Manifesto

“If you reach for a star, you might not get one.  But you won’t come up with a hand full of mud either.”

Leo Burnett

I came across this quote many years ago and, looking back, it’s the way my life has unfolded.  Personally, I never got that star but things have been pretty damn good and the reaching was fun.  I’m still at it.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way:

Spend less than you earn – invest the surplus – avoid debt

Do simply this and you’ll wind up rich.  Not just in money.

If your lifestyle matches or, god forbid exceeds, your income you are no more than a gilded slave.

As individuals we only have one obligation to society:  To make sure we, and our children, are not a burden to others.

The rest is your personal choice.  Make your own and make the world a far more interesting place.

While giving is a fine and pleasant thing, no one has an obligation to do so.  Anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell you something, most likely the idea of giving to them and/or their pet project.

Spend sparingly.  Tip generously.

You own the things you own and they in turn own you.

Money can buy many things, but nothing more valuable than your freedom.

With out F-you Money you are a slave.  If you have debt, you are a slave with still stouter shackles.

You weren’t born to be a slave.

Carrying debt is as appealing as being covered with leeches, and has much the same effect.  The idea that many, indeed most, people seem to happily cover themselves with debt is so beyond my understanding it is hard to imagine how, let alone why, the downsides would need be explained.

Take out your sharpest knife and start scraping the little blood-suckers off.

On luck:

  • If life hasn’t been turning out the way you’d hoped, take a moment.  Look around.  Open your eyes.  There might just be some luck flowing past waiting for you to grab it.
  • If you are basking in the glow of your hard work, initiative and success, congratulations.  Now, when you’re done patting yourself on the back, take a moment and give a little thanks.

Travel slowly, avoid the sights, linger in outdoor cafes, talk to the locals, leave your camera at home, do it now, do it while you’re young.

The problem with Beanie Babies, or anything else produced as a collectible, is that when people buy them they save them.  They will never be rare and rare equals value.

 Fads, manias and bubbles:  What they all have in common is that by the time you start reading about them everywhere, the end is near.

It’s OK for the other guy to get a deal, too.

You can’t pick winning stocks:  

If you choose to try to best the averages, God Bless and God Speed. You may well be smarter and more talented than I. You are most certainly likely to be better looking. I’ll look for your name along with Warren and Peter’s in the not too distant future.  I extend the same to all those folks I’ve met in Vegas who assure me they have bested the house. I listen, gaze up at the billion dollar casinos and reflect on how many smarter, more talented and better looking people there are than me.

Index funds.  End of story.

Vanguard.  End of story.

This whole civilization thing has been a huge mistake and we’d all be better off as hunter/gatherers.  But since we do live in this complex, technical world you had best learn about money.  Money is the single most important, effective tool in navigating it.

Sound investing is not complicated.  Complicated investments make money only for those selling them.

Keep a mental list of people you’d like to have a cup of coffee with.  Invite them.

Read.

There is nothing you can’t learn, no place you can’t go, if you read.

Comments
  1. Andria says:

    Hi,

    Yes, I wanted to know where to get started on your blog. :). Thank you very much for the information so I can get started!!!!!!

    Andria

  2. Andria says:

    Hi,

    I found this site off of MMM. I am 34 and I want to spend the next 20 years investing as much as possible. I only have 70k saved. 30k in a roth Ira at Scottrade in stocks and another 30k at scottrade in stocks but in a Ira. Then I have 10k in a 401k.

    Just turned my life around in January after discovering MMM. I have 4k for emergency and I put 500 in a month making 3% at the bank.

    Any suggestions or where should I start reading first?

    I want to invest in other things but not sure where to start I want to try and retire by 54 but not sure were to put the money.

    • jlcollinsnh says:

      Hi Andria….

      Welcome and congratulations on the new path you’ve chosen for yourself.

      I’m going to arrogantly assume that when you ask “…where should I start reading first?” you are referring to on this blog. :) Here you go:

      https://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com/2011/06/14/what-we-own-and-why-we-own-it/

      https://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/how-i-failed-my-daughter-and-a-simple-path-to-wealth/

      https://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/putting-the-simple-path-to-wealth-into-action/

      From there I’d read the stock series starting here:

      https://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/stocks-part-1-theres-a-major-market-crash-coming-and-dr-lo-cant-save-you/

      Finally, I just finished being interviewed here:

      http://www.madfientist.com/jlcollinsnh-interview/

      …in case you get tired of reading.

      please feel free to comment and ask questions along the way.

    • Andria says:

      Hi,

      Thank you for letting me know where to start reading.

      I have a few questions and I could use some advice please.

      I started contributing 40% of my salary which is almost $700 every two weeks to a 401k that is at Fidelity to the following funds:

      Asset Class Subclass Fund Name Current %
      Stock Investments LARGE CAP FID CONTRAFUND K
      20%
      Stock Investments MID-CAP FBR FOCUS INV
      20%
      Stock Investments SMALL CAP ALLNZ NFJ SMCPVAL AD
      20%
      Stock Investments INTERNATIONAL AF EUROPAC GRTH R4
      20%
      Blended Fund Investments LARGE CAP FID BALANCED K
      10%
      Bond Investments INCOME PIM TOTAL RT INST
      10%
      Total: 100%

      Total current balance 10K Is this okay?

      Then I have a IRA through Scottrade of stocks that total 30K.
      Then we have Two Roth IRA accounts that total 30K through Scottrade of stocks and I am doing the max 10K contribution now.

      I am saving $500.00 a month in a savings account that is giving me 3%. My balance is 4k

      After reading your blog I am thinking I may need to change some things around. I want to start the VTSAK fund as well.

      Should I go in the VTSAK for a IRA or a mutual fund? I am thinking if I do IRA I could roll over the 33K from my Scottrade IRA and get it going. Then I will contribute any extra money to the VTSAK fund each month. Then keep my Roth IRA’s through Scottrade. Any suggestions would help. Or is this too much stock and should I do some bonds?

      I have never invested as much money as I do now so it is scary. : ) I like what you did for your daughter helping her to find something she does not have to constantly worry about. I need that. We are 34 so we are trying to save as much as possible for the next twenty years.

      Thank you and thanks for what you do. I am so excited to have found your blog and i signed up.

      Andria

      • jlcollinsnh says:

        Hi Andria…..

        Looking at your 401k, the good news is that you have the US market covered with the small, mid and large cap funds. You’ve also got some international and some bonds.

        The bad news is you are using 6 funds to do it and they are likely high cost ratio choices.

        1st, you can dump the balanced fund. It is just duplicating what you have in the others. Hopefully you can dump some others as well.

        Personally, I don’t see the need for International as I describe here: https://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/stocks-part-xi-international-funds-2/
        or Bonds at your age.

        But if you want them, Fidelity has an interesting “fund of funds” fund that covers every thing you have in those six: FFNOX, Fidelity Four-in-One Index Fund. It has a reasonable expense ratio of .23%. If that’s an option in your 401k, it’s all you need. Assuming you want the International and bonds. If not all you need is one of these:

        Your 401k almost certainly will offer one of these Total Stock Market Index Funds:
        FSTVX or FSTMX. The first has the lower cost @ .07% so I’d go with that if you can.

        If not, it’ll likely offer one of these Index 500 funds: FUSVX or FUSEX. Any of these four work well.

        VTSAX is an excellent choice for your Roths and IRA.

        As for this being scary, be sure to read Stocks — Part I and the rest of the series. That should help you decide if and when you want to smooth out the ride with the REIT and Bond funds.

        In another week or so I’ll be publishing a post on Target Retirement Funds. https://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/stocks-part-xv-target-retirement-funds-the-simplest-path-to-wealth-of-all/ These make things even simpler than the Simple Paths I’ve described. You might find them of interest, too.

        Stay tuned, and thanks for subscribing!

      • Andria says:

        Okay great, thanks for taking the time to respond. I appreciate it and I am going to look into changing my Fidelity account asap.

        Andria

  3. Trish Rempen says:

    I agree with Stoic Investor. Now that I know, I share your blog with everyone who might pay attention.

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  6. jlcollinsnh says:

    Thank you, Mr. Stoic…

    …it only took me five decades and countless mistakes to get here. :)

  7. This is a great manifesto. Sadly, it has taken me much later in life to learn much of what you mention here. Now that I have it, I’m on a roll :-)

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