happen. But again, you may have a different risk appetite and tolerance level than I do.
I was also asked recently about another alternative investment, which provides a passive income opportunity – shipping containers. Again, I am not an expert in this investment opportunity either. However, here is what I do know:
It is income-only, depreciating asset (the value of the containers is decreasing over time due to usage, damage, etc.); it’s not liquid (you have to honor your lease term when you lease your container to the shipping companies); you have to pay fairly high fees to the broker when you buy and rent your containers; and your agreement with the broker is govern by the Chinese or Hong-Kong laws….
On the other hand, you may (subject to negotiation) sell back your depreciated asset to the broker (although at a much lesser price than you paid for it); a promised return on your money (paid monthly or quarterly) is fairly high, in the range of 12%-25%, so you may break even and repay your investment in about half-way through your lease term (the numbers are approximated in this example.)
As you know, every investment has a built-in risk. That doesn’t mean that you should never invest. Risk is not the same as recklessness. Calculated risk is healthy – it makes you pay attention and do your due diligence. It’s also very important to be aware of your risk tolerance.
The ultimate message that I am trying to convey here is that you must invest in what you understand OR make time to understand what you’re going to invest in.
To Your Health, Wealth and Freedom!
I recently saw an article by a ‘wealth guru’ who stated that you “should do both – trading and investing” to create wealth faster. While I appreciate the logic behind this statement, I must admit that the “should’ part put me off. However, I was also intrigued by the idea of sharing with you my stance on trading and investing considering that I have extensive experience in both.
Investing and trading are two very different methods of creating wealth. While there are people who make money by employing either or both methods, it’s very important to be clear which one suits you – your risk tolerance, your time horizon and your financial objectives.
The goal of investing is to gradually and strategically build wealth over an extended period of time through buying and holding income producing and appreciating assets (e.g. rental real estate, individual stocks, baskets of stocks, mutual funds, bonds and other investment instruments.) Investors often enhance their profits through compounding – reinvesting their profits or dividends into additional shares of stock.
Because investors usually hold assets for a longer period of time, they can take advantage of accruing interest, dividends and assets’ value appreciation. Thus, investors are usually able and willing to ride out market fluctuations knowing that markets can rebound and their losses can be recovered. Investors usually use fundamental analysis tools to analyze the assets (e.g. specific company stock, etc.)
Traders, on the other hand, buy and sell assets frequently with an intention to generate quicker and higher returns than ‘buy-and-hold’ investors. For example, while most investors are content with an 8%-10% annual return on their capital, traders might seek an 8%-10% monthly return.
In a ‘bull’ (upward) markets, traders generate profits by buying low and selling at a higher price within a short period of time. In a ‘bear’ (falling) markets, many traders use ‘selling short’ strategy by selling at a higher price and buying at a lower price (to cover their ‘short positions’). Traders often use technical analysis tools to find high-probability trading opportunities.
There are several categories of financial markets’ traders:
In real estate markets, ‘flippers’ or ‘wholesalers’ buy properties with an intention to re-sell them (‘as is’ or after renovating them) within weeks or months. Real Estate investors, on the other hand, buy properties with an intention to receive income, deduct expenses and depreciation, and hold them for a long period of time to enjoy their assets’ appreciation.
If you are an investor, typically it means you are a person who is holding on to assets for the purpose of earning passive income and getting a profit when you sell your assets.
If you are a trader, you attempt to take advantage of short term market swings. You buy an asset when the price is low (in your opinion) then sell it shortly after with an intention to receive a profit from the short-term increase in value of this asset.
Both investing and trading involve risk. However, I consider investing to be a process with a relatively predictable outcome. Excluding market crash or companies’ bankruptcies, you can expect to receive income from rental properties in good economic locations and interest over the life of the bond (and your principal capital at maturity.)
Trading, on the other hand, has outcomes that are more difficult to predict. When one purchases a stock or an equity mutual fund, there is really no way of knowing with 100% certainty in advance whether it will go up, down or sideways. That’s why you must have specific risk management rules when trading.
Is it possible to make a lot of money by trading (aka speculating)?
Admittedly, there are some very successful speculators out there. However, to be successful, most of them do it professionally, have a team of researchers and are very well connected so they get insights on the assets that they speculate on. If you want to be a successful trader (speculator), you may consider doing it full time and follow the successful professional speculators by subscribing to their newsletters, events, etc.
In my opinion, trading is speculation that has nothing to do with investing. As a trader, you are trying to find assets (e.g. stocks, properties) that have shorter-term opportunities. You can make money, and you can lose money very quickly by taking short-term trading positions. It’s a risky proposition in my opinion, especially if you’re not savvy about analyzing financial information. The markets can move swiftly both up and down, so beware and make sure you can stand to lose.
Long-term investing, on the other hand, is about achieving your financial objectives in a methodical strategic way – allowing your financial goals and current financial situation to determine an appropriate investing strategy and build an investment portfolio to satisfy your financial objectives over a period of time.
Think “investing” as a form of planning to send your money into a battle, and “trading” as sending your money into a battle for a quick grab of profitable asset because you believe it’s possible. Ideally you want to have a plan first before any implementations, but in reality, many people are ready to trade because they feel they need to catch up with their wealth creation efforts.
Yes, it is natural to want to get rich fast, and seeing your family, friends, or a wealth coach doing well financially often motivates you even more to catch up. However, these people’ situations may very well differ from yours. They may have a big emergency fund set up or several passive source of income so they’re comfortable with their trading efforts even if they lose from time to time.
And it’s not uncommon when someone feels worried or desperate to make money from trading only to get a double-whammy at the worst time! So, ask yourself, “If I’m a general and have to send my solders to a battle, would I do it without a plan?”
If the answer is No, you know you need to educate yourself more about possible options and investment strategies that are right for YOUR financial situation. And once you get a solid foundation in a form of your financial education, you may want to talk to a financial professionals like a financial adviser or a financial planner to help you implement your financial objectives so that you don’t lose your ‘army in a battle.’
When you have a long-term outlook on your wealth building efforts, you realize that the markets – whether it’s real estate, bond or equity markets – will inevitably rally as well as go through pullbacks. That’s why I like to invest in diversified assets that provide income and compounding opportunity, value appreciation, and allowed deductions.
Therefore, in my opinion, there are NO SHOULDs when it comes to choosing how you grow your wealth. However, it’s important to know your options.
To Your Health, Wealth and Freedom!
P.S. Share you experience with Investing and Trading. What works for you?
Clarity is priceless whether you consider your authentic professional path, your relationships or your money. There are a lot of courses about finding your authentic self-expression and living your purpose.
Very important, indeed!
And as a Wealth Architect and Financial Freedom Mentor for women, I am aspired to empower you with financial clarity and give you the key to the money jail so you could free yourself for good.
How do I do that?
By teaching you how to WIN the Money Game!
You see, I don’t believe that “Money is your Financial Oxygen” as some coaches teach.
Frankly, it’s just too dramatic for my taste.
Money is no-thing – it’s available neutral energy and each of us gives it the meaning we choose to give it.
To me, money is a game we play in our physical world and, as in any game, you must know the rules, have the appropriate skills and go for the WIN! That’s all.
One of the most important skills required to win the Money Game is Effective Money Management. I teach this skill in depth in my coaching and today want to cover some of the important aspects of this skill-set – allocating your money based on its purpose.
Yes, money likes purpose.
You are a spiritual being and succeeding at the Money Game is part of your physical experience your “Earth school.”
Like with everything else, you may go through rough times and good times with your finances. Having the skill to help you navigate through the storm and calm waters of your financial sea is very useful whether you’re already making 6-7 figures per year or still on your way there!
Do you often feel that you don’t have enough?
Do you spend your money wisely?
Do you invest your money strategically?
Do you leverage your money so that the money you already have works for you when you are not working?
Effective money management is a skill-set that you can learn like any other. Although it’s not the rocket science, it requires discipline and a responsible attitude. If you want to change your money habits, you need to replace them with the better ones and practice them consistently. That’s why I like the notion of organizing your money by its purpose.
Organize your money based on its purpose – Saving, Spending and Investing. The amount of each ‘money container’ should be a certain percentage of the total money you currently make. The percentage allocation toward each ‘money container’ may certainly change over time.
For example, a solid financial discipline would be to contribute toward your Savings at least 10% of your gross income. If your current income is mostly used to cover your basic needs, the percent of your allocation toward Saving might be just single digits comparing to your Spending. However, keeping consistent contributions toward your Savings is very important for it helps establish good money habits and create a positive momentum with your money.
Once your income gets higher, you will adjust the allocation percentage accordingly. You should also take into account your risk tolerance and which phase in life you are in. If financial safety is your top priority at the moment and you are heading toward retirement in a few years, you may want to increase the amount allocation toward Savings and decrease percent of money allocation toward risky Investments. This will allow you to avoid feeling uncertain or overwhelmed about your financial future.
To make my point, I am going to use a metaphor of a jar as a money container (obviously, money isn’t really kept in jars but rather in bank or brokerage accounts, credit unions accounts, physical precious metals like gold or silver coins, and property).
IMPORTANT: Keeping all your money together in one container could lead to unwise decisions and financially devastating consequence. Although dividing your money among different categories may not preclude you from making mistakes, maintaining the discipline of adhering to this structure will help you limit your losses and avoid financial ruin.
Imagine that your future income is located deep in the ground, in a money mine, and you first need to extract it—apply efforts to earn it—then divide it into the following three jars:
The objective is to fill all three money jars, which is equivalent to achieving your goal of Financial Freedom. Although this goal may seem to you unrealistic at first, especially if at the moment you have a modest single source of income, it is totally possible! Don’t postpone starting your journey to financial independence – start NOW.
You can also watch my VIDEO that I recently recorded on this topic.
If you feel ready to WIN the Money Game and need a bit of guidance and support – let’s talk.
In the meantime, Think and Live Wealthy!
Millen has a way of opening up conversations that not only make you feel safe to talk about money, but her questions have been so profound that they have made immediate shifts in my mindset and my circumstances have changed almost immediately too, including more money showing up, but more importantly, more and more opportunities. I have found new and inspired direction, and am feeling a lot more peaceful and excited about life in general. Millen offers so much value and a solid advice! She is a big picture thinker and it is infectious! Thank you, Millen, from the bottom of my heart and the top of my soul.
Millen Livis is a gift to humanity. Millen is very generous with her time and energy, sharing her vast life experiences and strengths, empowering me to become a better human being. Millen has impacted my life spiritually, emotionally, physically and financially, by her encouragement and clarity. I have not said, “Thank you!” enough.
Millen brings together an interesting mix of feminine wisdom, clear logic, assertiveness and humility in all of her interactions. With her warmth, intelligence, diverse experience and passion for ‘Dare to be the best you could be’ message, she inspires other women to reach for the goals they set for themselves.
Using laser like energy, Millen gives her full attention to your issue and stays with it until a satisfactory resolution or conclusion is reached. Open minded, yet direct and honest, Millen balances objectivity with compassion. It is a joy to work with her!
I would LOVE to help you create your highest VISION.
Let's get on a call and connect. There’s no obligation whatsoever, guaranteed!
BEST THINGS come to those who seize the moment.