For better times

Life is not only about money. And while this blog has its focus on it, today I’d like to share a poem that moved quite some people on the inauguration day of the 46th President of the United States.

“The Hill We Climb”
Amanda Gorman

When day comes we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade? The loss we carry, a sea we must wade. We’ve braved the belly of the beast, we’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace and the norms and notions of what just is, isn’t always justice. And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it, somehow we do it, somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken but simply unfinished.

We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one. And, yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect, we are striving to forge a union with purpose, to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.

So we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another, we seek harm to none and harmony for all.

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true: that even as we grieved, we grew, even as we hurt, we hoped, that even as we tired, we tried, that we’ll forever be tied together victorious, not because we will never again know defeat but because we will never again sow division.

Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one should make them afraid. If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in in all of the bridges we’ve made.

That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare it because being American is more than a pride we inherit, it’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it. That would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy, and this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can periodically be delayed, but it can never be permanently defeated.

In this truth, in this faith, we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us, this is the era of just redemption we feared in its inception we did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour but within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves, so while once we asked how can we possibly prevail over catastrophe, now we assert how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us.

We will not march back to what was but move to what shall be, a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free, we will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation, our blunders become their burden. But one thing is certain: if we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.

So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left, with every breath from my bronze, pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one, we will rise from the golden hills of the West, we will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution, we will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states, we will rise from the sunbaked South, we will rebuild, reconcile, and recover in every known nook of our nation in every corner called our country our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful, when the day comes we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid, the new dawn blooms as we free it, for there is always light if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.

Let it sink

I won’t comment too much on it. It’s beautiful.

Bye Mr. Trump. Bye, to the rest of the Trump family.
The world is moving on.

The last one for 2020

First things first: Merry Christmas everyone! Nevermind where you live, Christmas is probably not as it’s supposed to be. And neither will be the New Years Eve event. COVID infections worldwide came roaring back across the globe and have crippled public life once again. Even in countries that previously did well in handling it. Yes, even here where I live, in Thailand.

So, while everyone is awaiting the vaccines to roll-out on scale, we have to remain cautious and vigilant, and hold the line until we get through the worst part of this pandemic. My personal expectation is set around the target date of sometime around May 2021.

2021 will get better

I am pretty optimistic for the next year and expect things to get significantly better. While the economic crisis has shattered businesses and destroyed livelihoods, there is a positive effect to it.

As bad as it may sound, the crisis has cleared the market of many weak companies. Stronger companies discovered weak spots and dependencies that had to be addressed. People have realised that some business models are not as bullet-proof as they thought, and some traditional business partners are less reliable and trustworthy than one would have expected. Those who get through this crisis will come out stronger on the other side, new alliances and partnerships will be formed, and unproductive and inefficient constellations have been abandoned.

For investors, these are good news. Especially for those who invest long-term. Getting through a crisis on this scale builds trust and confidence. This in turn will support pricing of shares and dividend payments. The recovery will come.

That is unless…

But of course, the very first thing that COVID taught us is that such dramatic events often come unexpectedly. And while we might indeed be done with COVID sometime next year, the world is far from secure from other crises that might happen right after that. Whether it’s another virus, a military conflict on a global scale, trade-wars, who knows. Everything can happen.

However, the smart thing to do is to remain optimistic. Historically and statistically, optimistic investors fare better and end up better off than pessimists. Always. Because unless the world literally collapses, markets do recover. Businesses adapt and come back. Innovation never stops, it’s part of our DNA.

So with these positive lines I like to say thank you to all my readers for following this blog in 2020, and I am looking forward to keep writing for you also in the coming year. What can you expect from me in 2021?

  • I will continue writing about financial independence. As you know, my target is to become financially independent, and I intend to reach this target by investing in stocks. This will continue and I will keep writing about it.
  • I will start writing about investing in stocks in Thailand and about Thai companies. In 2020 I have opened an investment account for my wife and for my daughter here in Thailand, and started investing on their behalf with surprisingly good results. The experience I gained through this will be something that I like to share with other potential investors, especially those who are living in Thailand.
  • I will start writing about how to set up a business in Thailand. Currently my wife is about to open a small business, a health-food cafe with smoothies and smoothie bowls. We are working on it together and learning a lot about how to open a small business here. We are in the final stages now, but once setup and done, I will share the experiences made along the way in a few articles.

So this is it! Goodbye 2020, hello 2021!

I am wishing you all a healthy and successful new year ahead!

About conspiracy theories

One of the most interesting aspects of any crisis is to observe how people react to it. How does the media report on it? How do politicians act? What does your company do? What are the actions of your business partners, competitors, and colleagues?

For me personally, it is most interesting to observe how friends and connections on social media react. When it’s not about business, but about personal opinions, character, and values.

architectural photography of yellow and brown house

Photo by Tsvetoslav Hristov on Pexels.com

Conspiracy theories on the rise

It’s hard not to notice the surging amount of conspiracy theories. Whether it’s a try to demonizing Bill Gates, or a push against China, the internet and social media are full of it. And while I wouldn’t expect anything else from Facebook (I stopped using Facebook almost 1,5 years ago), I am very surprised to see the same narratives even on a professional network such as LinkedIn.

Well, in the end, we are all just people. But let me tell you that as professionals who trust each other in business matters, it can really profoundly disturb a relationship knowing that the person I am dealing with is eager to spread misinformation, fake news, racism, and/or propaganda. In fact, this is a reason for me to seize doing business with such a person.

Controlling your emotions

As professionals and as investors, a major rule of thumb is to control our emotions. No matter what we personally think about something, throughout our careers we train to learn to follow data, to collect information from other people who are actual professionals in those fields, and then to draw conclusions based on the information we have at hand.

We can, of course, express our opinions, worries, or reasons which lead us to believe something to be otherwise. But this needs to be presented as such. And it’s needless to say that propaganda or racism is a non-negotiable and resounding no-go in any case.

About China

So today, let me address a few points that I read about in recent days. This is to offer some additional perspective on the blame China receives:

  • Wet markets. People are now eager to blame everything on the wet markets in China. Fair enough, according to the current data the virus came from there. But how certain are we that a similar outbreak could not occur in a wet market in Vietnam, Thailand or Cambodia? And how about slaughterhouses in the USA, or mass animal farming and chicken breeding? How about the hygienic conditions across India? There are so many potential breeding grounds for a virus, it’s mindboggling.
    My point here is that instead of generally blaming wet markets in China, we should rather try to identify general root issues and how to address those across the globe. But we can only do it in coordination and exchange with other nations. Our “artificial” borders matter nothing for a virus or any other natural disaster for that matter.
  • China is lying to the world. It might be. Whether it’s deliberate lies or creative interpretations of facts and data, we know that we have to be very careful with any information that we receive. But instead of pointing fingers, the USA and Europe should use the tools at hand to push for more data, to evaluate it, and to coordinate a response. Amazingly enough, we do have a real tool and task force just for that: The World Health Organization, or WHO.
  • The WHO is being controlled by the Chinese. There might be some influence. More, or less. We don’t know at this point. So we shouldn’t declare it as a fact and we shouldn’t reduce the funding to this organization just now. However, every participating and paying country has every right to analyze and evaluate an organization they pay money to.
    But what would be the best way to evaluate the WHO? I would argue that it’s probably not by setting up investigative committees and withholding funding. Instead, it might be smarter to send our own trusted professionals to support the work. By actively engaging in discussions and exchange of information, by ensuring that resources and measures are being directed to where they are being needed, this approach would quickly debunk any conspiracy theories, it would eradicate the finger-pointing and blaming, and it would result in a globally coordinated effort. Unity. Something that is urgently needed to fight a pandemic.
  • China will use the crisis to buy foreign companies. This idea is highly unlikely. First of all, China needs to do its own stimulus efforts to support the economy. Secondly, China needs to prepare itself for the upcoming economic disaster. What do I mean by that?
    Chinas growth this year is estimated to be less than 2%. The last time it was that low was after the cultural revolution in 1977. And this is just the current estimation. The real impact of the crisis and what will follow after that is difficult to predict. But we are seeing first sentiments and actions from entities worldwide already taking shape. Companies from major economies around the globe start moving production facilities out of China or are planning to do so in the foreseeable future. China is being sued by several states in the US for damages. Diplomatic ties are strained. Hostile takeovers of companies in the US or in Europe during a pandemic would only risk an irreversible lost of trust and global backlash which I doubt the country can afford.

I am probably the last person to put China into a positive spotlight. After living and working there for a year I had really enough and I don’t see myself ever going back there. Vacations – maybe. But spreading conspiracy theories and racism based on some shady propaganda and without thinking the arguments through… we are better than that.

2019 wasn’t too bad

The year is coming to an end, and despite all the chaos around the globe, it wasn’t a bad year after all. No financial crisis, no armed conflicts on a global scale. Considering all the projections from 2018 it could have been much worse.

I feel like this year passed way too quickly and personally, it was a tough one. When I changed my place of work, I had to separate from my family for more than 7 months now. This situation will remain the same for about 3 more months. All this time I am living in a hotel and doing nothing else but focusing on work. Not always easy and mentally pretty draining, but the tough time is almost over and in January I will be moving out to something that I will be able to call “home” for a while.

The Financials

Financially, 2019 was good. I won’t hit several of my self-imposed targets, but they were maybe a little bit too ambitious. Still, my savings/investments and my dividend income grew significantly by almost 30% and everything is already set to grow at the same or even higher rate in 2020. With a few additional investments I might reach a growth of even 50% in my passive income next year, coming ever closer to my FIRE target.

I have also put a little more cash into two stock accounts here in Thailand. One is for more wife, the second one is for my daughter.

The account for my four-year-old daughter is only investing in 3 ETFs. One focused on dividends, one invests in SMEs, and one that follows the Thai SET index. The current volume is only about 1.500 Euros. I will grow it in 2020 to reach a volume of something around 5.000 Euros. In time, the dividends should serve the purpose of covering her pocket money. The SME-focused ETF which doesn’t pay dividends should continue growing to become her very own FIRE fund in due time. Should she want and/or need one.

For my wife, it’s a different story. I want her to have her very own passive income. I am therefore investing in individual stocks here in Thailand which pay dividends in different months. This will not only help us both to be financially independent, but it will also give us the advantage of having income in both currencies, Euros and in Thai Baht. Depending on the economy, we will then be able to take advantage of the best opportunities in both markets.

Brick & Mortar Business

This year was also an opportunity for me to diversify a little further and to get into some real estate business. I supported my parents financially to invest in a small bed & breakfast business. We are renovating a small house on our land in Poland and plan to set up 4-5 rooms for short-term stays. The income from this beautiful small rental business should secure their retirement, and increase the value of my property in Poland by a solid margin at the same time.

Last but not least, I also identified another potential opportunity in Japan. I will fly in March with a friend to the city of Fukuoka to identify a potential investment in a small bed & breakfast hotel in a hot spring town nearby the city. Given the economic situation in Japan and the diminishing population, many business owners and local governments turn to foreign investors to take over abandoned or decaying properties at bargain prices and I think this could a risky but very interesting opportunity.

The great thing about Japan: Foreigners can set up companies and buy land under their own name. So in comparison to China or Thailand, it’s actually a much more investor-friendly environment. Not to mention that Japan is such a beautiful place to be. I will report more details on this after the trip. Stay tuned.

2020 Forecast

In a few months, I will turn 40 years old. It pretty much feels like a performance peak, with my career, salary, and energy levels all aligned, and I will make sure to make the best of it. Some sacrifices along the way are painful sometimes. Especially seeing my daughter only once every 4-5 weeks for the last 7 months took a high toll, but this should be resolved within the first quarter of 2020 and I see a very promising year ahead as a whole.

“Nobody ever wrote down a plan to be broke, fat, lazy, or stupid. Those things are what happen when you don’t have a plan.” – Larry Winget

Many of my friends and family are always telling me that I tend to plan way too much. They are probably right. But for one, the quote above is pretty motivating to me. Secondly, I like to think that I plan for things that matter, and for things that make a difference for me and for my family’s future. I can’t imagine not having a plan in life.

And yes, step by step, year by year, I can see the change, the improvement. With every improvement, new opportunities are coming up. Let’s see what 2020 will bring!

In this spirit, I am wishing all my readers and followers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! And if you don’t have your plan for 2020 set yet, now is the best time to getting to it.

Can I earn money with ads on my blog?

Among the many jobs that emerged popular in recent years are those of the so-called influencers. Individuals who can motivate others through engaging online content. They encourage others to visit destinations, and to purchase products or services. As an influencer you can either get paid directly by the party which engages you in promoting their service or product, or passively, via ads and commercials. This is how Instagram and YouTube capitalize the content.

Blogs have something almost ancient in the technological world about them. They have been around for a while. In the beginning it was all only about sharing ideas, knowledge, or just about keeping public diaries. However, they can also be used to generate earnings.

Earning with ads

My blog is mainly about motivating people to develop better financial understanding. It’s a niche topic that some may consider a little “dry”. Certainly not sexy. I am hardly posting any pictures, except for the occasional infographic. I don’t promote any specific products or services. Not yet anyway. But even for this kind of blogs there is an option to collect some cash, and to get rewarded for all the effort that is being put into writing all the articles. Online advertising by placing banners in the articles.

I was curious how this could work out and have activated on my WordPress blog the option of the so-called WordAds. It’s basically an automated integration of commercials into the blog based on it’s content and visitors. It is the easiest way with WordPress to setup this kind of service as it can be activated with two clicks on the wordpress website.

Without further adue, I like to share with you the results of my ad-integration:

Screenshot 2019-11-18 at 14.14.51

Low effort equals low results

I admit, I put the lowest possible effort into it. I didn’t put up banners and ads on my main website. I just don’t want to do that. I hate clutter, so you see the banners only if you actually really read a full article. I also didn’t look for any specific partners or looked at affiliate marketing options which are more targeted and specific and which pay significantly better. I seriously just did the bare minimum. And yes, the result speaks for itself.

So if you intend to earn money with you blog or website, I am afraid you should put much more effort into it than I did. Otherwise you might get just this: A mere 0,13 $ for almost an entire year of writing.

Happiness is relative – but money helps

As some of my readers know, I am a frequent visitor to the website http://www.visualcapitalist.com. It offers a tremendous amount of information in a very easily digestible manner: Smart visualizations. Most recently I have stumbled upon this graphic:

world-happiness-map-2019

I like to be very careful with definitions about such basic terms as “happiness” and especially with the criteria that are going into the scoring system. This is because some things one person may perceive as being essential to one’s happiness, but someone else might see it as completely irrelevant.

This graphic has its origins in the https://worldhappiness.report and you can see for yourself how the gathered data has been evaluated, and ultimately resulted in the given scores.

When looking at this report, I can’t help but notice that the happiest places in the world are also the places with the strongest economic status and specifically GDP per capita. This is by no means an accident.

Fact is that wealth, personal or government’s funds aimed at social purposes can contribute to the happiness of individuals in many ways. If you don’t worry about food, shelter, health, and education, life is becoming simpler. Your worries go away, stress levels go down and the future becomes bright. Even if you might miss some good chances along the way, you might still be doing fine knowing that your children have the same or even better opportunities in the future.

So when people say that money doesn’t buy happiness, I would say that this statement is questionable at least. The wealth that is available for your personal use, whether via your own funds or through the support of your government, will produce, statistically, a higher chance for you to be happy. And it is, therefore, no surprise that the happiest nations in the world tend to be among the richest and socially most engaged.

Everyone is a nobody to somebody

I don’t really remember where I read this quote, but it’s so accurate and so much matching my way of thinking, that I really felt like needing to write about it. Everyone is a nobody to somebody. Why do I consider this important for this blog?

The truth is that nobody cares about who you are…

The rise of social media is, in my opinion, a strong sign that people really feel… well, the right word may be “insignificant”. They might be not fully aware of this, but deep down most of us must know how unimportant we actually are as an individual person. And we are trying to compensate this through social media.

By connecting with thousands of people and bombarding them daily with posts and pictures of what we do, what we eat, where we go and how amazing our lives are, we are desperately trying to stand out from the crowd with the hope that actually anybody cares.

Every “like” we receive is a confirmation of the expected recognition, every comment makes us happy… but in fact, since everybody does that, it’s really meaningless. As long as you are only trying to convince others that you do stand out from the crowd, nobody really cares, no matter how many likes you get.

Don’t be sad or disappointed. There over 7 billion people on this planet, why would you think that you are special? Do you actually care about anyone else from your social media network to a degree that you would actually call this person occasionally? I mean like a real call, having a chat for half an hour? I bet the list of people who would match even only this one simple requirement is really short… it is, therefore, only logical that most of your connections think exactly the same.

… unless you have something that others want

Things change however if you have something that others want or need. Usually, this comes down to only three relevant things: Money, power or influence.

Everybody wants to have more money. Money can not only make your life easy and buy you stuff, but it also can give you access to a better and longer life, even more success (you need money to create more money), a privileged style of living, or simply the convenience of not having the same worries as millions of all other people who have neither money nor power. Money creates a feeling of greed and jealousy.

Power can be generated by money or create money in the process of being executed. It can be physical, intellectual, political or even lethal. Power puts you in control of others in the most direct way possible and is therefore mostly feared but also adored.

Influence can be generated by money and/or power, or it can work out vice versa, creating money and/or power in the process of executing your influence. It’s a sneaky and smart approach that is often being despised in its ways but adored in its results.

If you will be identified as a person with either money, power or influence, your life may change dramatically. But mark my words: Not necessarily for the better.

It’s good to be a nobody

Because once you have been identified, you will become something we call a “public person”. A politician, a billionaire, a movie star… you might be jealous of their glamorous lives, but if you really, reaaaaallly think about it, are you sure that you would want to be a public person?

Having money, power or influence is automatically putting a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. People want some part of it, and hold you responsible for all your achievements. If you become rich, people want to know how you became rich and you can also rest assured that they will judge you on it. Same goes for your power and influence. How you got it and how you use it, with who you share it – everything will become public and in many instances, somebody will want to have his or her cut of it. Whether it will be in the form of taxes, public pressure or even physical or mental enforcement. People will start coming after you.

That’s why when aiming for the riches, I personally would probably never reveal to anyone anything about my success. I will reduce or even completely seize my social media presence, and ensure to live a humble way of life without standing out from the crowd in a too obvious way.

From my point of view, escaping the rat race is about getting your time back for yourself. This just doesn’t happen if you become a public person. This is the reason why I intend to become a nobody once I reached the stage of calling it a day, quitting my job and start following my passions.

There is no real right or wrong here and everyone will have his or her own view on it, so I leave it to you to decide how you will prefer to handle this, once you reach your financial targets. Just make sure that you take a moment and really think about it.

Counting Weeks

I don’t know about you, but when I was significantly younger, a year felt like a very long time. Christmas was always so far away, the time to my next birthday always seemed to never pass and my parents always looked the same. They didn’t seem to get older.

Today, at the age of 38, I see things very differently. A year has only 52 weeks. And those 52 weeks seem to be passing by faster, year on year.

My day routine is pretty caught up with working in the hotel from 8:00 – 19:00 hrs, commuting, then spending time with my family from 19:30 – 21:30 hrs, exercising from 21:30 – 23:00 hrs and while I cool down after the workout, I usually write on my blog or for my side-gig, The Motley Fool. For most days I go to sleep after midnight at around 1:00 in the night.

Having such a tight schedule was something that I actually never wanted. When you go to school or even study, you really don’t realize how much personal free time you have just for yourself. You might hate to wake up early and to learn all about history, biology and politics for 6 hours a day, but when you get out from school the clock will tick at somewhere around 14:00 or 15:00 hrs. Even if you would go to sleep early at lets say 22:00 hrs, this still means that you got 7-8 hours a day just for yourself! Day-in, day-out. Oh, and of course you have the entire weekend on top of that. And those long summer holidays, which are much longer than any future vacation you will have in any contract.

In the past, time seemed to be abundant, because I was just so much less busy. So much less occupied. I didn’t realized at that time, that my parents were covering such a huge chunk of my responsibility, which would catch up to me as soon as I would try to make it on my own.

Paying rent, having healthcare, covering for any means of transportation and of course, all those small pleasures in life… all those need to be paid for. And as we grow into the system, we trade our time for money. Money, which we spend to ensure that we can worry a little less. Unfortunately, this is an on-going process and your sense of security by paying rent and paying of your health-insurance, it’s a subscription based model. If you miss a payment, this subscription will expire and your worries will be back on.

So I keep counting the weeks, I keep investing, saving. And I continue to count… until I reach the point that I can finally break out of this system. That I won’t need to trade of time for money, and that my worries about my family and myself will become a thing of the past.

Drama is all around

For anyone who was thinking that 2019 would offer some political stability and economic recovery, the year started pretty awful. Let’s take a look:

  1. Brexit – everything hints at a total disaster with the UKs decision to leave the EU. We can expect high market volatility and a lot of insecurity on how an unorganised Brexit will actually effect everyone.
    My take on this matter: The Brexit will be cancelled. I think everyone already understood, that the British government is not capable of managing something on such a huge scale. For investors, there may be some great opportunities to watch out for: Vodafone offers an all-time high dividend yield of 8,8%, GlaxoSmithKline is at 4,9%, and Royal Dutch Shell (B) is at 6,1%. It might be a good time to take a closer look and risk-oriented investors might consider building-up some first positions.
  2. Trump Impeachment – Another huge topic to look at. The investigation into a Russian collusion is proceeding very quickly and Trumps own people start turning on each other and on Trump. American news outlets don’t give us really any clear picture on what is happening. You can watch CNN or FOX discussing the same issue and you will get completely different interpretations and results depending on the channel you prefer to watch. However, in the end, something big will happen and this end might happen very soon. I am almost certain that we will see things clearing up in 2019.
    My take on this: Politics in the US are seriously messed up and Trump may survive this. If he does, the future is truly unpredictable and even more, I would then expect Trump to even win a re-election. If he doesn’t survive this drama, then we may see markets rise together with democrats regaining power. We would probably see stabilising tariffs, politicians focusing on trade and reducing international disputes and a generally speaking more positive sentiment. I would love to see that happen, but for now I remain sceptical.
  3. Chinas expansion – If you watched Mr. Xi’s New Years speech, you might actually get scared. Telling on television to his own troops to get ready for conflicts, and to emphasise his position about reserving the right to take Taiwan by any means including force is not a small thing. At the same time, we have the South China Sea boiling up, China’s investments in infrastructure and technology projects and companies across the globe, and a stronger than ever buildup of military power, intelligence and provocations with even the mightiest nations in the world.
    My take on this: China got some serious issues to tackle and apparently more and more challenges to control its economy and its population. A dangerous mix that has, historically speaking, often led governments who try everything to prevail in power to do stupid things. What worries me the most is that China seems absolutely not concerned about challenging not only the USA, but also Canada, Japan, all South East Asian nations and even Europe. All at the same time. Their tricky rhetoric and massive cash deployments across the globe are being met with more and more scepticism and might turn into a very negative sentiment by the end of this decade. I have only 1 Chinese company in my portfolio (Baozun) and will probably refrain from any further investments in the Chinese market, until it becomes more clear where this country is actually heading.
  4. European Dramas – with all the Brexit talks, the only other topic in the EU that is still coming up frequently, is Mr. Macron and his failure to find a proper communication channel to the French. The yellow-vest-movement shrank, but turned more violent and could gain new traction at any time. All this happens for one main reason: France is in trouble as its economic numbers don’t match up. But to be fair, it’s not only France. Spain, Greece, Italy… there are tons of problems to tackle and any of these countries could cause a major drama in 2019.
    My take on this: If the Brexit will be cancelled, then Europe will be just fine. On the other hand, if the UK really leaves the EU, the results will be unpredictable. We might see other countries willing to follow suit which could eventually destroy the EU as we know it. In terms of investments however, Europe is a paradise at the moment. So many great and undervalued stocks out there, that it’s hard to list them all.

I will keep it at this 4 points for this post, but there are actually so many other things and dramas to worry about, that there is only 1 conclusion that we can be truly sure off for 2019: It will be an exciting year.

Disclosure: I own all stocks mentioned in this article.

2019 – Drop the resolutions!

Yes, you read right. The new year started but we don’t do the resolution stuff. We start the year with serious targets.

Today is the 6th of January, so the 1st week is almost gone. This means that we have roughly another 51 weeks to meet our own, ambitious but still realistic expectations on 2019. What can be done in 51 weeks? Here are my targets:

  1. Improve on time management. As you all know, and as the sub-headline of this blog indicates it: It’s all not about money, it’s about time. Time is our most precious resource and it needs to be managed well. A day has 24 hours. After deducting those 6-7 hours that are necessary to re-charge our batteries, plenty of things can be achieved each and every single day, if we allocate the remaining time efficiently. I would rate myself rather poor on this skill so far, as I still spend way too much time with my phone, while I could allocate more time to this blog, to my side hustle, to stock analysis, and to my workout routine. I will start slowly by:
    • trying to leave work on time,
    • delete useless apps from my phone and
    • to schedule my workout routine a little earlier throughout the day (so far I was always exercising after 10 pm)
  2. Increase side hustle earning by 50%. Right now I am writing about 1 article a week on average. I will try to increase this to 6 articles a month to curb my side-hustle income and to have more cash available for investments.
  3. Increase my dividend income by at least 10%. That’s right. While this should be not a problem, I put it on my target list. Most of my stocks will increase the dividend throughout this year anywhere between 2% up to 25%. However, I can also increase my dividend output by buying more stocks of companies which I already owe and which had been dragged down throughout 2018. This will cost-average down the stock-price in my portfolio and thus increase my average yield on cost per stock.
  4. Prepare for a larger market crash by saving up enough cash to be equivalent of 50% of my current stock portfolio volume. That’s the biggest and most difficult one, because this would require me to really try to achieve my savings target of 40% of my total annual income. Not impossible, but a tough one.
  5. Find a new job and re-negotiate my base salary by at least +20%. As mentioned in the last post, it should be possible due to my current situation, but I will aim even significantly higher. With perks and benefits, the total value increase should be at around 35%.
  6. Take a break for 1 month in between jobs. Yes, I put this in my target list also. I need time to recover and re-charge after my current assignment. I have now worked almost 2 years with a 6-day workweek, spending on average roughly 65 hours a week in my hotel. This does not include my side-hustle activities, my family time and my exercise routines (which takes 1,5 hours per day). So yes, to ensure I get no heart-attack before time, taking a break for a month will be commendable.
  7. Visit Japan and/or Korea this year. Indeed, it is about time. I haven’t gone to Korea and Japan since 2012 which is a real shame. I know my parents want to see my daughter and want us to go to Europe, but Japan and Korea is the reason why I moved to Asia in the first place and I seriously need to visit this beautiful places once again. On top, I have promised my wife this trip for a very long time.
  8. Exercise routine annual target:
    • 36,500 push-ups (100 per day),
    • 18,250 burpees (50 per day or 150 every 3 days),
    • 18,250 squats (50 per day or 150 every 3 days),
    • 3,650 pull-ups (10 per day),
    • Fresh-up of all my martial arts / kata routines
  9. Actively teaching German and English to my 3 year old daughter for 30 min a day
  10. Actively involve my daughter in my exercise routine to practice with me. She already started to sit on my head when I do squats or push-ups and loves to hang on to me when I try to do pull-ups, but this can be fostered more

So yeah, many things to do and 51 weeks is actually a short time. The older we get, the more we realise how precious time is. Let’s make the most of it.

And no, you really don’t need 8 hours sleep. The day is just too short to spend 1/3 of it with doing nothing.

This year, I also intend to write more about individual stocks and my investments. So just to give a brief heads-up, here a list of stocks which will be discussed and possibly purchased sometime in 2019:

Monthly dividend paying stocks:

  • Gladstone Investment
  • Main Street Capital
  • Realty Income
  • Apple Hospitality

Regular Stocks:

  • Ares Capital
  • Cisco Systems
  • Starbucks
  • Microsoft
  • McDonalds
  • Coca Cola
  • Merck
  • Pfizer
  • Iron Mountain
  • Tesla
  • Bayer
  • BASF
  • Aumann
  • DÜRR
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Royal Dutch Shell (B)
  • Baozun
  • Alibaba
  • QQQ

ETF:

  • iShares MDAX UCITS ETF

Disclosure: Some of those stocks I already owe, some I had in my portfolio in the past but sold them with a profit and plan to buy again when prices drop.

So get ready for a furious, active and hopefully rewarding 2019!