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My favorite author, Morgan Housel, released his new book, The Psychology of Money, last week. In the book, Housel discussed many interesting psychological phenomenon, through the lens of finance. As I flipped through the pages, I started to realize so much of what's happening in fatFIRE
are examples of what's discussed in the book. No One's Crazy
The book begins with how your personal experiences with money make up maybe 0.000000001% of what's happened in the world, but maybe 80% of how you think the world works.
For example, if you were born in 1970, the S&P 500 increased almost 10-fold, adjusted for inflation, during your teens and 20s. That's an amazing return. If you were born in 1950, the market went literally nowhere in your teens and 20s adjusted for inflation. Two groups of people, separated by chance of their birth year, go through life with a completely different view on how the stock market works. Takeaways for fatFIRE
When you read other posts and comments about what stocks to buy, what startups to join, what's the economy going to be like, what's the best asset allocation, etc., remember that is just a single person's point of view. That person may be from a different generation, earns different incomes, upholds different values, keeps different jobs, and has different degrees of luck.
And remember, don't be mean to others. A view about money that one group of people thinks is outrageous can make perfect sense to another. Luck & Risk
The next chapter discusses the big role luck and risk plays in someone's life. Luck and risk are two sides of the same coin.
Examples from the book: Countless fortunes (and mistakes) owe their outcomes to leverage. The best (and worst) managers drive their employees as hard as they can. "The customers are always right" and "customers don't know what they want" are both accepted business wisdom. The line between "inspiringly bold" and "foolishly reckless" can be a millimeter thick and only visible with hindsight. Risk and luck are doppelgängers. Takeaways for fatFIRE
Be careful who you praise and admire. That commenter who joined a unicorn at Series A may look like a genius on the outside, but they may just be lucky and cannot repeat it again.
Be careful who you look down upon and wish to avoid becoming. That poster who joined WeWork may look like a fool, but they made the best decision based on the information they had at a time. They took a risk and got unlucky.
Therefore, focus less on specific individuals and case studies and more on broad patterns.
Furthermore, when things are going extremely well, realize it's not as good as you think -- like the stock market right now.
On the other hand, we should forgive ourselves and leave room for understanding when judging failures -- like the stock market in March. Never Enough
The hardest financial skill is getting the goalpost to stop moving. It gets dangerous when the taste of having more -- more money, more power, more prestige -- increases ambition faster than satisfaction.
Social comparison is the problem here. A rookie baseball players who earns $500k a year envies Mike Trout who has a 12-year, $430 million contract envies a hedge fund manager who makes $340 million a year envies Warren Buffett who had a $3.5 billion increase in fortune in 2018.
There are many things never worth risking, no matter the potential gain. Reputation is invaluable. Freedom and independence are invaluable. Friends and family are invaluable. Being loved by those who you want to love you is invaluable. Happiness is invaluable. And your best shot at keeping these things is knowing when it's time to stop taking risks that might harm them. Knowing when you have enough. Takeaways for fatFIRE
When you make a big gain, it's totally okay to take profit, as long as you keep your ambition down and acknowledge the possibility that it may go higher. If that happens, no need to play the would've should've could've game, because it very well might've gone the other way.
When you see someone who got 20x return on Shopify or bet big into Ethereum in 2016, remember they may envy the pre-IPO employees at Shopify or the genius who held Bitcoin since 2010.
At the end of the day, do not risk more than what's comfortable in your life for the sake of making huge amount of money, because even if you do make it, you may not find it worth it. Tails, You Win
Skipping a few chapters to talk about the prominence of tail events.
At the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting in 2013 Warren Buffet said he's owned 400 to 500 stocks during his life and made most of his money on 10 of them. Charlie Munger followed up: "If you remove just a few of Berkshire's top investments, its long-term track record is pretty average."
In 2018, Amazon drove 6% of the S&P 500's returns. And Amazon's growth is almost entirely due to Prime and Amazon Web Services, which itself are tail events in a company that has experimented with hundreds of products, from the Fire Phone to travel agencies.
Apple was responsible for almost 7% of the index's returns in 2018. And it is driven overwhelmingly by the iPhone, which in the world of tech products is as tail--y as tails get.
And who's working at these companies? Google's hiring acceptance rate if 0.2%. Facebook's is 0.1%. Apple's is about 2%. So the people working on these tail projects that drive tail returns have tail careers. Takeaways for fatFIRE
When we pay special attention to a role model's successes we overlook that their gains came from a small percent of their actions. That makes our own failures, losses, and setbacks feel like we're doing something wrong.
When you accept that tails drive everything is business, investing and finance you will realize that it's normal for lots of things to go wrong, break, fail and fall. If you are a good stock picker you'll be right maybe half the time. If you're a good business leader maybe half of your product and strategy ideas will work. If you're a good investor most years will be just OK, and plenty will be bad. If you're a good worker you'll find the right company in the right field after several attempts and trials. And that's if you're good. Freedom
The highest form of wealth is the ability to wake up every morning and say "I can do whatever I want today." The ability to do what you want, when you want, with who you want, for as long as you want, is priceless. It is the highest dividend money pays.
Research has shown having a strong sense of controlling one's life is a more dependable predictor of positive feelings of wellbeing than any of the objective conditions of life we have considered.
People like to feel like they're in control -- in the drivers' seat. When we try to get them to do something, they feel disempowered. Rather than feeling like they made the choice, they feel like we made it for them. So they say no or do something else, even when they might have originally been happy to go along. Takeaways for fatFIRE
Most of you probably are working thought-based and decision job, your tool is your head, which never leaves you. You might be thinking about your project during your commute, as you're making dinner, while you put your kids to sleep, and when you wake up stressed at three in the morning. You might be on the clock for fewer hours than you would in 1050. But it feels like you're working 24/7.
If this feels like you, and you do not like it, it is totally fine to switch to a job that pays less but gives you more freedom and independence, because freedom and independence are what FatFire
is all about.
I'm only half way into the book
, but I can tell this will be one of the best finance book of 2020. If you guys find this useful, happy to come back next week with more insights once I've gotten to the end. I like talking about these things on Twitter
Edit: here's part 2
and here's a Twitter thread
of the best snippets
For me personally, I would have avoided all the Canadian Dividend Growth stocks, and stick to 100% ETF's. submitted by
I would fill my TFSA in 2015 (when I started) with 80% XAW and 20% XIC instead of individual stocks.
If you could restart, how would you change things? Try to keep it rationale, don't say you would go all in on Bitcoin if that's not something you would have done in the moment without the benefit of foresight.
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