About once every six months we review my portfolio at this site. This review happens to coincide with several major shifts in my investing now.
In a three part series we look at the specific portfolio, the changes just made, but most important, the deeper fundamentals of current financial planning. My goal in sharing this is not to suggest that you invest as I do, but to examine a template of thought that can be used in creating your own financial plan.
This first message of three looks at the deepest fundamental that is aimed at avoiding the greatest economic risks I feel face in the financial marketplace. You will have to decide whether you have these risks or not. My worst economic enemies are not the economic conditions of the world. They are not the lies and deceits created by governments and institutions. They are not unemployment, inflation, collapsing stock markets and such.
My biggest risks are the greed and fears I have within. My lack of knowledge, prejudices and lack of understandings are the largest pitfalls I face to avoid getting caught in the small stuff.
There are so many people that are so miserable, they will do almost anything to abandon their existing way of life, hoping to become rich quick. This is usually the ultimate error because such attempts are filled with risk.
Every person should have a master plan….one that suits them.
Warren Buffet, one of the world's great investors, teaches that there are core principles we can consider when creating our own plans.
- Do what we like
- Money isn't everything
- Work only with people we like
- Buy businesses, not stocks
- Invest only in what we understand
- Don't over diversify
- Keep looking for new opportunities
- Buy businesses we plan to keep for life
- Look for businesses that are available at a good price
This invaluable information helped me create the plan that works for me called PIEC investing. PIEC is an acronym for “Personal Income Earning Corridor”. This concept of financial prudence is uniquely mine and differs greatly from traditional approaches of accumulating wealth.
Traditionally people get jobs to create income. They work to live and support their lifestyle while attempting to spend less than they earn. Maybe the savings will bring some time in the future, a lifestyle of doing something enjoyable without work.
PIEC investors reverse the priorities. Instead of working for money to save and invest, they focus their prime effort on doing something they enjoy right now. Then they learn how to enjoy the effort in some profitable way. They learn to create “Avenues of Abundance” that combine lifestyle with the necessary task of accumulating wealth.
For example, if a PIEC investor loves golf; instead of working six days a week, 50 weeks a year just to golf on Sundays and during short vacations, instead he could create a business in some aspect of the golfing trade.
In another example, a client of mine, who loved animals became a vet. But he learned that the vet's lifestyle was not one he enjoyed. He wanted to travel and move around, which is difficult for a professional who needs to stay at his office and build a practice. So he built a business that prepares special animal foods for race horses. Now he travels globally visiting horse breeders and makes much more money as well.
PIEC investors combine money with time, energy and desires. They generate income doing something desired. Desire and fulfillment become at least as, if not more, important as the money.
Do What You Love!
The reason PIEC investing works well is that when we love to do something, we do it better, for longer and with greater enthusiasm.
These are wealth-building attributes that cannot fail. Yet PIEC investing does not mean we should suddenly abandon our jobs and try becoming golf pros, when we have never been able to break 100. Smart PIECS often require a gradual approach.
For example, as a writer and lecturer, I was never fully satisfied sitting behind a desk or standing on a podium all day long, even though I was making over a million bucks a year. I'm the physical, outdoors type and yearned for exercise and the wilds of the deep woods. “What good's the money if this isn't fun?” I often asked myself.
Rather than quit writing and teaching, I looked for ways to combine these professions with the outdoor life. Through research I learned that many city folk like myself yearn to be in the primitive outdoors. So Merri and I bought an isolated farm high in the Blue Ridge Mountains and an Andean plantation high in the Andes where we are developing seminar centers with charming but simple dwellings, set in rustic surroundings, with clean water and pure air. Now I can teach in a primitive setting and after I finish the writing or talking, I run up into the woods with an axe and clear another cabin site or something physical like that. I've combined my writing with physical work and have blended the life I want, with my readers' needs in a way that makes great financial sense. The cabins are projected to bring more profits than most stocks or bonds could ever return.
The process took six years to shift and we are far from finished. But while I'm doing what I love, who cares? This is one of the great benefits of PIEC investing. We can slow down and enjoy the work instead of always rushing ahead, looking for something more.
Those who work nine to five can start a PIEC business part-time if they are too uneasy to quit their jobs. Others, who like myself, already have a business can slowly shift their product or service in a sensible way and let it evolve toward their PIEC.
But where do we start?
There is a seven step process we can all use whether we have our own careers, a business or even if we are retired (PIEC investing is especially good for retired folks who have found the supposed good life flat or financially short).
The first step is to get a clear idea or vision of our dream. This is sometimes harder to achieve than it seems. We are so deluged with false ideals from Washington, Wall Street, Madison Avenue, etc. that we have to stop and really take stock.
There is a very practical economic reason to look inwards for wealth. Warren Buffet recommends that we only invest in what we understand. What can we understand better than ourselves?
This inner search will lead us to an ideal that begins the second step, which is gaining enthusiasm. How can we be anything but enthusiastic about finally fulfilling our deepest dreams? The enthusiasm leads to the third step; gaining an education.
We need to find out everything we can about our idea. To succeed we must become real experts in the product or service we offer.
Fourth, this educational process allows us to develop an intelligent, focused business plan we can act upon. The action is the fifth step, which brings us the experience. Experience gives us the sixth step, a financial loss or profit. Remember we always profit in increased knowledge, which creates the seventh step, more ideas. Then the entire cycle starts all over again: Idea, Enthusiasm, Education, Action, Experience, Financial Profit and New Ideas.
This is a way to follow Warren Buffet's advice to keep looking for new opportunities. Business is rarely static. It is an ever-evolving process instead.
This seven step cycle may take days, weeks, months or years, but the moment you begin you'll start moving into an avenue of affluence where you love your work so much money isn't your main goal. Then have you ever noticed that when this occurs, wealth comes more easily?
The Building of Wealth
The building of wealth becomes a fulfilling, enjoyable process of service. Great financial rewards are an extra benefit rather than ultimate goals. Worries about money become less dominant and we gain an inherent power because we want to work harder and longer. We don't need to search (and spend) so much for fulfilment and are more likely to excel financially.
Knowing ourselves also helps begin a business with a most powerful business tool I call the Golden Rule of Simplicity. This rule says there are millions of people just like us. When we truly see ourselves we look into a mirror that reflects an entire market who feel and desire just as we do. This is a simple rule yet gives us a finely tuned market research system which shows us how to get create our product, get in touch with our market, deliver the product or service, etc. This is the essence of business coaching and should be the cornerstone of all business consulting.
Self-knowledge is also essential for comfort, and comfort is a vital part of everlasting wealth. When investors are not comfortable, no profit is enough. Uncomfortable investors have a never-ending thirst for more that cannot be quenched. This indefatigable desire gums up the money making process. Amounts don't matter. Even investors with incredible assets suffer this never-ending lust. A well-documented example is Bunker Hunt's huge losses when he speculated in silver. He had hundreds of millions yet speculated it all to make even more. When are hundreds of millions not enough?
Three Layer Financial Plan
PIEC business does not mean you should put all your money in just your own business (though at times you may). Diversification is always good. PIEC diversification again departs from the financial planning norm.
PIEC portfolios come in three layers, first the business, then a layer of very safe investments over a third, much smaller layer of speculative deals.
The majority of PIEC diversification should be in stodgy, liquid investments such as utilities, CDs and bonds. These investments might pay little in the short term, but are safe and are highly liquid at a known price. The low return on these investments is acceptable because they support your PIEC business, which makes profits like few other investments can. These very safe investments act as reserves if your business hits a sticky patch and can provide ready finance if sudden business opportunities arise. They also don't take up much time in research, accounting, watching the market, etc. so you can devote your energy doing what you love (your business) instead.
However, if you genuinely love researching and tracking the market and have the mentality, capital and experience for it, just being an investor can be a wonderful PIEC business in itself.
The third layer of diversification can be speculative because modern portfolio theory suggests that safe investments are enhanced and made safer by adding a small amount of higher risk deals. This also allows us to fulfil any casino mentality we might have left if having our own business is not enough.
PIEC investing makes it easier to create and keep wealth. It enhances our lifestyles now, because it lets us make money being who we really are. It makes life more fulfilling and fun.
Whether you are employed or have your own business, this thinking can help you develop your own financial plan so you can get the most, our of life, money and fun.
Wednesday's message looks at my actual portfolio and my spring update changes and how I have used the PIEC approach to develop it. Friday reviews the decision making process behind these investments.
Until then good investing!