Knowing Enough and Enjoying With Less Money


Financial planner and chief investment officer Rubin Miller wrote a nice post about the money beliefs after spending time trading, working in Dimensional Fund Advisers and now serving clients.

There are a couple that captured my attention that I would like to share with everyone.


Understand What Drives Your Investment Outcomes.

Some people have the knack of saying everything in a few words.

It is a skill that I lack.

This belief of Rubin leans towards the investment side:


Portfolios live at a weird intersection of complexity and necessity: most people don’t know what’s going on inside them (understandably, most people haven’t studied investing), yet it’s also the critical determinant of how they’re going to live their life. Having the right portfolio is a huge stinking deal.

You don’t need to be an expert, but you should know what drives your outcomes because investment results are noisy. You want to know a realistic range of outcomes that are likely in the future, eventually assess whether results were realized within that range, and then understand why or why not.

It’s so important because long-term investors will inevitably experience disappointing periods, and you want the confidence to know that it’s exactly that — a disappointing period — rather than you having a designed an inappropriate portfolio, or your advisor being an idiot or crook.

But if you don’t know what drives your investment outcomes, you won’t know the difference.

Rubin Miller

In my singaporefi subreddit, there is this term called “VWRA and chill.”

This means that to cut the long story short, just invest in VWRA, which is the ticker for the Vanguard FTSE All-World UCITS ETF and then sit back and relax.

That sounds like a good plan and I don’t think it is too wrong but simple plans embed numerous nuances. If you are unaware of those nuances, you will eventually encounter a mismatch between the reality and your expectations.


The best investment that gives so good returns has some unsettling features:

  1. It is possible to hold for 10 to 15 years and end up still being negative.
  2. It is possible to see all your net wealth cut by half or more at some point.
  3. It is possible to have that sinking feeling whether your VWRA will or will not be affected by some macro-economic event.

If you are invested in something similar to the VWRA, are you aware of the features above?

You cannot just “VWRA and chill”.

You will have to know why VWRA deeper enough. And then try to chill.

Our first disappointment in life cuts deep because we may not realize such disappointment exists in life. And once we know that we realize we need to find a way to avoid them or find a way to cope. If your parents tell you disappointments exist, even before the first disappointment, it might be as useless because you won’t be serious about it.

This is why Rubin says it is important to know what is inside them.

If you are interested to know more about the VWRA so that you can chill, you can watch my more than one hour video where I break down something like the VWRA deep enough so that you have a better idea what is happening inside them.

Crafting an Ideal Passive Investment Portfolio for Your Life Goals

Can you have Fun without Buying Things?

“When it comes to financial planning inputs, ask yourself: What does a perfect day look like to me? is more important than inflation expectations and stock market returns,”

Too right here.

There are many people asking can I retire, because I have $X,XXX,XXX without explaining what does their perfect day or perfect week look like.

Money is the most important thing to secure and we think that what make or break our financial plan is the money.

It is not.

If you think your child should know the value of the university course, then the financial goal may just be half of the overall tuition fee. But if you never considered the desired outcome, you will set aside $200,000 over nothing. Well not nothing.

People just overbuffer.

Only enjoying things that cost money is a dark, perpetual abyss. And it’s most vicious quality is that it doesn’t announce itself: you have to have the humility and wherewithal to discover and acknowledge that you’re in it.

Financial planning, done in the wrong way, is mechanical and leads to disconnected outcomes.

Rubin succinctly states that if you learn to find things you enjoy without a huge cost, you may be able to gain the desired life you want, without a larger than expected capital. However, if you equate a great desired life always with a necessary price tag, then you have to spend more time working for it, or may not ever able to retire.

Sometimes, I question how much their adviser challenges their client if they come up with a crazy income requirement.

Bonus: How Many of Us Have Our Shit Together

Rubin’s friend, a rather famous friend drew the image on top.

Most want to retire to a good life and that good life is the antidote to a series of long-running fxxked up lives. But a good life may cost you quite a bit.

It was what Rubin said next that made me ponder more about:

Joke aside — as a professional, I am the guy on the left. A nearly 20-year career entrenched in financial decision-making.

But as an everyday person facing everyday money decisions, I am the guy on the right. Dealing with the same shit everyone else does. What can I spend? How should I spend it? How do I keep buying so much stuff when I keep telling myself to buy less stuff?

Rubin is both a planner and an investment specialist but we often forget that he is also a human being trying to make good decisions like many of his clients.

You may sometimes wonder if your planner has his or her money shxt together. After all, if he or she does not have their shxt together, then why are you entrusting your money to them?

Well, it is possible for them to NOT have their shxt together because they are busy bothering about your situation.

Sometimes I reflected at my lack of financial optimization and realize that we probably need to spend enough time making sure we are as financially sound as the people we are serving.

I invested in a diversified portfolio of exchange-traded funds (ETF) and stocks listed in the US, Hong Kong and London.

My preferred broker to trade and custodize my investments is Interactive Brokers. Interactive Brokers allow you to trade in the US, UK, Europe, Singapore, Hong Kong and many other markets. Options as well. There are no minimum monthly charges, very low forex fees for currency exchange, very low commissions for various markets.

To find out more visit Interactive Brokers today.

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