Starting at 14!

I remember when I was 14! I know it seems pretty young and it is, however I remember being able to make decisions about my money and that, I believe, is a turning point in everyone’s life – when you can begin to make decisions that will create your future.

In my case, I had worked in prior summers either picking blueberries or planting trees but the money I earned was not that much and I don’t really remember that much about it. I do recall that I bought a bicycle with blueberry money.

But the summer I was 14 was different. With my best friend, I approached the village to see if they would hire us on a local construction project at $2.25 per hour. It was labour work and we worked for 4 weeks to make $360 and thought we were rich!

As I mentioned, I was able to make decisions about that money and I remember deciding to spend $300 plus 8% tax for a total of $324 of the $360 on a minibike. On the surface it does not seem like a great decision but for a 14 year old it seemed perfect with $36 left for gas for the rest of the summer!

My parents were likely thinking it a bit foolish but what struck me then and still does is that I could decide – it really was up to me!

That the financial decisions in your life are up to you, beginning quite early in life, is the point of this post. In my case, the fact that I had a minibike at the age of 14 and no money left was no one’s decision but mine, and the consequences of those decisions are no one’s fault but my own.

I have often thought about having more wealth in my life, financially, and when I think that it might be someone else’s fault that I have less than I have, I always think back to that decision at 14 and realize that I made all financial decisions since then!

So let’s go back to that decision at 14 and using hindsight consider what could have happened to that $360 if I had treated it differently. Let us look at that money as possible savings and what it would have turned into at 50!

If I look at what would happen to my $360 if I had invested it at 14 generating a return of 2% per month, I would have $1,832,215 at the age of 50 without having to invest another cent in the 36 years. Even investing $200 of the $360 would have given me over $1 million at the age of 50.

So just so sum up the point I am making with this post; the fact that I had a minibike at 14, a decision that I made, is the reason that I do not have the $1,832,215 now. As hard as it may seem to realize that, it is the reality and it is very powerful to know that.

All financial decisions are yours – make them wisely starting as early as 14!!

The Taco Bus

You have to go here to eat if you are in Tampa, or anywhere near Tampa – it is worth the trip – the food is amazing!  We saw it on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and never miss a chance to eat at the bus if we are anywhere near Tampa.  The website is here.

 

Honestly folks – don’t miss it!!

What is going on with bond yields?

Bonds are kind of a funny thing actually.  Many people think of a bond as something that is totally safe to invest in – buy a $1,000 bond and it will pay you the 3% interest annually – you can depend on that – right?  Well yes, that is true, but what do they mean then about bond yields going up – how can that be?

Actually a good explanation of this can be found here.  Basically your bond that pays $30 a year in interest has a yield of more than 3% if someone can buy it for less than the $1,000 face value.  And buying the bonds for less than the face value is exactly what is going on right now.

There is so much happening right now in global financial markets it is difficult to keep it all straight.  Basically the central banks all over the world have been printing new money for a long time – starting in the US!  Before the recession in 2007 the US central bank (the Fed) had between $700 B and $800 billion in treasury notes on its balance sheet.  Since then, the Fed has been buying treasury notes to end up with $4.5 trillion in treasury notes on its balance sheet when they decided on September 18, 2014 to stop the bond buying.  An explanation of this money printing can be found here.  They call it Quantitative Easing – imagine.

This $3.7 trillion of bonds that the Fed has purchased was done by electronically printing $3.7 trillion new dollars and dumping them into the financial system.  And it was not just the US.  The Brits have done it, the Europeans are now doing it to try to kick-start the economy there.  Japan – well they are the masters of printing money and the Chinese are now doing it too.  The world is awash in cash.

While the central banks have been doing that to try to stimulate the economy they have also been lowering interest rates for 8 years now!!  The rates are so low that they are basically zero and in Europe it has reached the point that you must pay the bank to put money in – so basically negative interest rates.  In this environment, many many bonds have been issued because every country (and every state and every city) spends more money than they bring in and therefore have to borrow money to get by.

The demand for cash by countries running deficits and being in debt has been and continues to be over the top – so bonds continue to be issued (basically promises to pay the cash back later) to get their hands on cash.  As interest rates have gone down, it seems easier and easier for the countries to issue bonds and borrow more and more because the interest cost is so low with the low rates.  It is actually similar to the low interest rates on mortgages – many people have purchased more expensive houses because the rates are low and therefore they can afford (for now) a more expensive house.

But now, there is talk of interest rates rising.  The US Fed is talking about it – originally Janet Yellen started to hint that they might begin raising rates in June.  It now seems to be more likely in September (that is today – it will likely change to December tomorrow, or maybe Friday when payroll data comes out).

This kind of talk is party what is driving up bond yields.  The people who now own bonds at a very low interest rate may be thinking that if they sold their bonds and waited until the rates are raised, they might get a higher interest rate – so…they are selling bonds.   When lots of people sell, the price drops and with a lower price on the bond and the fixed rate of interest, the new buyer gets a higher yield.

And today, Yellen is talking about the price of equities being high – likely too high.  Well, that has been pretty obvious for quite a while – I am glad that Yellen is starting to see it (you can likely tell that I am not fan of Ms. Yellen).

My view is that the bond yield issue has been a long time coming.  Personally I sold a bond fund last October after the Fed stopped printing money and after the price of oil dropped in November when Saudi Arabia decided to start burning the boat they live on and the oil price tanked, I bought an oil stock mutual fund with the money from the bond fund.  The financial turmoil will continue – and it is difficult to figure out what will happen.  The trillions of dollars, or Yen or Euros that are out there will have to go somewhere – bonds seems bad, stocks are likely to go down, etc., where is the money and where will it go – it will be an interesting six months.

Gold!! Is it worth more than its price now…or less?

There are articles written every day saying that gold is only about a week or so away from going up 5 times the current price!  And, there are articles written every day saying that gold is going to crash and there is no support for the current price!

There are many articles written that the price of gold is being manipulated by governments and there are many many theories on this and it is fascinating to read them.   Many of these writer suggest that the central bank approach worldwide to printing money will eventually cause the value of the dollar to crash and gold will skyrocket as a result – might be true, might not, depending on your point of view.

There are a number of websites that you can follow to read about gold.  One that is interesting, although certainly in the “someone is manipulating the price” side of things is here.  There are lots of interesting articles here and you can learn lots from reading them.  Another site that I use is Kitco – lots of information to learn there too.

Making $ on Gold whether Up or Down.

in my opinion there is a way to make money on gold whether you believe either side of the up or down argument. I tend to watch the stocks of gold mining companies.  When the price of gold goes down, the percentage drop on gold stocks is usually more and when gold goes up – the percentage rise on the stocks is usually higher.  To me, that is an opportunity to make money.  It takes care and constant attention, but can be done.  Yes there is risk, but leaving your money to a bank that wants to pay you 2 % while the cost of living is going up more than that is a slow risk that will eventually make you poor.

Gold stocks, like any other business, take a lot of time to learn about, learn how the stocks react to economic events but don’t believe there is no way to make money in that business – read, learn and you can make money too.

Beware however – lots of people have lost money in precious metals – could happen to you too if you don’t learn and use that knowledge to your advantage.

Mazdaspeed3

Before I bought the Mazdaspeed3 I used to see them around and thought they looked cool.  I had no idea what happen when you put a turbocharger on an already powerful engine.  I used to think my car was going fast when it hit about 180 km/hr on my old car.  In the Mazdaspeed3 the feeling of it accelerating hard at 240 was enough to make me lift my foot.  My thought was that things happen fast at 200 ft/sec and I was not willing to approach a moose at that speed – but wow, this car will go.

Just another thing that you can do with your wealth – nice cars are nice!

Albert County

Well – my sister came to visit and suggested that I write about Albert County – where I grew up – where I learned so much from my mom and dad about how to be a good citizen and where I always feel at home.  Albert County is an amazing place to visit – pretty unique place in this crazy world we live in.  It is beautiful, a little redneck yet was where the 11th Prime Minister of Canada hailed from.  My family has deep roots in Albert County as does everyone who had the opportunity to grow up there.  There are so many things to see and be excited about there – you have to add it to your list of places to visit.

RB Bennett grew up in Albert County and although he studied law in Halifax and moved to Calgary in the then North-West Territories where he eventually became Prime-Minister of Canada from 1930 to 1935.  He retired to England and actually became the only Canadian Prime Minister to be elevated to Viscount and was actually called Viscount of Hopewell as one of his titles – Hopewell is in Albert County.

Albert County has “the Rocks”, underground lake, Hayward Pinnicle, the world’s highest tides (although Nova Scotia will argue this) in the Bay of Fundy, the world’s best lobster ( yes Gordon Ramsey does not know his lobster) and so much more.

I plan to write more about this amazing place.  Although there are many places like this in the world, it is the place where my 80 year-old mom goes to the nursing home to take care of “the seniors” – how can you not like a place like that!!

Valley of the Moon Winery and San Francisco

In June of 2013 we took our annual anniversary trip to San Francisco, CA and added in Sonoma wine country and a nice getaway to Bodega Bay.  It is hard to explain California to those who have not visited – there is just so much do see and do that it is like going to lots of different places – but all just a short (or longer) drive away.

The title of the post is Valley of the Moon Winery and I will get back to that shortly here, but first, I wanted to talk a bit about San Francisco.  Firstly, it is difficult to get good weather in SF but it really doesn’t matter – it is just a really cool place.  Just riding cable cars could keep me busy for a week; the food is amazing (just the Dungeness Crab is worth the trip), and the interesting history of the city all combine to make it one of our favourite places.  One thing you should do if you get a chance is to try a “speakeasy” bar.  We went to Bourbon and Branch a really cool speakeasy bar – you have to try it out. You will have to find the password to get in online before you go because you have to knock on the hidden door and give the password to get in – but worth the visit.

Just north of the city of SF, across the Golden Gate Bridge you start to see signs of wine country almost immediately.  Sonoma county is such a fun way to visit wine country.  We liked Sonoma much more than Napa.  We found Napa to be too commercial for us but Sonoma wa more quaint, small country roads in all directions with small interesting wineries to be found all over.  We visited a few wineries and tasted wines – a very relaxing day.  After a few wineries it becomes a little difficult to decide which of the wines you like best – which brings me to Valley of the Moon winery.  We visited Valley of the Moon later in the day and therefore didn’t expect to have a wine show itself like this one.  The 2009 Cuvée de la Luna Cabernet Sauvignon was the wine we tried and we ended up buying 6 bottles of the wine when we are only allowed to bring 4 back to Canada – it was just that good!   I have added the link to the Valley of the Moon Winery so that you can check the place out and hopefully get out there and try the wine.

Beyond Sonoma, explore a bit whether it is Santa Rosa, Bodega Bay or driving the Russian River Valley it all so interesting to see.  If you have a couple of days and you just want to relax, consider the Sonoma Coast Villa and Spa in (or almost in ) Bodega Bay.

I could go on and on about Northern California but don’t take my word for it – go and see it – and taste it!!!

 

Silver Streaming – interesting investment

When I first read about silver streaming companies, I thought it was a crazy idea – how could a company exist that was a mining company of sorts that actually did not mine anything.  Silver streaming companies enter into a contract with mining companies who are actually mining something else such as base metals or gold, etc. and silver is a by- product of the mining business.  The advantage of having a by-product like silver that is actually a precious metal is that the by-product is worth a lot of money.

The mining company can enter into a contract with a streaming company such as Silver Wheaton, the worlds largest silver streaming company to use the silver by-product to finance the mining operation.  The financing deal with a streaming company is great for both the streaming company and the mining company since the mining company get money up front from the streaming company to develop the mining operation and the streaming company gets a reliable stream of silver – their product down the road.

Streaming companies are big!  Silver Wheaton for example had 2014 sales of $620 M and a net income of $199 M.

If you are looking at the idea of investment in precious metals now because you might  be losing confidence in financial investments, silver streaming might be a choice you want to look at.  At the current time, silver is priced pretty low, in my opinion.  The price of silver on April 24th when I am writing this is $15.74 an ounce which I consider to be quite low.  Four years ago on the same date in 2011 it was $46 an ounce.  For those not used to precious metals prices – this might seem crazy but that is the market.  Is it worth more now – is it a good buy – could be!

Have a look at silver streaming as an investment and have a look at Silver Wheaton as an investment in that sector – do some research on Silver Wheaton – looks pretty good to me.

Silver Wheaton website is here.