Updated: Mar 1, 2021
Edit - As I was preparing to upload this blog, protestors have stormed the Capitol Building in Washington DC. I am completely shocked and continue to watch in utter dismay. This is absolutely unbelievable.
Edit 2 - I held off on posting this blog yesterday. I felt we were watching history and it was neither the time or place. My goal was to remain neutral in these posts, but I can no longer do so in good faith. I know I called for a revolution in the last post, but I certainly didn’t call for one in the name of Donald Trump. If people were storming DC regarding the ever increasing wealth disparity, I would be all for it. But for a wannabe dictator? I just can't fathom the idea. How is this America? Normal people fighting to hand over power to a self-described Billionaire? It's the exact opposite of what actually needs to be happening. But unfortunately, people have been ingrained with this Red vs. Blue mentality. And Trump, Facebook, Twitter, and News Channels have just further increased the divide. And this is the result; a power hungry man using this division to try and seize control of this country.
Let me be perfectly clear; the people voted and Joe Biden won the presidential election.
Despite the narrative that is being pushed by Trump and several seditious GOP members, there is absolutely zero evidence of voter fraud or illegal ballots. In fact, the same GOP members calling for this insurrection were on the very same ballots Trump believes are illegal. That's right! In case you are unaware, all elections are on a single ballot (Presidential, Senate, Representatives, and even Courts). They want you to believe that only the presidential election portion of the ballot was rigged, yet somehow, since they won, the rest of the ballots are perfectly fine. If there was truly something awry, shouldn’t they want to throw out all ballots and have a re-vote? Nope, these traitors know the truth; Trump lost fair and square. They are simply trying to swindle you. They’re invoking fear. They’re stoking the fire. They are using this moment to seize absolute power. In layman's terms: They are trying to destroy our democracy.
And now, they’ve gotten citizens to do their dirty work. Trump encouraged his followers to storm the Capitol Building. And they did, because they they truly believe they are fighting for freedom. But they're being fleeced. They’re merely pawns in his coup. Today, we live in a free country. If power is seized, what do they think will happen? Do they think life is better under a dictator? Look around the world. They will be forced into shitty working conditions, working more hours for less money. Food will be scarce. Their land will be seized. All their every movements will be monitored. Everything they are fighting against will become reality. Trump and his corporate friends will take full advantage of the power. And in case you are unaware, that's not the point of a revolution.
To the people who support yesterday's riots, I say this: I know this is hard to hear, but Donald Trump does not give a shit about you. His only concern is himself, power and money. I promise you this; one day you will realize you are being conned. I just hope it won’t be too late.
I’m sure the people that need to read those words won’t, but they had to be written. If you are still here, thank you. Your reward will be some insights on investing and how to start putting your money to work. Without further ado, I present blog number 2…
Congratulations, by now you should have received your stimulus check from the government. Wait, what’s that? You didn’t receive your check? Hm let me look into this. Quick google search... ahh here it is. The government sent your checks to Turbo Tax and HR Block. No big deal, I’m sure this will get sorted out quickly. It’s not like you need the money now, right?
Who could have known the government was so inept? Oh right, I did. See my last blog post here .
Speaking of our wonderful government, remember last week when there was this idea that you might actually get a $2,000 stimulus check. Well, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell decided you didn’t need any extra money. That’s right, a single person had the power to determine whether or not 300 million people needed additional funds in these trying times. McConnell saw Americans drowning, was handed a life raft by Congress and instead of throwing it to us, decided to let us drown. He didn’t even put the bill to a vote; a bill that was overwhelmingly passed in the house and which many senators came out in support of, because he wouldn’t be “bullied” into giving rich people more money. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t consider someone making less than $75,000 a year especially rich. So either this guy is out of touch with reality or he has massive disdain for the average person. I’m leaning towards the latter, especially since actual rich people continue to get free money day after day due in large part to his actions in office.
Last night something beautiful happened though - McConnell was stripped of his power. With the entire country watching, the people of Georgia voted in their senate runoff elections. Choosing between two wealthy people with histories of using their seats for financial gain and two progressives with working class backgrounds, Georgians finally voted for change. In doing so, Georgians removed McConnell as majority leader in the Senate. He can no longer single handedly block bills that help the average American. He can no longer single handedly push bills that help his wealthy friends and their billion dollar corporations. He is back to just being an average Senator from Kentucky. Despite how you feel politically, hear this: no man should have had that much power. We vote for representation, not authoritarianism.
Now I know what you’re thinking - won’t the new majority leader have the same power? Yes, he will (Chuck Schumer will most likely become the new majority leader). But will they abuse the power is the real question? Time will tell, but all I know is status quo wasn’t working for the average person. So I, for one, am fully in support of change.
Ok, enough politics, let’s get back to that stimmy. What are you going to do with that fat stack of paper? Wait, no one carries cash anymore. What are you going to do with that piece of plastic in your pocket? Oh, you’re like the 60% of people who will be using this money to pay for rent, groceries or bills? Well I sincerely hope this $600 helps in some way and the additional $1,400 is passed as soon as possible and maybe, just maybe, you can get ahead. For the other 40%, I’m urging you to listen. You do not need that new iPhone. You do not need a Playstation 5. You do not need random bullshit from Amazon. You need to put that money to work for you. First, pay down any debt you have. I can’t stress this enough. Debt is your worst enemy. Now, if you are lucky enough to have no debt, buy stocks, buy Bitcoin, buy any asset you want. Do not just let that money sit in your savings account. It will lose value quicker than a brand new car driving off the lot.
Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at some charts.
First, here is the dollar index.The cross-hairs represent where the dollar was when the blog came out. In two weeks, the dollar lost an additional 1.1% of its value. That means everything, and I mean everything, costs 1.1% more than it did two weeks ago.
The second chart is the S&P500 Index; a basket of 500 companies that gets tends to represent the overall market. Again, the cross-hairs represent previous blog date. In two weeks, the index has increased 2.2%.
The third chart represents the Dow Index; a basket of 30 stocks that loosely represent the entire market sectors. Cross-hairs represent first blog publication, meaning it has gone up 2.9% in two weeks.
And finally, the most eye-opening chart; Bitcoin. In just two weeks, Bitcoin has increased 53%. Are people realizing the dollar is dead? Are people just trying to make money? Or are people choosing change? Update - Bitcoin has surged to $38,000 in the 24 hours after the blog went live.
If the charts don’t mean anything to you, let me explain it to you in layman’s terms. You can either let this free money lose value sitting in a savings account OR you can take the money, purchase assets and let it make you even more free money. It’s like a life hack - making money out of thin air. You can pretend to be your very own Federal Reserve, printing money like it has no affect on the world.
Now, I am aware some of you have never purchased stock or Bitcoin before. With technology, everything is at our fingertips. Back in the day you would have to call a broker and tell them what you wanted to do. They would try to sell you some bullshit stock that was probably a scam. And then you would lose all of your money, and the broker was on to scamming the next Joe Schmo. But thanks to tech, brokers are becoming obsolete. All you need is a smartphone or laptop and you can start buying stocks or cryptocurrencies in minutes. The old school mentality is that this is dangerous; people are treating stock and options trading like a game. But the truth is it’s been a game to the wealthy for over a century, the danger is in not playing.
Where can I go? Well, the popular app among the young whipper snappers is Robinhood. It makes buying and selling stock so easy a caveman can do it, sorry Geico cavemen. You download the app, answer a few questions, deposit money and boom, you can buy and sell stocks. Yes, it’s really that easy. But the main reason this app gained popularity was the no fee structure. Other online brokers would charge you $5 for every trade you made. This made trading stocks less enticing for the average person. But this leveled the playing field a bit. Other brokers saw the writing on the wall and after years of charging these ludicrous fees, fees were removed across the board. In my opinion, Robinhood has by far the best user interface on smartphones. It’s straightforward, color coded and well laid out. It’s a great way for a newbie to start, but once you have a decent amount of funds, you should really consider Schwab, TD Ameritrade, or Ally, especially now that those pesky fees are gone.
Alright, now you are set up. You have some of that stimulus in Robinhood or some other broker, and you are ready to start trading. But what do you purchase? Let me preface by saying that I am not a financial advisor, but my recommendations to someone just starting out are to buy exchange trades funds (ETFs) or companies you know and use everyday. ETFs are a good way to get your feet wet without doing the research. You are essentially buying a basket of stocks and more likely than not, the average of those stocks goes up, meaning you will make money over time. If you want to add a little more risk, stick with what you know. Like Apple products? But Apple stock, ticker AAPL. Use Amazon for essentially everything? Buy Amazon stock, ticker AMZN. Drink a Starbucks coffee everyday? Buy Starbucks stock, ticker SBUX. This could go on and on. Stay in your wheelhouse. Don’t go out trying to buy some oil stock that a friend of a friend says is going to take off because he read something online. Leave that to the clowns on wallstreetbets. GUH.
Alright, now you have some shares of different stocks, maybe you are ready for Bitcoin. Robinhood also has the ability to purchase Bitcoin, but I don’t recommend purchasing through them. You won’t own the underlying asset, you will only own a derivative. All that means is they own the Bitcoin, you own a piece of paper saying you have a right to a portion of a coin. That doesn’t work for me. So, if you want to own cryptocurrency, the easiest method is through Coinbase. Similar to Robinhood, you download the app, answer a few questions, deposit money and purchase crypto. There are fees here though so keep that in mind. The fees are 0.5% based on amount being purchased. Quite high in my opinion, but they are the best out there for United States citizens. And, the key takeaway, you actually own the underlying asset.
There you have it. If you haven’t started thinking about your future, this is your chance. Take that $600, pay off debt. If there’s any left, put it to work. If an additional $1,400 is passed, put that to work for you as well. Going forward, throw a few bucks in every week and keep buying more little by little (This method is called dollar cost averaging, I can go further into detail in future blogs). You have to start somewhere. The best time to invest was yesterday, the second best time is today.
We voted for change in the government. Now it’s time for change in how we see money.