Imagine this: if you were around in the early 1900’s, which car company would you have invested in? There were hundreds of them. Most of them looked pretty good. Even as late as the 1950’s Studebaker, Nash, and American Motors would have looked pretty great. You would have no way of knowing Ford, GM, and Chrysler would have been the survivors and good investments.
Moreover, you don’t remember it, but in the late 90’s Apple was totally on life support. I think it was either Microsoft or Bill Gates tossed them some help, it was so bad. Steve Jobs came back and turned the whole mess around. If your dad had invested in them in 1986, he’d have sold it within 10 years and been happy to have walked away with more than $0.
Moreover #2, the late 90’s was the tech boom. Look up some info on Pets.com. Yahoo was the internet titan. AOL was everywhere and bought Time Warner. Dell Computers were huge. Compuserve. The 90’s was the same thing as cars in the early 1900’s. You had no way of knowing out of all the tech companies that Amazon and Google were going to be the survivors.
You know how Amazon basically used the internet to eat Sears’ lunch? That means smart and connected people fully immersed in the retail industry running the biggest retail business in the world and able to afford all the consultants and research they could want couldn’t even comprehend what technology was going to do within a decade or two or spot what was going to be their downfall and you think you could have managed to pick Amazon out of all the tech companies at the same time?
Moreover #3, the places where there are spectacular opportunities, they occur to people around the founder and early employees and people in the venture capital industry. You’d had to have known Mark Zuckerberg in college or his parents and been able to lend a nerd with a computer $50k, or been an early employee of a “shaky” at best company. That’s the risk you run if you go to work for a startup. If you have claim to a percent or two, if the company takes off, that’s huge. But way more likely the company probably flops or gets bought out for a modest amount. Are you friends with college tech nerds? Are they working on stuff that you think giving them $10k’s wouldn’t be throwing money away? Do your relatives know their relatives? Are you in an area where you’d come into contact with those people?
Additionally, I’m 32. Part of getting older is realizing you’ve made choices and decisions and they create opportunities and paths and take away other opportunities and paths, and learning how to cope with seeing that you should have done something differently. We’re all doing the best we can at the time. If any of our parents had bought $10k or 20k worth of Apple or Microsoft in the 90’s they’d be millionaires by now. If my parents had bought a different house on a lake in the same town for a slightly higher price 30 years ago, they’d be in significantly different financial position too. If only my grandfather had bought large amounts of land near where he lived Washington DC during the Great Depression! You made the best decisions at the time, don’t live life looking in the rear view mirror and second guessing yourself.
Looking at my situation, I could buy a flashy car that I like and would enjoy a lot or I could take that few hundred per month and invest it. What happens when I’m 60 and have an account with a big number in it? Then I buy the car I’d enjoy having and go on a lot of vacations, except I’ll be old. And I don’t expect suddenly when I’m older, my feelings will switch around and I’d suddenly start to enjoy spending money and seeing the number go down rather than saving it. And I’ve talked to my coworkers, a decade ago there was a person in the office where I work now was mid-50’s and came down with brain cancer and was rapidly gone. We have other coworkers who die right after retiring, or aren’t healthy enough to get much enjoyment. Think about that–you or me could spend our whole working lives saving money for retirement and then die in our 50’s or right after retiring and not being able to get any enjoyment from it. And it’s not just dying, but coming down with an illness or having a lot of pain. That isn’t a very enjoyable life.
And yet I’d rather save money and push that problem out of what to do with it. This is what I think about when I think about whether to get rid of my cheap, working, boring car and consider getting something fun.
I think autonomous vehicles will be a large source of growth in the coming decade. So which company do you think will do it first? Ford, GM, Chrysler, or Tesla? What if Apple or Google or Uber or Yahoo or some company you haven’t heard of right now swoops in and does it first? Surprise! You chose wrong. You could redeem yourself if you invested in a car company the tech company chooses to partner with because they know how to tech but not to make cars. Which car company would they partner with? Is it the one you chose?
Healthcare is big. It’s 17% of our economy. How do you invest in that for 10 years for now? What if the people start electing progressives and they completely rearrange the healthcare system and do something like eliminate the need for insurance companies or sharply reduce the profitability of pharmaceutical companies?
Don’t dwell on hindsighting yourself. If you look at any graph of a stock or anything it is sooooo obvious to spot the times to buy or sell and pick an optimum path through different investments but when you have to do it live you never know what is going to happen. If you had $10k now, do you think you’d invest it right now or do you think we’re on the cusp of a recession where if you hang on to that sum for part of a year or more, you can get a much larger return? What do you think, hmm? It’ll be so easy to be able to see what you should have done when you’re 32 in 2029 and pull up a graph of stocks and what they did in 2019-20.
I don’t want to be rude but stop it with the crypto. You know how gambling works because it exploits people who have the inclination in them to say ‘just one more for sure!’ even with games where the odds are actually pretty low to ever come out ahead. The fear of missing out is what compels people to get involved with it. People who say “If I had put $100 into bitcoin in 2011, I’d have $10 billion now!” like, no. It’s exploiting the people like you who want to look at the graph of Apple’s stock price and say “if I had bought in ’86…”. Also last week the Fed announced it’s working on developing a peer to peer live payment system–you know one that will use real actual money so actual real people will be able to use it. That is going to diminish the real world use crypto claims to have. Canada already has a system like this and I don’t know if European countries do as well.
Read this book, pup.
Basically monthly I buy the S&P 500 index. It’s a trade off between how much return I want and how much effort I want to put in. I doubt I’ll beat skyscrapers of people with PhD’s who are experts in this, know accounting, read boring reports and do all sorts of research, and actually talk directly to the people running companies so I buy the index and won’t ever be worse than the market as a whole–which the skyscrapers of people can’t consistently beat. I own some other company’s stocks separately, like a railroad, an industrial conglomerate, and Google and all three of those have done great. In that book I linked to, a section talks about how you can approximate the market performance with like owning any 25-30 random companies’ stocks–because he’s from a time before there were actual market indexes you can hold. Lately I’ve been starting to think that you can probably beat the market if you avoid the obvious loser or stagnant companies that are big enough to be part of the S&P 500. Like just buying and holding blue chips like McDonald’s or Coke or IBM or Disney for multiple years will probably beat the S&P 500. You won’t get rich enough to be able to retire at 35 that way, something like what Apple did, but you’ll come out pretty solid in the long run. At the same time, so like I own say $10k of Google. If the company doubles, now I have $20k. Big whoop. Now I can retire. If the company 10x, I’ll have $100k. That’s even better but I still can’t retire from that. The big companies can’t grow so much–how would Google or Apple double in size from where they are now? Apple would have to completely invent a whole new industry again (and it’d have to be like actual AI or something nutty like teleportation). And if any one knew what that was going to be, they’d have done it already. We have RFID tags now and have had them for over 10 years yet stores still would rather pay cashiers than have customers simply walk through an RFID detector.
The next stuff to come is going to be connected with faster internet and reducing labor. Drones and getting rid of human drivers? E-doctor video visits?