When I woke up this morning and turned on CNN, the first thing that I heard was that I might soon be getting wet. The earthquake in American Samoa (8.3, so they say) was making big ripples. CNN wasn’t helpful, since they haven’t discovered Papua New Guinea yet, so I had to wait until I got to the office to find out that it was due to hit Madang at 10:41. My office is about a hundred metres from the ocean and about one metre above sea level. I decided that I was too busy to be bothered. Anyway, it’s now 11:28 and my feet are still dry, so, I guess I’ll stop thinking about it.
To transition into my subject of the day, here’s another sunrise as seen from our veranda. This boat may or may not be leaky. It was still afloat when it went around the corner into Dallman Passage:
I only wish it were the same for the next one. Here is an image of a very leaky boat. My only comfort being aboard this leaky boat is that I have a lot of company. I’d brave it alone, if only I could help others, but that’s not to be. It makes me think of the Minnow and the “three hour cruise”. What you are looking at here is the rapid and terrifying demise of our financial future:
The graph starts out in 2006. The red line is our Charles Schwab investments. The blue line is our PNG shares. The upward kinks are when we made deposits. The downward movements are all, except for one, the leaky boat syndrome. As you can see, our lifetime savings are now about half of what they were at their peak. If you start thinking of what might have been, it’s only a fraction of our projection. It’s interesting to note that PNG shares were still climbing even as world-wide investment values were imitating lead balloons. It’s dropped now, but holding steady. Cash under the mattress will do as well.
It’s obvious that my daily interest in recording share values evaporated when hitting the ticker on the web only produced additional depression. You get to the point where you just don’t want to know. You feel like shooting the messenger, and then maybe yourself.
The big drop on the right in the red line is when we pulled out all of our cash from the Schwab account to pay down the mortgage on our last remaining property. It’s in falling-down condition, but there is a renter there covering the mortgage payments. I want to get out of debt. In two or three years, except for incidental credit card charges, we won’t owe anybody a dime.
We’ve followed the “best advice” to the letter to try, on our pathetic income, to be as responsible as possible to provide for our future when we may no longer be able to earn (like now). What’s it done for us? Nada, zip, zilch!
When it was advised that our best bet was to buy houses, leveraging each one to get another, we did that. Well, we all know how well that went. We’ve sold them all but one now. We didn’t lose much, but we didn’t make anything either. When the best advice was “buy and hold”, we did that. How’s that working for you? I’m not so happy with it.
Our new financial plan is to ignore everybody’s advice. I’m through with the “Talk to Chuck” philosophy. I can look back now and see a dozen times when I went with the “best advice” against my gut instinct and got zapped for it in the end (pun intended). We’re smart enough to manage our own money. Right now, it’s going into cash and paying off debt. If we’re able, we’ll invest in the future in things that we control with our own hands and our own brains.
Rage spent. Tirade finished. How about some flowers?
Here’s a pretty little orchid only about the size of your thumb. There is a huge spray of about a hundred just down the steps of our veranda:
Hey, it’s only money.