Investing in Opportunity

One of my ongoing hobbies has been playing investing in the stock market. I’ve done fairly well over the past couple of years, as I started when the market was at a low.

Now, that the market has made much of its worth back, its harder to just ‘throw’ money at something, and see a 15%+ return within a short period of time, but its still proving to be worth it for me.

One of the strategies I’ve been taking as of late, is to invest in companies that have been hit by disaster or bad public relations. Both of which, make investors nervous, thus, drives them to sell their stocks, resulting in lower share prices — all, in typically an overreaction to bad news, rather than the company’s underlining worth.

An example of this, is BP, and their oil spill over the summer. No matter where you turned, everyone was talking about it, and the two months it took to finally plug the hole. This, cause SUBSTANTIAL harm to BP’s reputation and stock value, plunging it from a 52 week high of $61/share, to a low of $27. I, as an investor, decide to buy shares and got in around $35 — here, the international spotlight has been on the company and created substantial bad will towards them, however, their underlining company still had physical assets, and was worth money. Sure, they’d take a hit in their recovery efforts, and in lawsuites, but it does not negate the fact they’re a profitable company. I’m up 28%.

Other examples I’ve been looking at, as of very recently, is the controversy around Nuclear energy, particular in light of the tragedy in Japan. While the entire situation is stunning to watch (as you never expect it to happen), it does not defeat the underlining reality of the benefits of nuclear energy. In turn, when you look at the stock market, companies that supply nuclear components, have taken a major hit too — here, I’ve also invested very recently, hoping to make money off the upswing as investor confidence is restored.

While investing like this is probably not everyone’s style, it seems to be working for me… I know there are a lot of ethical considerations around this, both pros (helping a company keep its worth, thus, reducing the chances of layoffs, ensuring their suppliers/distributors stay in business, etc), and cons (supporting ‘bad’ companies, or taking advantage of devastation), but I think the overall good is greater than the bad.

What is your take on this? Have you done it before? Would you do it?

The Next Stage

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I’ve reached an interesting part in my career/life, where within the next couple of weeks, I’ll officially be done school…forever. For the past several years, I’ve been finishing a degree on top of working full time, which has left little time for an actual “life”. But all that comes to a change, as I finish up my final exams this month.

So then what?

I’m not one who sits around doing nothing very well — I need to stay busy and mentally stimulated. While I have no real definitive plan for exactly what happens the day after I’m done, I have a few idea’s running around in my head to fill my time:

  • Refocus on my Career: I’ve done pretty well at the company I’m at now, and its got a lot potential. I’m going to re-invest some of my energy into pushing it to the next level.
  • Establish Professional Presence Online: For my career path, having an online portfolio or blog would help establish credibility as an ‘expert’ in the field. I’m going to start writing more, and see where it takes me.
  • Read 1 Business Book/month: In any field thats growing, reading/learning is imperative for professional and personal growth. Gone are the textbooks, and now is the time to read books on sales, marketing, life and business in general (which I find more interesting than fiction, any day)
  • Build Business Network: I’ve avoided networking (mostly because of time constraints… and that I’m always uneasy about it) for the past couple of years, but its time to start getting ‘out’ there at industry events, meetups, and online. I’m now brushing up on actual networking skills by readingNetworking for People who Hate Networking, by Devora Zack.
  • Get Active: With it already being Spring, theres lots to do outside. I’m going to get outside more, and enjoy the fresh air.

But before I dive head in to all of that, I’m going to just relax for a bit… maybe plan a trip, or just take some time off to enjoy my city. But a few weeks of doing nothing, may do the trick.

My friends who have graduated before me, have all told me the same thing — its a dramatic change, and fast, where there is no more school, and a whole lot of free time to fill. Its both exciting, and scary at the same time…

Career Path: Stay or Go?

I’ve been a bad blogger the past few weeks, as I’ve been slammed at work and school, thus making it hard to find the time to update. But I’m going to force myself (or at least try to force myself) to update at least once a week with something substantive… once I’m over this onslaught of work, I’ll be back in full force!

So speaking of work, I’ve come to realize that I need to start making a change. I’ve been with my company for just under 5 years, and its been pretty good up until now. As a whole, its a great company to work for, but ever since coming back in January, its been hard to motivate myself to come to work, and to push forward — I’ve reached that point, where I’m just kind of done.

Some people, like being at this point — where you show up, do your job, get paid well, and go home — for me, I like to be challenged, and I like to push forward, so I feel like I’m stalling out, and that it may be time to look at other options.

One of the avenues I want to explore, is doing contracting work. I’ve got a fair bit of experience in business management, that I think I could contract out to some small to medium sized companies — its largely what I do full time, but contract offers more flexibility, and a much wider variety of career paths.

While I need to wait for school to be done (to have the extra time to invest), I’m going to start building a business network of contacts, and potential clients in the mean time. My plan is to do the following:

  • Start making it known to friends that I’m looking to branch out
  • Attend at least one networking function/month
  • Read a book or two on networking, business development, and selling yourself
  • Start networking online too

So now, I’m debating between sticking it out at my current company, but working in the evenings to start a side business (something that will help me reach one of my goals, of making an additional $5k/year), and hopefully point me in the right direction for the future.

My long term goal, is to work for myself — I don’t think I’ll ever truly be happy, until I can run my own business, select my own clients, and earn each and every pay cheque.

The other alternative, which I’m going to keep on the table, is just keep my eyes open for a new opportunity that offers the challenge I’m looking for. I’m not hell bent on working for myself (just yet), and think I still have a lot of room to grow professionally at another company.

But, with all that said — I’m in a good enough spot right now,  where I have the safe job, that I don’t hate, so it may just be a good holding point, until I can ramp up the contracting side.

Has anyone ever done this, started your own business? How did it go, pros/cons?

Welcome to Twenty Something Money

I’ve been reading personal finance blogs for the last couple years, and realized it was finally time for me to start my own. It seems most of the blogs are about married people with kids, struggling to pay off their mortgages, where my blog is slightly different — I’m a twenty something guy, who rents, and has no kids…

But I’m at the point in my life, where I’ve got my college degree, have a good job, and am now struggling to set a solid financial plan for the future. This blog is to keep track of where I am financially, and where I want to be.

I’ll be posting a couple times a week about my personal finance, debt repayment, as well as how life affects it all. Follow along by bookmarking or subscribing to the feed above!

Where I’m at Today

  • Student loan of ~$10,000
  • Retirement Fund of ~$28,000 (in a variety of stocks)
  • Tax Free Savings Account of ~$4,000 (liquid savings account)
  • No credit card debt (always pay off on time)
  • Bank account of $400 on average

Income

  • Earn around $4,500 (before tax) / month from full time job
  • Earn about $75 / month from advertising on another website

Monthly Expenses

  • Rent for Studio Apartment: $975
  • Cable / Internet: $55
  • Cell Phone: $65
  • Misc Living (insurance, hydro): $50
  • Food, entertainment, savings, etc, take up the rest.

Where I Want to Be

  • Pay off my $10,000 student loan by the end of 2011
  • Save $10,000 by the end of 2011 (for retirement/down payment)
  • Buy a home in the next few years
  • Earn an additional $5,000/year from sources other than my full time job
  • Become financially independent and work for myself

My goal for 2011, is to get on track financially with a budget I can actually achieve, increase my savings (for a home down the road), and minimize spending on things I don’t really need.