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The J-Curve Model of Thinking, Living, and Investing

My friend Ravi came home for lunch last weekend. He looked dejected.

“It’s a bull market, Ravi!” I said trying to cheer him up, but he was in no mood to give away his dejection.

“I’m nearing forty, Vishal, and that makes me depressed.”

“Why Ravi? You should be happy that you’ve already left your dumb forty years behind!” I said jokingly.

“Be serious, Vishal! I mean, forty years have passed and it seems I have not achieved much in life. My salary is good but not great, I am travelling long hours every day for my job, my investment portfolio size is still a far cry from what I want to retire with, my stocks are doing well but not as well like what my other friends’ stocks are doing, and my dream of writing a bestseller novel is still a dream.”

“Wow! And you are nearing forty!” I said with a smile.

“You don’t have to remind me that!” Ravi replied with a smirk.

“Ravi, how much would you rate your life so far on a scale of one to ten?”

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Inverting the Money Problem

In the controversial movie, The Social Network, which supposedly portrayed Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook journey, Sean Parker’s character famously quipped –

“A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? A billion dollars.”

It’s probably the most favourite problem that majority of the individuals in the world are trying to figure out i.e., how to get rich?

So let’s investigate this problem by using Charlie Munger’s most cherished mental model i.e., inverting the problems to solve them.

One of the ways to invert the question of “How to Get Rich?” is to ask, “Is getting rich worth it?”

Before you decide to skip this article thinking that it’s another one of those “money can’t buy happiness” rant, just stick with me for few more minutes and I promise that you won’t regret it.

In fact, this is a good opportunity to wear our curiosity hats and look at the hardships that tag along with large sums of money. Now given the fact that the author, yours truly, isn’t super rich (money wise at least) and likely never will be, is it justified for him to comment on the problems of the rich?

In my defence, all I have to say is that I never let my lack of first-hand experience with a topic stop me from speculating on it. 🙂

Maybe, like the proverbial fox and his sour grapes, I am deluding myself with a story that I never wanted what I will never be able to get. Or maybe I belong to the camp of those cash-poor intellectual types who want to prove to the world that rich people secretly live a miserable life.

I am not ruling out any of these possibilities where my subconscious is playing a game.

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Safal Niveshak is 6 Years Old!

Birthdays aren’t a big deal when you grow up. And if you are like me, with a fading memory, you sometimes forget that you are growing up fast.

Like it happened yesterday. It took a reminder from someone to, well, remind me that it was Safal Niveshak’s birthday. 😉

So, this initiative that I started in 2011 with just one reader – yours truly – has completed six years. The tribe is now 32,422 members strong, with one-third of these coming in the last twelve months.

A lot has happened in these quick six years, but as with my six-year-old son, Safal Niveshak is just getting started.

Most of all, I want to thank each and every one of you for “raising” this initiative to this point — it truly could not have happened without you, dear tribe member.

I know I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating – Thank you so much for reading, for commenting, for your interest and support, for keeping me honest, for helping this entire movement of creating smarter and independent stock market investors become greater and spread wider.

You are magnificent, and I am supremely grateful for your time and attention.

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One Powerful Success Secret from Ben Franklin that Changed My Life

When I tell people how I manage my entire business on my own – from website management, to reading, writing, sending mailers, to organizing workshops and also booking a lot of travel tickets – a lot of them are in disbelief.

They disbelieve me even more when I tell them that I work for just 5-6 hours a day and take a lot of family holidays.

Well, I do not have any Masters degree in time management, but one thing that has really helped me manage my time well is a simple secret I’ve learned from people like Ben Franklin and Warren Buffett.

That simple secret is that of…

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How NOT to Teach Your Children about Money (A Personal Experiment)

“Kavya, what is money?” I asked my twelve-year old daughter recently, as she was deeply engrossed in a book.

Her answer stumped me, simply because I was not expecting it and in the way she said it.

She said, “Papa, money is something that, if we don’t waste, can get us bigger and better things in the future.”

“Wow!” I told her. “You deserve a hug for this.”

How Kavya defined money may not be its perfect definition, but it effectively contains almost the entire essence of how we must handle it (money).

It contains the importance of saving money by spending less money now, and letting the power of compounding grow that money so that we can maintain our purchasing power (and still have more money) in the future.

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One Idea That Could Change Your Life (and How You Invest)

“Good morning, Sir,” I called out to a man walking just ahead of me during my morning walk yesterday. Like me, he was a regular at the walking track and we often crossed each other exchanging smiles and wishes. I had heard good things about him from others, and so I thought of engaging him in an interaction.

“How are you doing today?” I asked him.

“Great, as always!” he replied with a smile of a ten-year old. He, by the way, looked ninety years of age but healthy enough to be walking at quick pace.

“I have been observing you for the past many days,” I said, “And you always wear a nice smile on your face and look so healthy. It seems you are living a great life.”

“Yeah, it’s always been wonderful,” he replied, “No regrets at all.”

“That’s wonderful!” I said, “But you’ve been lucky,” I murmured, which he could hear, “Else life is so full of adversities and regrets.”

“Yeah, that’s true,” he replied. “It’s adversity all the way, but that’s what life is supposed to be, isn’t it?”

“Maybe, but then that’s not a life you seem to have lived, right?” I asked. “I can see that you are happy and healthy at ninety years of age, and I know that you are financially free. In other words, you seem to have everything that is missing for most of us going through mid-life.”

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One Big Lesson I Learned Late in My Investing Life

One of the most profound thoughts I’ve ever read on the child-parent relationship comes from the noted Lebanese-American artist and poet Kahlil Gibran, who wrote the following under the title “On Children” –

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

The first time I read these thoughts, my first reaction was – “If my children are not my children, then whose are they? And what do you mean they are not mine?”

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The 38th Lesson

On a warm Sunday morning in early-April this year, I got up with some pain in the little finger of my left hand. It was a small bump. It wasn’t there when I slept the previous night, so it seemed to have appeared out of nowhere.

“You may have hurt your finger while sleeping,” said my wife.

“But there’s no sign of a cut or bleeding!” I told her. “What could be this?”

“It happens sometimes,” she tried to soothe my nerves.

Anyways, a week passed, and then two, and that bump got slightly bigger. It was a bit painful earlier, then more, and then the pain gradually reduced. But the redness and the bump remained.

Over the next two months, I saw around five different doctors, and all asked me to wait and watch and do nothing. I thought none of these doctors knew anything about this bump because each one had named it differently. And that is when I did something I now realize was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made in my life.

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