The Case of the Missing $20,000

A few years back, I did a wonderful trade with a mining stock and made around 300% gain, around $20,000 USD, in less than a week.  I’d like to believe that I’m a genius day trader but really, I think I was just lucky that one time.  Unlike what they do in LOM which is precise and educated guesses, I just had a gut feel about that stock and I traded it without looking at the chart.

Anyway, I’m not writing about how to win at mining stocks.  This is about something else and that’s just the introduction.

easy moneyMy husband, my two kids and I – we rented an apartment in the central business district that time.  We decided to live there so that we could just walk to our place of work.  It was practical, convenient and saved us on time and transportation costs.  The money we saved on transport, we instead allocated for the higher rent. At least, we saved on travel time – and we converted that to time which we could spend as a family.

Normally, we were prudent with our finances, trying to be as wise spenders as we could be.  Looking back, however, I admit, making that $20K was bad for me.  I felt  “rich” when I made that money so quickly.  And I was making more every day.  Smaller gains, but almost every day I was winning at the game!  It was a bull market that time.  It felt good to be a day trader!  I think if I threw a dart at a list of stocks pinned on our office wall and bought that stock where the dart landed, it would still have been a winner.  I couldn’t believe how fast the money came.

Being the “prudent” woman that I was, I deposited my $20,000 check into our joint savings account.  But here was the problem, the apartment we rented was right across the street from the most fabulous shopping destination in the city.  All those restaurants to choose from!  All those spas and salons! And so many shoes!

Since I thought I had a lot of money, a “few” fancy dinners out wouldn’t hurt, I said to myself. And of course,missiny money working so hard, I surely deserved to get the best hair keratin treatments money can buy, right?   And let’s not forget, nice Italian shoes and bags are an “investment.”

This went on for a few months.  All that time, I was thinking I “kept” my $20,000 gain safely in our savings account, while also saving up on my regular income.  I was so sure I had money that I never bothered to check.  My husband, he kept paying my credit card, getting the money from the bank.  But I think he was also preoccupied with his work that time, so he didn’t bother to do a cash flow analysis either.

To this day, it remains a mystery were that $20,000 went.  When we finally decided to take stock of our assets, my $20K was gone.  Actually, I don’t know where my other earnings went as well during that bull market.

Ever since my $20K went “missing” I realized that having the “easy money”, working as a day trader distorted my thinking.  It made me so ecstatic, like someone drunk in a party that I didn’t know I was actually already burning through all the money I earned.  My thinking was, “I deserve this. What’s the use of earning money if you don’t enjoy a little of it?”  But the “little” spending here and there was actually already a lot.    I was celebrating the fact that I earned the money, but in celebrating, I used all of it up.

Fast forward to today, it’s been a horrible year for stocks.  I still make commissions but I haven’t traded for a while.  I’ve won some, lost some.  Ironically, I have been able to save some money from the relatively smaller amounts I’ve earned.

Not feeling the easy money flowing that easily anymore, we’ve made a few adjustments for our family.  We moved to another place farther out from the city, where our rent plus transportation costs are much lower. Amazingly, the living space is even bigger and the air less polluted.  I also made sure this time that our house is NOT going to be across from a mall!  In this part of town, the cost of food and utilities is also lower.  I cook most of our meals at home now. My sons are healthier and not getting so sick anymore because of it.   And the last time I went to the salon was 5 months ago.  Fortunately, my Italian shoes and bags are still fabulous (I guess they really are a good investment). Overall, our lifestyle has actually improved. Just not much of the commercialism that was there before.

Today, I just consider that missing $20K as cost of training.  I learned the lesson that you can lose your money just as fast as you earn it if you don’t get a grip of your expenses.

2016 Outlook

2015 was a rollercoaster ride for investors.  But what awaits us in 2016?  Calmer seas or even more raging storms?

As the year comes to an end, it’s but prudent and wise for any investor to take stock of his portfolio.

Fund managers may have different motives compared to the individual investor. Apart from rebalancing their portfolios to properly position and adopt to current market conditions, fund managers are also concerned about how fund investors are going to review their performance.  Hence, we see a bit of window dressing at year-end to make fund portfolios look prettier than they really are.  The fund manager would sell his lackluster investments and acquire some really brilliant ones right near the close of the year.  That way, when the fund investors look at their fund’s stock position report, the snapshot will show a portfolio with holdings in the best performing stocks.  “What a great fund manager we have!  He picked all the winners!”

Individually however, an investor can afford to be more realistic and practical in rebalancing his personal portfolio.  He doesn’t necessarily have to sell all his losers if he has the conviction that a stock that looks awful as of year-end is going to be a real winner soon.

The key to making intelligent decisions and properly positioning your investments, like people at LOM do, is by having a relatively realistic outlook for the coming year.  What trends in 2015 will have a significant effect on investments in 2016?  Which sectors are the big money going to flow into?  Which sectors are in trouble? What trends are expected to reverse? What are the threats being faced – economic, financial and geopolitical?

By considering the answers to such questions, an investor can have a realistic outlook for 2016 and onward.  He will be making better informed decisions with his investments.

This article lays out an investment outlook for 2016 to help you plan your investment moves.

economic outlook 2016 | LOM

  1. Economic outlook by geographic location. Big funds are looking at better growth prospects in Europe and Japan. Asia similarly has the best growth potential among emerging markets, whereas the UK as well as the BRICS are still expected to decline in their economies.  Meanwhile, the US, is seen to remain a big threat to the stability of the global economy, particularly with its shaky bond market.  Canada also faces further economic weakening as oil prices are forecast to continue in their decline.


  1. Outlook by industry. Big money is looking more favorably towards the banking and consumer goods sector.  Meanwhile they are bearish on oil, commodities/natural resource, as well as on emerging markets as a group.


  1. Threats to the economy.


  1. Refugee crisis in Europe. This issue currently impacts Germany the most.  Not only does the crisis put a strain on the financial and economic resources of the country, it also has caused a lot of dissatisfaction with the country’s leadership and its immigration policies. Recently, Europe already temporarily suspended its Schengen open borders to address security concerns.  The common euro currency comes hand in hand with open borders – as border policy affects the ease of trade between EU members.  Should the refugee crisis continue, investors must be on the lookout for how Europe responds in terms of its foreign, immigration, trade and financial / economic policies.


  1. Bond market crisis. Just as 2015 was about to end, the US junk bond market has begun to unravel.  This goes in tandem with the continuing decline in oil prices.  The oil and energy sector has been a primary borrower and source of junk bonds.  As these highly indebted oil and energy companies post losses and default on their obligations, we can see more funds heavily invested in junk bonds start getting into trouble.


Sovereign debt crisis. The US and EU have been on a quantitative easing binge over the past few years to stimulate their economies.  However, government deficits and national debts have also significantly grown.   How these countries handle or fail to handle their liabilities, as the debt reaches critical levels, will play a major impact in 2016.

Analysts always have their forecasts and predictions of GDP growth, interest rates, foreign currency strength or weakness, so on and so forth. The caveat is a lot of them also get it wrong.  This is why an investor must be constantly monitoring his investments to watch out for any deviations from the expected.  Never try to buck the trend.  Go with the flow of big money.  At the same time, an investor also needs to be cautions of simply accepting consensus opinions.  Contrarian investing can profit sometimes because the “talking heads”still get it wrong.  Most of the time, they fail to foresee crisis situations.  Hence it is critical to be alert to trends and to be hedged for any unforeseen turns in the market this coming year.