Fire your boss before he fires you … the 50% solution!

There is a cycle of life in the workplace … it begins when you get your first job, and hopefully it ends when you retire.

At least, it used to, when people worked their way up from the shop floor to the executive penthouse by working hard and staying with the same company.

By saving as they could, and relying on a good company pension plan (indexed at a reasonably high percentage of their ‘ending salary’) these loyal, hard-working folk could look forward to a reasonably relaxed retirement at the age of 65.

Not so any more …

A news release published in August 2006 examined the number of jobs that people born in the years 1957 to 1964 held from age 18 to age 40.

According to this report, these younger baby boomers held an average of 10.5 jobs from ages 18 to 40 (In this report, a job is defined as an uninterrupted period of work with a particular employer).

Sometimes, this is because of new/better employment opportunities – or simply due to a change in life circumstance – but, all too often, it is due to being laid off.

This brings me to a recent post on Get Rich Slowly that asked “What To Do If You’re Laid Off?” … I’ll let you read the post and the comments, but I can’t help thinking that you need to put in place a ‘backup’ plan (something a little more meaty than the usual “save up a 3 month savings buffer“).

And, I think that the whole process should begin as soon as you get your first job …

… so, I was pleased to see this really cool post on The Simple Dollar, for all you college kids or school drop-outs out there [AJC: this is an equal opportunity ‘get rich(er) quick(er)’ site!].

The article was called About To Enter The Workplace For The First Time? Try The 50% Solution which really boils down to:

– We all know that Paying Yourself First 10% – 20% of your gross salary is a really cool thing, so

– Starting your very first job by Paying Yourself First 50% of your gross salary must be a really, really, really cool thing?

Read the post for more details, but TSD is absolutely right … why?

A. If you’re used to living on NOTHING, then living on 50% of SOMETHING has gotta be a snap 😉

B. If 10% of your gross salary compounded for, say, 40 years can give you $730,000 then 50% compounded for the same 40 years should give you $3,700,000 [AJC: It won’t be WORTH $3.7 mill. but that’s another story!].

But, as some of that post’s commenters pointed out, it can be very hard to start saving 50% of your starting salary, even if you lived on nothing before, because now you need to buy: food, shelter, transport, and so on.

But, the principle of setting your target much higher (TSD suggests 60/40 … spend 60% save 40%) when you start out and trying to maintain your momentum holds water.

Here is what I think that everybody who is still working for a living should do, regardless of source and amount of income, or their age:

1. Use this post, and the others that I have referred to, as a wake-up call that your job is NOT secure … therefore, your life is NOT secure until you take your future security into your OWN hands.

2. Once you realize that you are taking a financial risk every day at work, it becomes much easier to think about ways to break free. Start by putting as much behind you as quickly as possible, in case the ‘worst’ happens:

i). Commit to an maintain a Pay Yourself First mentality that may be as little as 10% of your current salary or as much as 50% – anything less is not enough … anything more and you are a miser 😉

ii). For any future increase in salary – commit to saving 50% of the increase and putting it to work in your Investment Plan

iii). For any future ‘found money’ including bonuses, tax refund checks, overtime payment, spouse back to work, etc. – commit to saving 50% of the increase and putting it to work in your Investment Plan

iv). Start a part time business – or find another way to increase your income – commit to saving 50% of the increase and putting it to work in your Investment Plan.

Take these actions with the eventual aim of firing your boss before he fires you!

The ONLY three ways to invest in stocks … and, some ways NOT to …

So you want to invest in stocks?

And, why not be a bit of a contrarian by getting in now … when the markets are all beat up, and there is doom and gloom around, that’s when most of the money in this world is made … so, if you do want to invest, how?

Well I covered a bit about this subject in a recent post, comparing Index Funds to ETF’s … but, I want to go into it just a little bit deeper:

First of all you need to understand what type of investor you are:

1. Are you a Speculator – living on the edge, trading stocks/options (i.e. gambling) type? Nothing wrong with that – you could be the next George Soros.

If you are, then sign up for some newsletters and courses, such as the Tycoon Report (has the added advantage of being free!)

2. Or, are you a Value Investor – buying cheap, holding for the long term type? Are you the next Warren Buffet? Obviously, nothing wrong with being the world’s richest man, either.

If you are the next WB, then buy yourself a copy of Rule # 1 Investing by Phil Town. It will tell you exactly HOW to value stocks (what measures to use) and WHEN to invest (what indicators to use).

3. If you don’t have the patience for the latter (2.), or the stomach for the former (1.), then buy yourself some units in a low cost Index Fund … keep buying … and, wait!

That’s it in a nutshell …

… but, wait you say … what about:

4. Mutual Funds – too expensive and 85% of fund managers don’t even beat the market

5. Growth Stocks – if you have no special skill or knowledge, what makes you think that you can beat the Fund managers in 4.? You can’t (unless, you are lucky … then you are really just back at 1.).

Did I miss anything?

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Do you know how much you will retire on?

If you are like most Americans, the chances are that you have virtually no idea how much you will be able to retire on …

In fact, only 1 in 3 do. And, everybody else in the world is pretty clueless, too … at least according to this AXA survey:

Do you know how much you will retire on?

It gets worse, of those who do know (or think they know) how much they will retire on almost half don’t think it will be enough:

Retirement Shortfall

… and, I bet that 90% of the other half are simply settling for a LOT LESS than their dream retirement.

Don’t let that be you … start by working out your Number, and let’s go from there …

When is investing gambling?

I was browsing a new finance forum the other day and came across a great question from a self-confessed ‘beginner investor’.

He asked:

“Where can I learn how to trade with a few thou for the short term (<3mo) with greater than 20% return. I’ve never invested anything. I know that long term investing seems much easier from what i’ve read ie. value investing with stock screens, but what is another good strategy? I am looking for a strategy, teacher, website, anything to start learning, but with a goal of putting money in the market. I’m not interested in funds or managers.”

That, my friends, is called ‘gambling’ not ‘investing’!

You see, when evaluating ANY so-called ‘investment strategy’ you have to consider the return that you can make against ‘market norms’ …

… which is a very simple way of saying “if I can do it … and I don’t have any SPECIAL INSIDER KNOWLEDGE that makes me SPECIAL … then why isn’t EVERYBODY doing it?”

The answer is, of course, is: it’s simply NOT possible … otherwise EVERYBODY would be doing it, already!

… unless you get extremely lucky (which is why what you want to achieve is called ‘speculating = gambling’).

A friend and I had a similar conversation the other day …

He is becoming a professional speaker and consultant; he has already made a great start by writing and self-publishing a book and already has some paid speaking engagements.

BUT, his target is to earn $200k next year … just from speaking/consulting, as a near-beginner!

So I asked him: “How many corporate executives, with expertise in your specific area [customer service] earn anything close to your $200k target right now?”

He said: “Not many … that’s a BIG corporate salary …”

Next, I asked him: “How many of them could write and speak about customer service?”

He answered: “Probably a lot more than you’d expect, especially if they knew that was $200k on the line …”

“Exactly!” I said, almost jumping out of my chair: “So, why would any of them work for somebody else, if they could simply write a book then earn $200k … with the added benefit of lots of travel, flexible hours, and no boss?”

“Hmmmm” he said, his brain obviously (finally) ticking over: “They wouldn’t!”

Which was exactly the point that I was trying to get across:

It simply CAN’T be DONE, by the average person … otherwise, they would all be doing it!

Of course, there are PLENTY of speakers and consultants earning $200k or way more – as there are plenty of people in all areas of ‘investment’ (stocks, options, currencies, futures, real-estate, business, etc, etc) earning outstanding returns even in a crappy market – but …

… they generally have SPECIAL INSIDER KNOWLEDGE that makes them SPECIAL … or, they work MUCH harder than anybody else and/or they get extremely LUCKY …

So, what would you tell our ‘Beginner Investor’?

I would say, when evaluating any opportunity or even your own investing goals and strategy consider:

1. Are you investing – in which case, you should expect ‘normal’ rates of return over the long haul, or

2. Are you really gambling – in which case, the sky is the limit … but, the ground could equally rush up to meet you …

depending upon how lucky you get.

BOTH have a place in your journey towards $7million in 7 years (or whatever target you set for yourself)  … it’s how I did it …


But, always be very clear on when and why you are investing and when and why you are gambling.


I’d like to hear your views …