Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Enjoying the Market Rally

"Rule #1: Never lose money." ~ Warren Buffett

I have stopped trying to reconcile the disconnect between the stock market and the looming economic crisis.   Instead, I am now accepting that we are in a new bull market and enjoying the investment gains.  I expect the rally and gains will be sustainable until the election, and perhaps even longer.  Thus, I am holding the majority of our positions to experience a gain from the rally.

However, I remain cautious and continue to be skeptical.   During this rally, I am putting only limited additional funds into few stocks, specifically precious metal ETFs. eg. SGOL, and a few select tech stocks, e.g. ESTC and FSLY .   These will be speculative trading positions rather than long term holds.  In addition, I will try to sell off some of the beaten up energy and REIT stocks I bought in March 2020.

With this approach, we will be ready for the next market decline, whenever that occurs.

Disclosure: At the time of posting, we owned shares of SGOL.

For more on The Practice of Personal Finance, check back Wednesdays  for a new segment.

This is not financial nor investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Will Economic Disaster be Avoided?

Investors in the stock market seem to think so. The Fed is trying to do so.   Congress is trying to make it so.

Still I'm not so sure.   The depth of the recession is being mitigated by the Stimulus package which included loans/grants to businesses, stimulus payments and $600/week bonus unemployment payments.  Stimulus payments are done, bonus unemployment ended this week, and loans/grants will reduced impatct until October 1.    Many small businesses are also closing for good.   Lots of economic cliffs.   

In addition, the pandemic is getting worse in many states, and overall, in the U.S.

Although we've been trickling in a small amount of funds into stocks that will thrive in a COVID-19 environment, I'm still concerned that the bleak economic scenario will eventually prevail and bring down the stock market again.

But then again, the Fed, Congress and/or the Trump administration may deliver a miracle, avoiding a deep recession and driving the stock market to new highs.

For more on Reflections and Musings, check back Saturdays for a new segment.

This is not financial, economic, nor investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Friday, July 24, 2020

COVID-19 Pandemic Adjustments

"The future is now." ~ George Allen, NFL football coach

With the COVID-19 crisis continuing, it new normal will look different from the normal before the pandemic.  Here's how it will be different:

  • Vacations.   Will plan only a few weeks out.   Will drive and stay at hotels will published safe practices. 
  • Outside entertainment.   Will eat out occasionally, at  restaurants that stay well below capacity.  Avoid bars and theaters. Will continue to use our fitness club pool since safety precautions have been implemented.  Will check crowds at the local amusement park once since we have season passes.  Probably will go skiing at local resort in the winter, since it usually has low crowds on weekdays..
  • Investing.  Focus on preserving capital.   With the uncertainty of COVID-19, market volatility may result in sharp market declines.
  • Enjoy the present.   Do more with family.  Utilize our home entertainment options: pool table, foosball, outdoor fireplace, Netflix, Disney+ and various games. Build skills and take lessons.
Of course, if there is a successful vaccine, we can return the previous normal.  However, I expect a new normal will be more likely.


For more on Reaping the Rewards, check back Fridays for a new segment.

This is not financial nor retirement advice advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Returning to School this Fall

Our school district has decided to make both face to face learning and virtual learning, leaving it up to parents and students to decide.  We've decided to let our kids return to school. 

Of course, there can be a lot of changes before the start of school which can affect school:  ranging from worse COVID-19 to a significant improvement.      Still lots of uncertainty.   

Then again, life is uncertain.  We make the best choices we can and move forward.  That may be biggest COVID-19 lesson for our kids.

For more on Crossing Generations, check back Thursdays for a new segment.

This is not financial nor pandemic advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Keeping the Winning Stocks

I define stocks that recovered from the March 2020 lows and reached new 52 week highs as "winning" stocks.   Not only did they rebound, but in some cases are 2-4 times more than the March 2020 lows.

In my case, I took the opportunity to sell many of the "winning" stocks I own not long after they reached their 52 week high.    For many of the stocks, that was too soon, since they often went significantly higher after I sold.     I generally kept the stocks that didn't rebound as much, often because they had a paper loss.   

In reviewing my results, I learned I would have been better off selling the under performing rebound stocks, and keeping the "winning" stocks.  I would have booked some gains from the bottom on the under performing stocks, although for a loss  However, the "winning" stocks would continue to rise, resulting great overall net gains for the portfolio.

Keep winners and sell under performers will be a strategy I plan to implement for future investment decisions.  It's always been tough for me to sell losing stocks, since there is chance they may recover.    But usually my losing stocks rarely recover and keeping going down.  So I will need to develop a system that allows me to execute this strategy despite my tendency to keep losing stocks longer than I should.

For more on New Beginnings, check back every Sundays for a new segment.

This is not financial nor investing advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Feeling Great, Good and Bad about Investment Performance

"It's hard to make predictions, especially about the future." ~ Yogi Berra

Feeling Great

In 2019, I began trimming our equity investments due to the yield curve inversion, which historically has preceded a recession and bear market.   Admittedly, I missed out on some 2019 gains and early 2020 gains, but I experienced much less pain when the market crashed in March 2020.

As a result, I did not sell any stock holding during the bear market decline of March 2020.   We held every share down to the bottom.

Feeling Good

We bought some additional shares in late February and early March.  We did most of our buying up to March 23, 2020.     Some shares bottomed later in April and we bought those companies until then.

I sold many of the shares purchased near March 23 on the rebound,  after 15-25% gains, sometimes in less than a few days. 

Feeling Bad

I was expecting the decline to go further and the recovery to take longer.   Thus, I didn't buy large quantities.    I also didn't hold the shares long enough, missing out on 50, 100, and even 200% gains.

In addition, I avoided buying growth stocks that had fallen significantly, e.g. Shopify, Tesla , which I had owned before and sold.   Those stocks are now significantly higher than their pre-COVID hights.

In Conclusion

Overall, we did OK.   Our total investments are slightly above the beginning of the year, and are close to the all time high in February, 2020.   However, I still feel bad I missed out on the opportunity to buy more stocks that ended up doubling, tripling or even quadrupling their March 2020 low.

For more on  Reflections and Musings, check back Saturdays for a new segment.

This is not financial nor investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Friday, July 17, 2020

Set My Financial Goal Too Low

When I was growing up, becoming a millionaire was considered an aspirational financial goal.  Very few people had a million dollars  and my parents bought a new house for $28,000.  A million dollars seemed very unattainable.  In 1965, there were 100,000 millionaires in the US.

Today, a million dollars seems much more achievable. In 2020, the there are over 18 million millionaires in the US.   That house I grew up in is valued at $421,000 on Zillow.   Many families have dual incomes, leading to over a million dollars salary over their lifetime.

I should have set a $100 million as a financial goal.   In 2020, there were about 80,000 households with over $100 million, which is close to the number of millionaires in 1965.  $100 million would have been a appropriate inflation adjusted goal.

For more on Reaping the Rewards, check back  Fridays for a new segment.

This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Thursday, July 16, 2020

The Opportunity of a Lifetime

The youth of today have been handed a gift.    With all the turmoil, there is a great opportunity for future success.   Yes, there will be winners and losers.  Losers will be the status quo.  Winners will be the change agents.

Be agile, be adaptable, be ready for change and be a winner.

For more on Crossing Generations, check back Thursdays for a new segment.

This is not financial nor skills advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Usual Market Drivers Not Working

This stock market does not make sense to me based on the usual indicators that I'm used to.   There is too much optimism given the looming issues, including unemployment, recession risk, looming evictions and COVID-19 resurgence..   

Maybe this time is different.

Fed monetary support and Federal government intervention is keeping the market and economy from falling. 

The U.S. is mostly a service sector and much less a manufacturing sector.

The future is much brighter than the risks forecast.

Maybe it's just because I'm old and old school and the old indicators are no longer valid. If the market keeps going up the rest of the year, it may be time for me to quit managing our investments:-)

For more on Crossing Generations, check back  Thursdays  for a new segment.

This is not financial nor investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Let's Fully Open the IRS

I'm a frustrated taxpayer.

I submitted my return by mail in mid April 2020.  Where's My Refund app does not yet acknowledge receipt.

I finally was able to talk to customer service at the IRS last week and was told that the offices won't be staffed to work on mail returns until August 1, 2020. 

Please get the IRS fully open soon so that mail in returns can be processed.

For more on  Ideas You Can Use, check back  Tuesdays for a new segment.

This is not financial, pandemic or tax advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Monday, July 13, 2020

Either a Buy-the-Dip Day or a Stop-Loss-Selling Day

Tomorrow, either traders will buy the dip and keep the market from falling, or stop loss orders will be executed and take the market down further.

I'll be prepared for either scenario.

For more on Strategies and Plans, check back Mondays for a new segment.

This is not financial nor investing advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

One Investing Theme

I've been looking at some of the stock with rocket recoveries since the March 2020 bottom:  WIX, SHOP, SQ and others.  A common theme is that they are companies that can positively impact small business operations.   WIX is a website tool for small business.  SHOP works with small businesses for online orders, including websites.   SQ is a payment processor for small businesses. 

Probably too late to buy now, but worth considering if/when the market pulls back.

Full Disclosure:  We own shares of SQ at the time of this posting.

For more on  Ideas You Can Use, check back Tuesdays for a new segment.

This is not financial nor investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Monday, July 06, 2020

Letting It Ride

The stock market is on an unbelievable winning streak.  Despite my skepticism, who am I to dispute the results.   So I am moving from a bias to sell to a bias to hold.  No buying yet.  I still think there will be a time in the future to buy at lower price.

I expect there will be a pullback correction in the next few months, given the uncertainty of COVID-19 spread and the impact of a Biden Presidency.   I expect to put some additional funds into stocks at that time. 

Until then, I will patiently wait for the pullback, though I am itching to buy into this rally. 

For more on Strategies and Plans, check back Mondays for a new segment.

This is not financial nor investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Market Trend is Up

While I am still skeptical of the current market rally, I admit that I am wrong short term.   The market is definitely going up in the near term.   There is a lot of optimism for a return to pre-Covid19 days.  Til proven otherwise, I am putting my selling on hold and riding the upward wave.

In particular, I will be watching Workhorse (WKHS), which we have owned since 2014.   It dropped as low as 46 cents in 2018 and had 2020 low of $1.37.  Last week it hit an all time intraday high of  $22.90.   Amazing and unbelievable.   I have open sell orders at $30, $50, $99, and $200.  LOL  If they execute, I will know irrational exuberance has taken over the market.

Full disclosure:  We own share of WKHS in our personal account.

For more on  New Beginnings, check back Sundays for a new segment.

This is not financial nor investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Friday, July 03, 2020

An End and A Beginning

All my life, I've been working towards a financially sustainable retirement with a comfortable/conservative margin of safety.   I've been consistently frugal, living below our means, and maximizing savings through coupons, sales, deals and minimizing tax liabilities.  I've been a ruthless detailed numbers person, evaluating different options and scenarios, and sweating through the 08/09 recession and the 20 recessions while in retirement.

We're on track to achieve that margin of safety in this year on in 2021.  Barring a major financial disruption, I expect we can easily maintain our current lifestyle even with 3% inflation per year for the next 22 years.   Probably even for double that many years, but I haven't done the detailed analysis.    This includes putting 2 kids through college debt free in the next 15 years.  I can probably back off day to day managing/scrutiny of our retirement investments... unless there is a major event such as elimination of Social Security, high inflation, or a long term market crash.

Now that the financial part is mostly done, what's next?

Next is determining how we want to enjoy a financially sustainable retirement.   I want to give this some thought and discussion since we are shifting mindsets from how we got here, e.g frugal, living below our means, etc.  To me, I think we are more likely to run out of time than out of money.  So I want to answer a couple questions to start.  What do I want to spend (more) time on doing next?    How do we want to spend money to give us more time?    For me, that will be the beginning of a new chapter in our retirement journey.

For more on  Reaping the Rewards, check back  Fridays for a new segment.

This is not financial, retirement, investment nor life advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

An Example of Exuberance

This market is crazy.  Here's an example.

Workhorse (WKHS) was $2.63 on June 1, 2020.   Today it hit $20.00 before pulling back.   All on rumors of the USPS closing bids for the next generation mail truck on July 14.   Workhouse is one of three remaining bidders and the only all electric design.

Currently, Workhorse loses money on every vehicle it sells, based on sales to UPS.   There are several larger companies now competing in the same area.    However, Workhorse is riding the same wave as other EV companies, such as Nio and Nikola.

I've been selling into this rally.   My last sale was at $15.15.  Unbelievable.  I've owned shares since 2014 at much lower prices.   I expected to lose my entire investment eventually.  Not complaining and enjoying the ride.  But fully expect the price will come back to reality soon.

Full Disclosure:   We own shares of WKHS.

For more on Ideas You Can Use, check back Tuesdays  for a new segment.

This is not financial nor investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Monday, June 29, 2020

Waiting for New Lows

Although I was tempted to buy on Friday, I'm still waiting.... waiting for new lows before buying.  The current market valuations do not make sense to me.    It feels somewhat like 1999 and 2008, where the market defied the economic situation. 

So I'm going to wait to buy, despite the market making me feel very stupid for not buying.   It is painful, watching growth stocks hitting new 52 week and all time highs.  I'm going to wait until stocks test the March lows. 

Hopefully, I will get a chance to buy in a couple months, but it may take as long as waiting until November, after the elections results are decided.

For more on Strategies and Plans, check back Mondays  for a new segment.

This is not financial, nor investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Bizarro Market

"It's different this time." ~ Wall Street justification

Up is down, left is right, and bad is good.    Nothing seems to make sense to me.   My spouse tells me I need to think about the what is coming in the future.   Not what has worked in the past.   Good advice, but I think I will slowly make the transition.  In case, it isn't different this time:-)

For more on  New Beginnings, check back Sunday for a new segment.

This is not financial nor investment  advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Expect COVID-19 to Return

"I'll be back." ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator

Given the rise of COVID-19  cases in Arizona, Texas, Florida, and California, it seems a resurgence of coronavirus in the U.S. is very likely.   

Business Closings

A subsequent closing of businesses  is also likely, but not as extreme as the first one.   The focus will be on businesses that are crowded with customers.

Bars will be first to close or be severely restricted in capacity.   In my area, based on drive by observation, the bars seem as packed as they were before coronavirus.

Restaurants may be more restricted in capacity such that the business may not be sustainable.

Work from home will be a norm where possible, eventually increasing the vacancies in offices.

Cruise lines won't survive.

On the other hand, all retail establishments will be allowed to stay open, not just essential businesses.  Even with reduced occupancy limits, I expect most will be able to operate profitably.

Personal Restrictions

People will be expected to follow guidelines to prevent spread.

Masks will be required instead of being optional.

Stay at home will be optional, primarily for those at high risk.

Schools

Full time in person school will not occur.   Perhaps part time, or worse case, exclusively distance learning.

Extra curricular activities and sports will be canceled.

Vaccine

A vaccine is not likely given there is still no vaccine for HIV, SARS nor Ebola, which have been around for years, even decades.   

Conclusion

The economy is likely to further into recession, given the loss of jobs, the decline of consumer spending and failure of small businesses.   Cash will become king, despite low interest rates.


For more on Reflections and Musings, check back  Saturday for a new segment.

This is not financial, pandemic nor investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Friday, June 26, 2020

Reducing Our Investment Risk in Retirement

For me, a big risk factor in retirement is volatility of investments.  I learned this the hard way in 08/09 when our retirement investments were reduced by over 50%.  For the next few years, it wasn't clear that my retirement was sustainable.   Fortunately, the market and my company stock recovered such that most of the losses were eliminated. 

However, there is a big difference in dealing with downside volatility at 49, which is when I retired, and in my 60s.  There is less time to recover and less options for recovery.   If needed, I could have gone back to work in my 50s.    Returning to work is a much less likely option in my 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Being a financial geek, I decided to test a scenario of keeping 2/3 of our retirement funds in cash, at 0% yield,  and calculating if the combination of  future social security payments, current dividend income, current rental income, future RMD withdrawals,  and current cash was sufficient to cover our annual expenses for 20 years, assuming 3% inflation.  The answer was yes. 

Since I was conservative, e.g. no growth in cash funds and 3% inflation, I feel confident that we can keep a significant amount of cash to minimize the negative impact of volatility without jeopardizing our retirement lifestyle.  I plan to work this scenario with our financial advisor to significant reduce our downside risk during the times of significant volatility.

For more on  Reaping the Rewards, check back Fridays for a new segment.

This is not financial, retirement, nor investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Making My Buy List

The March stock market decline was so fast that I wasn't ready with buy list.  I was expecting the downturn to last a few months and give me time to choose some good buys.    I learned my lesson.  The next time a rapid decline happens, I will have a list of stocks and etfs ready for purchasing.   I will be looking at good dividend paying stocks, specific growth stocks, and index etfs.   I will minimize selections of energy and value stocks.  I will overweight FAANG and other high tech growth stocks.

Full disclosure:  We own AAPL, NFLX, and GOOG in our personal accounts.  We own FB and AMZN through our managed accounts.

For more on The Practice of Personal Finance, check back Wednesdaysfor a new segment.

This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Prepping for a Potential Lockdown or Quarantine

COVID-19 seems forgotten, but it's not gone.

Just in case there a is resurgence of COVID-19, we have decided stock up again on various good, while the supplies are good.   Dry and canned goods for the pantry, frozen vegetables for the freezer, and paper goods for the house. 

We will only be stock on foods that we usually eat and paper goods that we usually use.  That way, if there is no resurgence, we will be able to work down the inventory easily.

Hopefully, there will be no resurgence, but we don't want hope to be our only preparation.

For more on Ideas You Can Use, check back Tuesdays  for a new segment.

This is not financial, health or pandemic advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Monday, June 22, 2020

Preparing for the Recession

"It ain't over till it's over." ~ Yogi Berra

The National Bureau of Economic Research has announced a recession began in February 2020.    The stock market didn't get the memo and is reacting as if the recession is over.  With all the economic disruptions from the pandemic lockdown, I think the recession is in the beginning stages and far from over.

I feel like stock market has given me a gift.  With indices near or above early 2020 highs, I can take profits or sell at lower losses than in March, which is what I am doing.

My next step is to review capability of our investment assets to support our current lifestyle during an extended period of negative or very small returns, which I will be doing with our financial advisor this week.

One option is I can being taking Social Security, instead of waiting until 70, which would mitigate some level of stock market losses if needed.

For more on Strategies and Plans, check back Mondays  for a new segment.

This is not financial, investment, retirement nor economic advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Waiting for More Certainty

There are too many canaries in the coal mine for me to have conviction in the market direction and confidence in our investments.  Higher unemployment, corporate earnings decline, small business failing, COVID-19 resurgence, and election results are among some of the lurking canaries/issues.

For now, I continue to be biased towards selling, to reduce equity exposure and mitigate volatility in our retirement investments/savings.

For more on Strategies and Plans, check back Mondays  for a new segment.

This is not financial, investment, nor retirement advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2017 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Flummoxed

"If you don't know where you're going, you'll end up someplace else." ~ Yogi Berra

I am flummoxed and having a crisis of confidence.

This market has me totally confused.  The fast rebound, some stocks hitting new 52 week highs, penny stocks doubling, tripling and more, and confidence in a V economic recovery do not make sense to me.  I thought many stocks were over priced before COVID-19 lockdowns.

I thought the downturn was going to be  extended and allow more time for stocks to be reasonably priced.      Now after lockdowns, many of the stocks have recovered 50% or more of their losses, with some exceeding previous highs, despite the overall fundamentals (and economy) being worse than before the lockdown.   The DOW and S&P are near their highs, and the Nasdaq has hit a new 52 week high.  I don't get it.

 I tried shorting with  Norwegian Cruise Lines, but bailed out due the volatility, and closed the short with a very small gain.   If I had stayed in a few more days, I would have had a 10% gain. 

Perhaps time to get out of the market.

I think I will continue selling profitable peripheral positions in our trading account, and perhaps even some profitable core positions.   I believe lower prices will be coming, and will try to mitigate the impact by reducing our equity exposure.

For more on  Reflections and Musings, check back Saturdays for a new segment.

This is not financial nor investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Feels Like a Worse Downturn is Coming

The next market downturn will likely be more serious, longer duration and deeper than the recent downturn, which was self induced.  Soon, the market will recognize more businesses than expected will fail, more jobs will not be coming back, pensions will be cut, state and local governments will shrink.  Other negative factors include civil unrest and a COVID-19 resurgence.

This feels a lot like 2008, where the market ignored many issues, until Lehman Brothers failed.   I suspect there will be another Lehman moment later in 2020.

For more on Reflections and Musings, check back Saturdays for a new segment.

This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Friday, June 12, 2020

Invoking Rule Number One

"Rule #1: Never lose money.  Rule#2: Never forget Rule #1." ~ Warren Buffet

After a brief review with our financial advisor, I've concluded we have sufficient funds to support our retirement for another 35 years.   The analysis was done with a conservative rate for return of 3% with 2% inflation, for a real return of 1%.  .  This includes  that I will begin taking social security payments at 70.  In addition, we will pay for both our children's college education.

For us, this means protecting our retirement investments against a significant decline, as occurred in 08/09 and in March 2020.   Going forward, our investments will be primarily conservative, to preserve principal, with a large portion in cash a cash equivalents.

We will be working the specifics with our financial advisor over the next few months.

For more on Reaping the Rewards, check back  Fridays for a new segment.

This is not financial, retirement, nor investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Patiently Waiting for Lower Prices

I felt the stock market was too high before the COVID-19 pandemic.  Now the indices are near or above their all time highs, with earning lower, significant numbers unemployed and many small businesses at risk of failing.   There is too much confidence given the many unknowns.  To me, it seems the downside risks are higher than the upside potential.

I will continue to take profits, raise cash and wait.  I may even short a few stocks, such as cruise lines and airlines, which I believe have advanced far faster than recovery would support.

For more on The Practice of Personal Finance, check back  Wednesdays  for a new segment.

This is not financial nor investing advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Monday, June 08, 2020

Selling Into the Mania

It doesn't get any wilder than this.   Shortest bear market ever.  Greatest 50 day advance ever in the stock market.  Stocks advancing 100, 200 up to 600% in a couple months, weeks and even days.  The Nasdaq has hit an all time high, the S&P is positive for the year, and some stocks are reaching 52 week  and even all time highs. 

Ten weeks ago, it was the death of the bull market due to the pandemic lockdown and economic shutdown.  Now, it's the birth of a new bull market.

I'm selling into the rally.     Today I sold an oil stock, NBR,  that I've owned since April 22, 2020 for a 611% gain.   That's crazy and not sustainable.    So I am selling all our peripheral shares that have at least a 15% gain.  I may even start selling our core positions, if the advance keeps going for a couple more months.

I expect stock will be cheaper, significantly cheaper, in the future.  I will look to buy back then.

For more on Strategies and Plans, check back Mondays  for a new segment.

This is not financial  nor investmet advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Saturday, June 06, 2020

Too Good to Be Sustainable

After an amazing recovery from the March 23, 2020 bottom, the S&P is within 1.7% break even for YTD.   As the media has noted, the S&P has the best ever 50 day rally from the bottom.  Interestingly, after seven other strong 50 day rallies, the market was up 100% of the time 6 and 12 months later, averaging 10.2% and 17.3% respectively.  According to the chart in the article, 6 of the 7 coincided with the end of a bear market.

Yet the data doesn't give me confidence that the rally is sustainable.  There are too many headwinds: small business failing due to lockdown, protest and riot curfews closing down businesses, and the possibility of a significant increase in COVID-19 cases as states reopen.   The downside risk is much higher than the upside potential, in my opinion, despite the data on previous strong 50 day rallies.

Separately, I already thought that many stocks were overbought and very expensive before COVID-19.   I read somewhere that about 10-20  stocks are responsible for 1/3 of the S&P recovery.   Some stocks are even hitting new highs, even though considered expensive by fundamentals before COVID-19.

Nah, not sustainable, despite the data on 7 similar previous rallies.

I  will keep selling into the rally and look for an opportunity to buy back at lower prices.

For more on Reflections and Musings, check back Saturdays for a new segment.

This is not financial nor investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Friday, June 05, 2020

Lucky - Even YTD

With today's rally, our investments are about even YTD, even though the market is still down about 4% 1.14% Our accounts got a small boost since I was buying stocks during the last down turn, during most of the month of March 2020.   Although numerous purchases were made before the bottom,  some are above the buy price.  As a result, we have a net gain for the buys made during the recent decline.

In hindsight, I bought too soon especially for energy stocks.  Next time I will wait for a larger decline, say 20%, before initiating significant purchases.

A second reason is the value of our brokered CDs, which behave like bonds,  have increased in value, since interest rates are falling.

For more on Reaping the Rewards, check back Fridays  for a new segment.

This is not financial nor investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Monday, May 18, 2020

COVID-19 Related Stock Rotation

Today the Dow was up 911 points, about  3.85%, the biggest gain since April 6.   The reason:  A positive result in Moderna's phase I clinical of a Coronavirus vaccine among eight subjects. 

The result was stocks that have benefited from COVID-19 (e.g. work from home software, health care technology) fell and stocks that have been beaten down by COVID-19 (e.g. airlines, cruise lines, hospitality, energy, financials, and REITs) surged by as much as 19%. 

I was planning buy some airlines and cruise lines today, but many were up 10-20% right from the open.   Instead, I sold some of my beaten down stocks that surged, specifically REITS and banks.   I wasn't able to do any selling for energy, since most of my buys were on the way down to  the bottom and thus, are still below my purchase price.   

Personally, I think the advance based on limited positive vaccine news is premature and an over reaction.   Therefore, I will continue to sell my profitable beaten down stocks if the advance continues.  However, I expect a reversal once the market digests the information, resulting in the beaten down stocks falling again, and those benefiting from COVID -19 to rise again.

My plan to sell the pops and buy the drops during this rotation phase of the market.  If the rotation continues for the rest of this week, I will be buying some of the stocks that benefit from COVID-19 as they decline and building a position to sell in the subsequent rotation.

For more on Strategies and Plans, check back Mondays for a new segment.

This is not financial nor investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Saturday, May 16, 2020

To Invest or Not to Invest

Yesterday, I was itching to buy.  However, for the most part, I am waiting for the next drop.

My tendency is to invest in the beaten down stocks.   I've been doing that with oil stocks, which hasn't worked out that well so far since I started buying too early.  However, I'm thinking there may be opportunities in airlines, cruise lines, and retail.   I'm even thinking about some banks.   The commonality of all these stocks if that they  have been beaten down significantly (50+%) due to COVID-19 shutdowns, although some have bounced back.   If the market does fall, these stocks probably won't fall much beyond their previous lows.  So I may buy a small position in these stocks and wait for the decline.   Stocks I am considering include:  DAL, SAVE, KEY, HBAN, NCLH.  I already have relatively large positions in various energy (e.g. XOM, SLB, OXY) and some small positions in REITs (e.g. WPC, NNN, VTR, STAG, O, and GLPI).  I may also add to some of these when the next significant market decline occurs.

The other option is to invest in stocks that have hit new highs since the market crash in March 2020.  When these stocks fall to or below their March 2020 lows, I will start buying.   If they fall more than 50% from their new high, I will buy more.  Here are some companies I am considering:  DOCU, IRTC, VTRX, TDOC, COUP, TWLO, EVBG, BAND, VEEV and TEAM.

Right now, I am still going to wait for the next big drop in the market before purchasing large positions.  Until then, I may make a small purchase to start a position.  In addition, I will still be selling if the market continues to rally.

Full disclosure:   At the time of posting, we currently own shares of KEY, HBAN, XOM, SLB, OXY, WPC NNN, VTR, STAG, O, GLPI, BAND, VEEV and TEAM.

For more on Reflections and Musings, check back  Fridays  for a new segment.

This is not financial nor investment  advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Friday, May 15, 2020

My Post Retirement Education

As part of my retirement, my company allotted up to $5000 over 2 years to use for post retirement education.  The only restriction, that I recall, is the funds could not be used for golf lessons.

I used my funds to take courses at a local vocational school.  The knowledge I learned from these courses have been very useful in retirement.  Here are the courses I took:

  • Electrical wiring.  This was a course that enabled me to qualify as an apprentice electrician. I learned how to correctly wire outlets, switch boxes and lights.   Prior to this course, I would rewire elements as I found them. With the course, I was able to know when elements in our house were not wired correctly (but not dangerously) and rewire them correctly when making changes.
  • Plumbing.  A basic plumbing course to qualify as an apprentice.   For me, plumbing was not as complicated and more intuitive than the electrical wiring course. However, I wasn't able to solder copper pipe correctly.  I still learned enough to be more adept at simple repairs.
  • Masonry.  Again a basic course to qualify for apprenticeship.   I learned that I could never do masonry work well, e.g build a straight wall.   I did learn enough to do basic minor repairs.
  • Landscaping.    Although this course covered design, my best takeaway was how and when to prune trees.
  • Cooking.   I learned some cooking skills and got some good recipes to use at home.  I must admit the best part of this course was eating the meals we prepared in class.
I enjoyed all these courses, mainly because they expanded my personal capabilities to do basic repairs on our house and save the cost of hiring someone.


For more on Reaping the Rewards Reflections, check back Friday for a new segment.

This is not financial, home maintenance nor education advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Be Patient

"Patience is a virtue."  ~ old adage

I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop before making any significant equity purchases.   I expect the market indices to test or go to new lows, before rebounding to new highs.  So I have been selling into this rally.  (Full disclosure:  We are still down because I began purchasing peripheral shares long before the bottom.)

Today, I started nibbling at a few stock that were getting close to, but not at their March bottom.  These included:  NNN, T, and COTY.      I expect the stocks will go lower in the coming weeks, but I couldn't resist making a purchase of one share of each, since the commissions are now $0.

I will scale in and buy more of these shares, and others,  if the market continues to drop.

Full disclosure:  We own shares of NNN, T and COTY.

For more on The Practice of Personal Finance, check back Wednesdays  for a new segment.

This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Venturing Out after COVID Lockdown

Our state has started reopening:  elective medical and manufacturing last week and retail stores, outside dining, and personal services this week.  Next week will be indoor dining.    Still to come:  daycare, schools, gyms, and bars.

Our plan is to slowly return to normalcy by restricting daily exposure at this public places.  Specifically, we'll try to limit daily exposure at public places to 2 exposures per day.   That way we reduce the daily probability of being exposed to an infected person.  Also, in most cases, we won't be in contact with any person for an extended time, e.g more than a minute.

The exposure exceptions are personal service and elective medical visits, which may have up to an hour of contact.  I plan to get a haircut this week, on the first day of opening.  Fortunately, my service is fast, only about 15 minutes.    For now, I will pass on routine medical visits and tests since to reduce exposure to people in hospitals.

With declining overall infections, we will increase the number of daily exposures as time passes.  If overall infections increase, we will reduce the number of daily exposures.

For more on Ideas You Can, check back Tuesday for a new segment.

This is not financial or health  advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Is this time different?

The fast rebound off the lows has investors wondering if the bear market is over.   If that were correct, it would be the shortest bear market ever.   That would be too good to be true.   Bear markets typically have a second major decline, before exceeding previous highs.   Thus, I remain cautious and and skeptical that the bear market is over.

For more on Reflections and Musings, check back Saturdays for a new segment.

This is not financial nor investing  advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Monday, May 04, 2020

Preparing for Further Market Declines

"It's hard to make predictions, especially about the future." ~ Yogi Berra

As Warren Buffet said, " I don't think anybody knows what the market is going to do."   IMHO, if they did, they wouldn't be telling the world :-)

I admit, I have no clue as to what the market will actually do.  However, I do know that a significant decline of our investments is much more troublesome than mission out on significant gains.  Thus, from a risk perspective, I'm preparing for a further market decline.  Here's what I'm doing:
  • Selling into rallies and taking profits.  I was a buyer from January to March, mostly in energy stocks.   So I'm taking profits when I get a 15% gain or greater.  Unfortunately, I'm still underwater for the majority of my energy purchases, but am willing to wait.
  • Buying CDs.  Mostly 1 year or less.  Even though the rates are less that 0.5%, it's still better than 0.01% in the bank sweep accounts. 
  • Putting in low ball limit orders.  I want to buy after the market falls significantly.  I have submitted some low ball good-til-cancelled orders for stock that I already own and still like.
  • Keeping cash to invest.   When market falls, I will be scaling in with small purchases.   Hopefully, I will start buying near the bottom, but, if not, I will be dollar cost averaging down.
I believe the stock market has over estimated the speed of the recovery from the lockdown.  Once the reopening shows some sputtering, the uncertainty will cause the market to pause and  decline.

For more on Strategies and Plans, check back Mondays  for a new segment.

This is not financial nor investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Sunday, May 03, 2020

Deflation or Inflation?

Despite all the FED monetary actions, I am starting to think deflation due to the Coronavirus shutdown is the most likely short term scenario for the following reasons:

  • Demand will fall for discretionary services.    After states reopen, I expect a large number of people will still be reluctant to go to restaurants, theatres, bars, and other venues that have large congrations.  These businesses will need to lower prices to attract more patrons.
  • Total wages have fallen.   With shutdowns, employees wages are being reduced for those that continue working.  Others have been furloughed and will be on unemployment.  Both stituations will lead to lower spending.
  • People will save more and spend less.  The uncertainty of COVID-19 will cause people to be more cautious and have more funds in case of another shutdown.   In addition to less spending on entertainment (e.g vacations, travel, etc.), people will spend less on major purchases such as automobiles.
If there is defation, cash and bonds will be a great investment.   Real estate, commodities and stocks will likely see declines.   

I plan to start taking actions to hedge against the possiblity of a deflationary economy over the next few years.


For more on  New Beginnings, check back Sundays for a new segment.

This is not financial, economic nor investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

What are Your Wealth Building Questions?

I've been blogging about 14 year now on various financial topics of my choosing.  I'm going to try something new.  I will offer to write a post or two responding to questions readers may have about wealth building.   

Here are my guidelines questions that I will and will not write about:

  • What's worked not worked for us.
  • Opinions about the stock market and economy.
  • No  questions on specific numbers:  pre-retirement salary, net worth, etc.
  • No personally identifiable information:  employers, home location, schools attended, etc.
  • No recommendations on specific stocks

If you have a question for consideration, leave it as a comment on this post within three days.  I will review and choose a question or two as the subject of a post.   I reserve the right to not answer any and all questions.

Thanks, in advance, to those that comment.

For more on New Beginnings, check back Sundays for a new segment.

This is not financial, retirement, nor investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Stress Tested Strategies

The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns have stress tested a number of personal finance strategies that have benefited from a strong economy and an 11 year bull market.   Some of these strategies are having their fatal flaws exposed during the Coronavirus crisis.  IMHO, here are some that I believe are being stress tested the most:

  • FIRE practitioners.   FIRE stands for Financial Independence Retire Early.   I have generally been skeptical of most practitioners.   Some "early retirees" are men that become Stay at Home Dads, while their wife continues working and covering health insurance through her company.   When I was growing up, that was called a single income family, not retiring early. (If I used that definition, my mom retired at 30 when I was born.)   Other retirees are doing freelance employment, e.g. blogging, and earning significant income to cover most of their living expenses.   I think that is great, but to me is not "retired."    Another group of retirees have saved about $1 million and plan to make that last 40+ years, probably supplementing with blogging income.  Most FIRE bloggers are putting up a strong face.  It will be interesting to see how many survive this COVID-19 stress test.
  • Retirees with health insurance but without pensions nor Social Security.  These retirees have health insurance coverage from  their previous employees, but no pension, only 401K or profit sharing plans.    In addition, they are not old enough for Social Security.  I put us in this group, although I could start taking Social Security, but have chosen not to.   Many are dependent on the growth of investments in their reitrement plans.   With the decline in the stock market, it will be a stess test of their funds.  For us, COVID-19 stress test is deja vu all over again, since the 08/09 recession happened right after I retired at 49. I learned then being 80% investing in equities was not good in a decline.   After surviving that stress test, I prepared our investments to withstand a similar decline, and the investments have done well so far.   We'll see if we survive this stress test.
  • Mortgaged real estate.  With extremely low interest rates, owning rental real estate has become an attractive opportunity, especially for Airbnb hosts.   From the real estate courses I took, the strategy was to have rent cover mortage, property taxes, and routine expense.   Let the tenant pay for the property.  That works until there aren't tenants for long periods, which is happening to a number of Airbnb hosts.  Even landlords with long term tenants are experiencing some significant percentages of non-payment of rent.  I expect a significant amount of Airbnd properties to be at risk for foreclosure duing this stress test.  Personally, we own, as part of a partnership, a commercial rental property, that fortunately is paid off and is fully rented.  We only have taxes and maintenance to cover, and tenants are still paying rent, so far.
Soon the media will be reporting the survivors and failures of the COVID-19 stress test.  I think we are prepared, but there are no guarantees we will be survivors.


For more on Reflections and Musings, check back  Saturdays for a new segment.

This is not financial, retirement, nor real estate advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Friday, May 01, 2020

No RMD in 2020

An element of the CARES act, the Coronavirus relief bill, is that no RMDs (required minimum distribuions) need to be taken in 2020, either for the IRA owner, or a beneficiary.    This is to help retirees by not requiring some to cash out of equities after the significant decline.

We will benefit from this since my mother-in-law passed away this year before taking her RMD.  Therefore, my spouse won't need to take a taxable withdrawal in 2020.    In addition, due to the SECURE act of 2019, my spouse won't required to ever take a RMD.  Instead, she will be required to withdraw the entire IRA account within 10 years of her mother's passing.

Separately, our daughter had inherited an IRA from my mother, which is still subject to the stretch IRA beneficiary rules requiring an RMD be taken base my daughter's life expectancy.  My daughter also does not need to take an RMD in 2020, but I had already withdrawn the RMD in early January, so it has been completed.

I am still under the age of taking an RMD, currently 72, but I expect tax laws will change again before I reach that age.

For more on Reaping the Rewards, check back  Fridays  for a new segment.

This is not financial, retirement nor IRA advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Real Estate

Landlords grow rich in their sleep without working, risking, or economizing." ~ John Stuart Mill

When I was young, my father always encouraged me to invest in real estate.  He had two approaches:  buildings to rent; and land to hold for appreciation.  He especially liked the tax benefits.  Back then, real estate paper passive losses, due to depreciation, could be used to offset all other income, including wages, without limitation.   So the typical strategy was to cash flow neutral before taxes, and be cash flow positive after claiming depreciation deduction.   In addition, gains from the depreciated basis were taxed at long term capital gains rates, if the property was held more than one year.

Based on my recollection, my dad on average made some profit on rental properties, mainly through depreciation deductions and having renters pay the mortgage.  His best investment in rental property was through a partnership with other real estate investors.  His second best was his personal home.   He made significant profits on buying investment land and reselling years later, but these involved some luck in picking a good location for future development.

Other than co-owning one rental property with my father, I didn't invest in real estate other than owning a home.

Nowadays, owning investment real estate is no longer as lucrative.  First, the tax code has changed, eliminating the deduction of passive losses (due to depreciation) for most landlords who are above an income threshold.  Also, depreciation recapture is now taxed at ordinary income tax rates, with a cap of 25%. 

As for buying investment land, the best opportunities are often long ago purchased, with remaining plots requiring long wait times, perhaps a lifetime, for significant profit since growth has slowed.

In addition, rental real estate does involve work, or the hiring of a property management company.  There is also more risk nowadays, as the coronavirus pandemic as caused some renters to not pay rent, or in the case of Airbnb property owners, cancel reservations.

I became an accidental real estate investor when my parents passed away, inheriting some investment land and a 1/3 interesting in a commercial rental property.  Fortunately, the rental property's mortgage is paid off and is positive cash flow before taxes.   We also pay a property manager to do the work.   The investment land is in a good location, and the property taxes are low since it is vacant land.   So the cost of keeping the property is very low.

Even with these favorable conditions, my goal is to sell my interest in both properties and not pass the properties to my heirs.  Even though the properties are doing well as investments, they have a lot of complexities that require action from an owner, which I believe my heirs would have not interest in doing. 

For me, if I own real estate after selling these properties, it will be only through publicly traded REITs (real estate investment trusts).   REITs offer many of the benefits of owning real estate, but remove all the work, risks and headaches of actually owning property. 

For more on Crossing Generations, check back every  Thursday for a new segment.

This is not financial, investment nor real estate advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Not Chasing the Market

The S&P is up 31% from its March 23 closing low.  April is on track for the best month since 1974.   Some stocks are hitting new highs.

I'm not chasing this market.  I'm taking the opportunity to sell into the rally and take some profits.

To me, the rally isn't sustainable.

  • The S&P index is being driving by 5 stocks, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Apple, that account for 21% of the index movement.
  • About 80% of S&P stocks are down over 20% from their 52 week high.
  • Fundamentals still show stocks to be "expensive."
  • Economic recover from lockdown won't be fast.
  • COVID-19 may have a second spike with reopening or in the fall.
At this point, the downside risk is greater than the upside rewards, much greater.   For now, I'm being conservative and reducing my exposure to equities.

I expect another deeper decline later, and will wait before putting significant funds back into the market.


For more on The Practice of Personal Finance, check back Wednesdays for a new segment.

This is not financial nor investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Margin of Safety Recalibration

When I retired at 49 in 2007, we had about 2 years of of expenses in cash in taxable savings as a  margin of safety.   The rest could be invested.   Then came the Great Recession.   Our investments declined significantly.  It was tight to live on the 2 years of cash we had and pay all our expenses, which included a mortgage that was our largest expense.  So we sold some of our investments, at a  significant loss, to pay off the mortgage and reduce our annual expenses.   It was an eye opening experience.  In hindsight, it was a blessing to have a bear market early in our retirement.  We learned a lot about a sufficient margin of safety.

Fast forward to 2020.   We moved to keeping 4-5 years of cash in our taxable accounts, and kept our debt at zero.   When the market moved sharply down this time, we had a significant margin of safety to ride out the decline.   Much less financial anxiety that 2008.

For now, it looks like we may have over prepared, as economies are coming out of lockdown in the next month.   However, I still plan to maintain a 4-5 year margin of safety, for the next bear market or economic downturn.

For more on  The Practice of Personal Finance, check back Wednesdays for a new segment.

This is not financial, saving nor retirement advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Stimulus Check is in the Mail

Since I filed a 2018 tax return and our refund was direct deposited, I expected to be one of the first recipients of the COVID-19 stimulus check.   Imagine my surprise when I checked the Get My Payment feature on irs.gov and found out that we qualified for a stimulus payment but the IRS did not have our direct deposit information.

Rather than wait for a paper check, I decided to fill out the form for providing the IRS with our direct deposit.  Then I checked the Get My Payment feature every day afterwards.    It's been 11 days since I submitted the information and I received notice that our stimulus payment will be deposited in the next week. 

So the check, electronically speaking, is in the mail.  We'll see if arrives as stated or if I need to follow up. 

For more on New Beginnings, check back Sundays for a new segment.

This is not financial nor tax advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Breakout on May 1

Our state is targeting to come out of lockdown on May 1 by slowly allowing businesses to reopen.  While I have no objections to the imposed lockdown, I am ready to start moving back to some semblance of pre-lockdown.

Here are my short term specific plans:
  • Get a haircut.   May 1 is two weeks after my normal timing.  
  • Get a routine blood test, which I have delayed.
  • Have our air conditioning serviced, which was allowed during the lockdown.
  • Get a routine eye exam.
  • Get a tooth filling for our son.
Here is what I am going to wait to do:
  • Eat out at a restaurant.   To me this is still risky since restaurants are not used to sanitizing.
  • Use health club equipment.  I was cautious before COVID-19.
  • Group gatherings with neighbors and friends.  Will probably wait a while.  
  • Amusement parks, trampoline parks, etc.  Will wait a while.
If no spike happens after the reopen, I will likely be more adventuresome in my activities.

For more on New Beginnings, check back  Sundays for a new segment.

This is not financial nor health advice advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Rules for COVID-19

The following was found in Facebook by a cousin of a friend, so readers may have already seen it.

The Rules For COVID19:

1. Basically, you can't leave the house for any reason, but if you have to, then you can.

2. Masks are useless, but maybe you have to wear one, it can save you, it is useless, but maybe it is mandatory as well.

3. Stores are closed, except those that are open.

4. You should not go to hospitals unless you have to go there. Same applies to doctors, you should only go there in case of emergency, provided you are not too sick.

5. This virus is deadly but still not too scary, except that sometimes it actually leads to a global disaster.

6. Gloves won't help, but they can still help.

7. Everyone needs to stay HOME, but it's important to GO OUT.

8. There is no shortage of groceries in the supermarket, but there are many things missing when you go there in the evening, but not in the morning. Sometimes.

9. The virus has no effect on children except those it affects.

10. Animals are not affected, but there is still a cat that tested positive in Belgium in February when no one had been tested, plus a few tigers here and there…

11. You will have many symptoms when you are sick, but you can also get sick without symptoms, have symptoms without being sick, or be contagious without having symptoms. Oh, my God.

12. In order not to get sick, you have to eat well and exercise, but eat whatever you have on hand and it's better not to go out, well, but no…

13. It's better to get some fresh air, but you get looked at very wrong when you get some fresh air, and most importantly, you don't go to parks or walk. But don’t sit down, except that you can do that now if you are old, but not for too long or if you are pregnant (but not too old).

14. You can't go to retirement homes, but you have to take care of the elderly and bring food and medication.

15. If you are sick, you can't go out, but you can go to the pharmacy.

16. You can get restaurant food delivered to the house, which may have been prepared by people who didn't wear masks or gloves. But you have to have your groceries decontaminated outside for 3 hours. Pizza too?

17. Every disturbing article or disturbing interview starts with " I don't want to trigger panic, but…"

18. You can't see your older mother or grandmother, but you can take a taxi and meet an older taxi driver.

19. You can walk around with a friend but not with your family if they don't live under the same roof.

20. You are safe if you maintain the appropriate social distance, but you can’t go out with friends or strangers at the safe social distance.

21. The virus remains active on different surfaces for two hours, no, four, no, six, no, we didn't say hours, maybe days? But it takes a damp environment. Oh no, not necessarily.

22. The virus stays in the air - well no, or yes, maybe, especially in a closed room, in one hour a sick person can infect ten, so if it falls, all our children were already infected at school before it was closed. But remember, if you stay at the recommended social distance, however in certain circumstances you should maintain a greater distance, which, studies show, the virus can travel further, maybe.

23. We count the number of deaths but we don't know how many people are infected as we have only tested so far those who were "almost dead" to find out if that's what they will die of…

24. We have no treatment, except that there may be one that apparently is not dangerous unless you take too much (which is the case with all medications).


25. We should stay locked up until the virus disappears, but it will only disappear if we achieve collective immunity, so when it circulates… but we must no longer be locked up for that?

LOL


For more on Reflections and Musings, check back Saturdays for a new segment.

This is not financial, medical nor COVID-19 advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Friday, April 17, 2020

The Silver Linings from Lockdown

The Coronavirus lockdown  has been a challenging event.  After all, we're all used our freedom to go where we choose and whenever we want.  However, there have been multiple benefits from stay-at-home orders.
  • Healthier eating.   We are eating all of our meals at home.  Typically, our kids would have school lunches five days a week, and sneak in snack food during school days.  We would also eat out occasionally.  Now, they are eating fresh prepared foods for most of their meals.  Mainly, because fresh produce is usually not out of stock at groceries during the lockdown.  Yes, we do eat some processed foods also, but probably still  probably overall healthier than prior to the lockdown.
  • Schooling exposure.  Our schools have been closed since mid March, which all classes converted to distance learning.  For our 9th grader, she has be able to do it on her own.  However, for our 1st grader, my spouse has been very involved.  So we have been able to better see what our son is learning and is having trouble learning.   
  • DIY project progress.  Since people are at home more, I feel more pressure to take care of a few DIY home project repairs.   Being ever the procrastinator, I already have most of the parts and just need to do them.
  • Decluttering.  We are pack rats, keeping old toys, old books, old clothes and stuff.   In addition, we have inherited some more stuff with the passing of our parents.  Since we're home most of the time, we are motivated to clear out some of the clutter.
  • More and better family time.  We're with each other 24/7.   We eat all our meals together, do projects around the house together, hike in nearby parks together, and watch TV together.  It's like being on vacation, but at home, instead of a hotel room. 
  • Less chauffeuring.  Previously, we were constantly driving the kids to sports, music lessons, and extracurricular activities.   All are either canceled or done via the Internet.
  • Better air quality.  Although not an issue in our area, air pollution has significantly declined due to less plane and car travel.
Our slow emergence from lockdown is expected to begin May 1, 2020.   While I am looking forward to regaining previous freedoms, I will miss many of the benefits experienced during lockdwon.


For more on Reaping the Rewards check back  Fridays  for a new segment.

This is not financial or lockdown advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Investing - What I Would Tell My 20 Year Old Self

If I only knew then, what I know now. ~ old adage

Here are some investing tips I wish I had known when I was younger:
  • Time in the market is more important than market timing.   Invest early, invest consistently, and invest regularly throughout one's life.  If there is interest in "market timing," increase the amount of regular contributions when the market is going down.
  • For most people, investing in the total market index will give better results than investing in individual stocks.   The total market eventually goes up over time and never goes to zero.   Individual stocks don't always go up and can go to zero.  However, investing in indvidual stocks is more exciting, and concentration on the "right" individual stocks can result in signficant wealth.  An allocation of 10-20% to individual stocks will usually provide sufficient excitement and bragging rights.
  • Investing in individual stocks is hard work.  Gambling in individual stocks takes little work.  Hard work does not guarantee making money nor not losing money.  Gambling sometimes leads to big gains, but more often leads to losses.   Most buyers of  individual stocks end up somewhere in between investing and gambling.   
  • The most important decisions to make when buying an individual stock:  Which stock.  What price to buy.  What price to sell.  Develop your own system and adjust as needed.  People that claim to know the answer don't really know.  Otherwise, they would be extremely wealthy instead of managing your money or selling you a newsletter.
Good luck to all during the COVID-19 market correction/bear market.

For more on Crossing Generations, check back  Thursdays  for a new segment.

This is not financial nor investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020   Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Avoid FOMO

FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out

With the stock market recent big and fast rebound from March 23 lows, people may be thinking they've missed their opportnunity to buy at low prices.   They may be even worried that they may miss significant gains since the market will continue to rise to new highs.  The result may be panic buying, which will drive the market higher.

Bear market sharp rallies are common and often fail, resulting in going to new lows. 

For now, I am still not buying. 

For more on The Practice of Personal Finance, check back  Wednesdays  for a new segment.

This is not financial nor investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Best Times for Lockdown Shopping

With stay-at-home orders, we only go out to do shopping for groceries and other essential.    The main stores for us are Kroger, Whole Foods, and Costco.

After several shopping trips to each, here is my conclusion for best times (least crowds) and worst times (most crowds, often with lines).

Best Time:

  • Within 1 hour of closing.    Stores are generally not crowded.   No lines to enter.  However, shopping has to be quickly and efficiently since stores close promptly or a little ahead of schedule (Costco).
Worst Time
  • Midday between 10am-2pm.  Most crowded time.  Lots of families.  Often a line to enter store (Costco). 
  • Over 60 time -   I only tried this once at Kroger.   It was very crowded.   Much less crowded after the special shopping hour.  Haven't tried Whole Foods special time yet.
So most of my shopping trips are done about an hour before closing.   


For more on Ideas You Can Use, check back Tuesdays  for a new segment.

This is not financial or shopping advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Sunday, April 12, 2020

How Life is Different

COVID-19 has changed a lot of people's beliefs and perspectives.  Here's how COVID-19 has changed mine:

  • Will I ever take a cruise again?  Nah, don't think I'd do one even if it was free.
  • Will I let my kids take out a student loan to go to college?   Nope.   
  • Will I take a loan to buy a new car?  Don't think so.
  • Will I still invest in stocks?   Yes, but only with an amount I can afford to lose.
  • Will I hug my spouse and kids more?   Yes, probably at least everyday.
  • Will uncertainty be a major factor in my life?  Yes, and probably for the rest of my life.

For more on New Beginnings, check back  Sundays for a new segment.

This is not financial nor lifestyle advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Expect a Big Rally Next Week

COVID-19 health impact appears to be less than worst case and less than anticipated a week ago.  If the trend continues, I expect a sharp rally next week.    Perhaps not sustainable, but maybe enough to enable me to recover most of our losses. 

If the rally happens, I plan to continue selling and taking profits in our peripheral holdings.

For more on Reflections and Musings, check back  Saturdays for a new segment.

This is not financial or investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

No Coronavirus Relief Payment - Yet

I checked our bank account a few minutes ago.  We haven't received our Coronavirus relief payment yet.   I will check over the next week and report when we receive it.

For more on Reflections and Musings, check back Saturdays for a new segment.

This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Build an Emergency Fund

As many have learned with COVID-19 shutdowns, having an emergency fund is an important financial strategy.    The emergency fund can cover unexpected expenses such as a car repair or major appliance purchase and even loss of income due to a layoff. 

The typical recommended emergency fund for someone working is three to six months of expenses.   This amount is usually enough to cover an unexpected large expense or loss of a job.  People may find after the COVID-19 experience, longer may even be preferable.

In retirement, we're keeping three to five years of expenses in an emergency fund of cash or invested in CDs, so that we do not need to sell stock investments at low prices due to a downturn as we are experiencing now.   Stock usually recover within three to five years, allowing investments to be sold at favorable prices.

Hopefully, three to five years will be sufficient time for the stock market to recover from COVID-19.

For more on The Practice of Personal Finance, check back Wednesdays for a new segment.

This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

My Take on Coronavirus Survival

Full Disclosure:  I am not a medical professional nor do I have medical training.

I have been following a number of studies, reports, and presentations on COVID-19 status.   My conclusion is that COVID-19 may be fatal for infected individuals that have inflammation pre-existing conditions.

Inflammation conditions already reported include:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Asthma 
I would add the following:
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
Perhaps that's why hydroxychloroquine has worked for some patients.   It's a treatment for an autoimmune disease.

All speculation on my part, but based on the qualitative data that is being reported.


For more on Ideas You Can Use, check back Tuesdays  for a new segment.

This is not financial or medical advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Monday, April 06, 2020

Near Term Rally Strategy

Note:  Corrections have been made due to errors in calculations.   The fact checker's bonus will be eliminated this quarter :-)

I expect the market to rally for a short time since COVID-19 deaths appear to be peaking in the U.S.   My plan is to sell our peripheral holdings into the rally, while maintaining our core holdings.

 I have increased shares in existing positions or added shares in new holding during the downturn. I consider most of these newly acquired shares "peripheral" holdings.   I start trading out of these holdings when the return is about 15% nominally.   I experienced 15% gains in as little as a few hours due to the extreme volatility, but more common is a time period of a few days, if I'm lucking.

Overall, we are still down, but as of the end of March, the loss was only -2.3%  -4.2%, since we have a significant amount of cash, and my company stock, which is our largest single holding,  has only declined about 4% 11% since the beginning of the year. 

There will probably be another decline to lower lows.  I will wait for that to happen before adding significant funds to purchase more stocks.

For more on Strategies and Plans Ideas, check back Mondays  for a new segment.

This is not financial or investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Sunday, April 05, 2020

The New Normalcy

One month ago, life was still normal.  There were no restrictions. I was still going skiing.  My kids were in school.  My 7 year old son was attending birthday parties.  We were shopping as usual.   We were connecting with friends.  We were planning summer vacation.

Fast forward to now.   We are under stay at home orders.  Schools are closed and doing online learning.   We're about to start wearing masks in public areas.   Not even thinking about summer vacation.

I expect his to last until May 1, but hope our previous life will return sooner.

For more on New Beginnings, check back Sundays for a new segment.

This is not financial or health  advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Uncertainty is the New Norm

"Tomorrow isn't promised." ~ old adage

I'm spending stay-at-home orders enjoying time with my spouse and kids.   We play games, pracitce sports, do DIY home projects.  Hopefully, the kids will have pleasant memories of these times, versus the anxiety that most adults are having.

We continue to plan for the worst and hope for the best....

For more on  Reflections and Musings, check back  Saturdays for a new segment.

This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Coronavirus Groundhog Day

We've been under stay at home orders for a couple weeks. 

Everyday is basically the same.

Get up.  Make breakfast.   Check the weather.   Read Coronavirus news.
Decide whether to shop for food and make list.
Get kids to online school.  Clean up.
Read Coronavirus news. 
Make lunch
Get kids outside on nice days.  Ride bikes, play catch, hit basedballs, and kick soccer balls.
Read Coronavirus news.
Watch part of governor's daily corona virus update.
Do shopping or other spring chores around the house.
Read Coronavirus news.
Make dinner and clean up.
Practice music, read, watch TV, do homework.
Get kids to bed.
Read Coronavirus news.
Clean up, relax, go to bed.

Repeat the next day.

For more on   Reflections and Musings, check back Saturdays for a new segment.

This is not financial nor coronavirus stay-at-home advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Friday, April 03, 2020

The Power of NO!

For us, a successful retirement has benefited from being able to say NO.
  1.  No Debt.   We have no mortgage, no car loan, no outstanding revolving debt.   That has reduced our "required" payments each month.   My only regret is that I didn't pay off our mortgage right after retiring in 2007.  Instead I stayed invested and lost a significant amount of money in 08/09 that could have been used to pay off the mortgage, which we did in 2009.
  2. No Living Large.  I drive a 17 year old truck and a 17 year old car, which we are saving for my daughter to learn driving.  My spouse drives an 8 year old car we bought from her mom, when she moved into independent living.  We take one or two vacations a year with the kids.   We have most of our meals at home, eating out a couple times a month.
  3. No Supporting Adult Kids.   Both our kids are still under 15, but many of my retired friends are still providing some finanacial support to their kids, even post college graduation.
  4. No Exotic Investments.   I have turned down various investments with "higher yields" and stayed with some stocks and mostly CDs and cash equivalents.   Yeah, we didn't beat the market, except for 2020 YTD, but we generally earned enough to cover annual expenses.
Of course, YMMV, but this approach has worked well for us.

For more on Reaping the Rewards, check back Fridays for a new segment.

This is not financial nor retirement advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Looking for Cash Opportunities


Cash is king for now.

There will be lots of attractive opportunities for those with cash:  stocks, real estate, purchases.  I'll be actively looking for good deals.

For more on Ideas You Can Use, check back  Tuesdays for a new segment.

This is not financial or investment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

Monday, March 30, 2020

Be Prepared for the Worst

That was my hard lesson learned from the 08/09 Great Recession.  The stock market was doing great, hitting new highs in October 2007, the month of my early retirement. My company stock had also hit a new high. 

Rather than paying off our mortgage, I stayed mainly invested in equities, assuming the stock market would continue to deliver gains greater than the interest on our mortgage.   It was the "smart" financial decision.

Needless to say, I wasn't prepared for the stock market crash of 08/09.    Our retirement funds were reduced by about 60%.   Fortunately, we had enough cash and CDs to tide us through for a couple years.  That plus some part time work for a few years, and some deferred compensation payments enable us to recover completely by 2017.

However, I never forgot the anxiety and financial challenges of the 08/09 Great Recession.   I was much more prepared for the recent bear market decline, by keeping more funds in cash and cash equivalents, foregoing some of  the gains in the stock market.  If the market should decline further, it will still be painful, but I anticipate the financial challenges to be much less daunting than the ones we had in 08/09.

For more on Strategies and Plans, check back Mondays for a new segment.

This is not financial nor invesment advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2020 Achievement Catalyst, LLC