Save. Spend. Splurge.

Investing Series: You really don’t give a rat’s ass about your money, do you?

I am starting to realize that if you are a person who has….

  • ever randomly picked some mutual fund based on historical (past) returns
  • haven’t looked at your return on said mutual funds you’ve picked since you did it 10 years ago
  • only got a 1.5% return in 2013 rather than the unprecedented surge in the stock markets (32% for the U.S. S&P 500 alone)
  • don’t know what a management expense ratio is and how it eats away at your piddly return
  • give $7000 a year to charities then whine about how you don’t have money

..then you really, REALLY don’t care about your money.

(I got all of the above “stats” about a family called the Goldmans in a January 2014 MoneySense article, and it made me realize they were typical, average folks (i.e. not PF bloggers).)


That couple in that January 2014 MoneySense magazine (Goldmans)?

They not only win in my books for being lazy 6-figure-making whiners about their money (akin to these folks: Almost Rich: Earning $160,000 – $200,000 a year and barely making it) who really don’t give a rat’s ass about their finances, but they also win for having their priorities all SCREWED UP.

They donate $7000 a year to charities ($583.33 a month — tithing?) but they can’t really afford to do it.

They haven’t saved enough in their retirement funds (at the ages of 35 and 39) they had $285,000 as their net worth, and blamed daycare at $22,500 a year as their financial downfall and the whole reason why they are not farther ahead financially.

No, Goldman Family.

Your downfall is not spending the time to read about how to properly invest your savings and to prioritize where your money should go for your family.

On top of that you give $7000 to charities a year, while saving less than half of that ($2300) in your children’s education funds and bemoaning the fact that you can’t save more in those plans nor in your retirement plans.

canada-bill-money-1000-cash This Bill x 7 given to other people other than those in your family in need


You’re basically prioritizing other people over your own kids with money that you don’t even have to spare, to boot.

Talk about ridiculous.

Call me selfish but I am going to give to my children first before a charity, or at the very least if my priority was to save for my children’s future, I am going to give MORE to my children than to a charity.

(Not that I plan on putting anything in their educational funds that is, seeing as I won’t be paying for my kids’ college educations.)

Give as much as you want to charities but then you don’t have the right to:

  • whine that you don’t have enough money
  • bitch that you worry you haven’t saved enough for your kids
  • complain that your retirement fund looks pathetic

I’m of the belief that you should take care of yourself first (even above your children, and in this case it is making sure you have enough money for YOUR retirement to live) before taking care of others.

Oh and they did complain that the mutual fund they put their money in and forgot all about it about 10 years ago was only returning 1.5% in 2013 and “disappointing them”. They also admitted that they should take a look at it and do something about it.


You choose this time now, 10 years later publicly for a MoneySense article to be disappointed in your return?

2013 was a stellar year for stock markets.

As I mentioned above, it was a 32% return on the S&P 500 and if you only got 1.5% it means 3 things:

  1. Your bank/financial institution is really making a killing off you — I’d like to invest in THAT bank please
  2. You picked a mutual fund randomly and probably based on ‘historical returns’ 10 years ago & didn’t look at it since
  3. You don’t have a clue what you’re doing with your money and couldn’t care less

Just admit it it — You don’t care about your money.

You say you care… but you really don’t because it’s too difficult to spend time to learn about how to invest your money properly.

Actions speak louder than words.


See, what irks me and makes me shake my head at all of the above actions is that these people are actually doing the right things and making the right motions.

They’re already saving money and saving it consistently…. and that’s the HARDEST part of it all!!

The worst is that you don’t track what you do with your money and couldn’t spend even 15 hours to spend time reading about how basic investing works, but then you are perfectly happy to spend 15 hours researching what car to buy, or which laptop would best suit your needs.

If you ignore your money, and think “Oh if I just save it’ll all work out somehow in the end“, you’re not only delusional, you are a prime victim for banks to make a killing off you.


It’s a bit like throwing thousands of random seeds (your savings) into a garden one year (a random mutual fund), forgetting about it, and then hoping the rain and sun will take care of it all so that it’ll yield a nice variety of vegetables (a retirement plan) for you at the end of the year.

What will probably happen (or has already happened) is that..

  • birds will come by and eat the seeds (these are the banks and their management expense ratios
  • the seeds will rot/dry up from a lack of watering or over watering (this is your money going nowhere)
  • weeds will come in and choke the life out of any budding plants (bankers who sell you high price funds)

..and you will end up with (at best), a few weak plants out of the thousands of seeds you’ve planted.

At worst, you will end up with very little rotten or withered seeds at the end and wonder where you went wrong because it felt like you were saving so much and living paycheque to paycheque.


Case in point — I recently received an email from a business school acquaintance who is about 2 years younger than me. I don’t really remember how we met but we ended up staying in touch over the years and chatting on and off.

Anyway, she emails me asking about my thoughts on investing and is throwing around big investing words and concepts like book value, market value, return on investment, that business school graduates learn by rote and wax poetic about on exams to get a good grade.

She even tells me about how she started buying certain stocks, which I assumed was just for fun.

Good start, right?


No it wasn’t.

After a few back and forth emails, I realize she has no frickin’ clue what an index fund is, let alone how to value a stock.

I start to understand that she was randomly buying stocks based on rumours, wanted to make money quick and thought I had the answers.

*face palm*

Investing is not just for people who went to business schools, so stop telling yourself that in an attempt to mask your laziness.

I’ll bet you that if you ask 100 random people from business schools, only about 50% of them will actually know something about investing, and an even lower percentage of them will be women.

Sad, but true.


Investing is not difficult.

You don’t necessarily need to know more than basic grade school math to get these concepts — percentages, addition, subtraction, division, multiplication are the essence of what I use.

I am really not a smart math-oriented type person.

My partner is, I am not.

I don’t really get excited over math, and I had to work pretty hard to understand advanced math in school (which I promptly forgot all about once I passed the exams).

You do not need to know how to use management science to run regressions, or calculus or algebra to grasp basic concepts because you are not an academic.


For the main reason that you do not need to prove how it works!

Other people have already done that and you just need to take what they have found and learned, apply it to your life and learn them.

Leave that complicated stuff to people like Einstein.



How long do you think it would take to learn how to invest before you feel “comfortable”?

A year? 10 years?

Do you think you need a PhD before you’re comfortable putting money on the stock market?

Let me let you in on a secret — if what you needed was a PhD to become filthy rich, why aren’t more finance professors billionaires?

Your time spent in education has nothing to do with learning the basics of investing and understanding it.

You could have barely graduated high school and end up learning how to invest your money, if only you gave a rat’s ass enough to do it.

In reality, I’ve estimated that you only need about 15 – 20 hours to pick up how to invest for the rest of your life depending on how fast you read.

Less than that if you just skip over investing in individual stocks and just focus on investing in boring index funds and making sure you pick the right index funds.

Incidentally, this is the advice that legendary rainmaking investor Warren Buffett has said that every Joe and Jane Schmo should invest their money in.

It’s learning basic terminology and concepts ( management expense ratio is my favourite pick for this), picking up the RIGHT books to read, then spending time really absorbing what they are saying.

Then all you need to do, is apply it to your life.


After you get the concepts and get a good grasp on what to do, it only takes 4 hours a year to maintain that.

Seriously. 1 – 4 hours.

Do not goddamn sell me a sob story and tell me you do not have 1-4 hours a YEAR.

I do not want to hear it and your lame excuses.

You just need to set up an index fund portfolio and then re-balance it every quarter or every year.



Start here.

Even if it takes you a full hour to read each of these articles, it is only 15 hours out of your life.

  1. What is ‘investing’, exactly?
  2. How I started investing
  3. Is investing partly a crapshoot?
  4. What to look out for when you’re investing: Fees and other Tactics
  5. What kind of investor ar you?
  6. What does re-balancing a portfolio mean?
  7. How should most people invest their money?
  8. How do you get money to get started in investing?
  9. What is an “MER” or Management Expense Ratio?
  10. What is a mutual fund?
  11. What is the difference between a mutual fund and an exchange-traded fund?
  12. How to invest in index funds
  13. How do I set up an index fund portfolio?
  14. What is an “MER” or Management Expense Ratio?
  15. How to look for and pick an index fund to invest in

After reading those articles, if you are Canadian you are in luck, and you can start making changes to your accounts:



  • Revanche

    People need to realize that talking the talk does you no good if your portfolio can’t perform!

  • Bloom

    this is GREAT info! Just a heads up that many of the links don’t work.

  • Fig

    That family is an interesting example. It seems like they didn’t really know what their priorities were at all. It helps to figure that out and spend accordingly! I like your take on investing because I agree – it’s actually something pretty simple to understand and very important to do! I’m not a huge numbers person but I understand how important it is to ssave and put away a bit of money each month even though it’s not a lot.

  • Jeff

    If the charity donations were tithing then it can’t be helped. The church teaches that none of “your” money is actually yours. It’s all God’s money so you should give as much as you can and be content to live on what little is left. As for financial planning, the church teaches that you should trust God for your future, and holding back financially is a sign that you have not fully placed your faith in God. (After all, where your treasure is, your heart is also)

    When me and my wife did our budget, she insisted that tithing is non negotiable. The budget item for tithe comes before rent, food, utilities, and everything else. The compromise we made is that we only tithe on her income, but at least mine is intact.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      As long as you are willing to be in debt longer then it is your choice and your money to do as you wish. I am not religious so for me it is not something I do but I contribute to charities at year end as a percentage of my income.

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