Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Dilbert's Rules for Investing
October 15, 2006 7:05 PM   Subscribe

Everything you need to know about investing in 129 words.
posted by alms (58 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
8. Take whatever money is left over and invest 70% in a stock index fund and 30% in a bond fund through any discount broker and never touch it until retirement

That's, erm, unconventional.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:10 PM on October 15, 2006


everything i need to know about it in 2 words - i'm broke
posted by pyramid termite at 7:11 PM on October 15, 2006


Other than number 8, I agree. Number 8 isn't so bad either but you could probably do better with some effort.
posted by caddis at 7:12 PM on October 15, 2006


But most people probably don't do better, so it's a good one sentence guide.
posted by Justinian at 7:18 PM on October 15, 2006


As Kwantsar and caddis mention, allocating 30% of your portfolio to bond funds is suboptimal. Anyway, is this somehow profound advice?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:24 PM on October 15, 2006


Well, you could read A Random Walk Down Wall Street to get the same info, but it's a bit wordier.
posted by smackfu at 7:26 PM on October 15, 2006


Why is it suboptimal, monju? I would split my 70% of equities between a couple different type of index funds, but the split seems fine for a younger person.
posted by mullacc at 7:28 PM on October 15, 2006


of course this all assumes that you actually have money to do all of this
posted by edgeways at 7:31 PM on October 15, 2006


1. Make a will

Right from the beginning he starts with the threats.
posted by hal9k at 7:33 PM on October 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


30% in bonds is too high for a young person, too old for somebody near retirement. You could do a lot worse, though.

Overall it's pretty good advice and beats most watercooler knowledge up and down. I give it a B+.
posted by Opposite George at 7:39 PM on October 15, 2006


Er, too low for somebody near retirement.
posted by Opposite George at 7:39 PM on October 15, 2006


I would split my 70% of equities between a couple different type of index funds, but the split seems fine for a younger person.

Sorry, I didn't write that very well. Second try: I'd split my equity portion between several different types of index funds, but the 70/30 equities/fixed income split seems fine for a younger person.
posted by mullacc at 7:41 PM on October 15, 2006


I've been investing my money in hookers. The payoffs have been short-lived but spectacular.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:52 PM on October 15, 2006 [2 favorites]


The advice I've heard and am following is to invest in high risk (stocks) and low risk (bonds) in a proportion correlated to your age. To elaborate, a 26 year old (like me) should invest 26% in low risk and 75% in high risk. A 40 year old should be 40% low and 60% high. The closer you get to retirement, the more secure you should want your investments to be in case of a big stock market calamity.

Maybe a bit too conservative for some, but food for thought, and a decent way to stay safe without sacrificing THAT much potential income - a sacrifice some are willing to make.
posted by evadery at 7:59 PM on October 15, 2006


The extra 1% on my 26% and 75% strategy above should go to the high risk hooker fund mentioned by Astro Zombie.
posted by evadery at 8:00 PM on October 15, 2006


I think I'm going to follow Astro Zombie's advice. He sounds reliable.
posted by snwod at 8:01 PM on October 15, 2006


I don't know finances but I know what I like.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:04 PM on October 15, 2006


10. Society collapses. The computer holding your bank accounts and stocks goes away. You wish you spent the money on guns and pot.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:07 PM on October 15, 2006


'Dilbert' deserves the economics Nobel
posted by furtive at 8:19 PM on October 15, 2006


In my case, I made every mistake I could.

In my twenties I blew every bit of money I had, saved nothing. When I was given money I spent on booze, drugs, and gold-digger girlfriends. What money I didn't have, I took off of credit cards, though I never let it get too far ahead of me.

Got married at thirty to my wife who also had a lot of debt. She was luckily given an inheritance from a rich aunt, and that was the catalyst to fixing things. We're less than a year from being entirely debt-free. We own 5 acres of land (completely paid for). Our credit rating is quite good. We stayed out of the batshit insane Vancouver real estate market and concentrated on paying off debt.

However, the one thing we did very stupidly was taking out a loan to add to our retirement savings plan. While we have $15500 now in retirement savings, we're still paying more on that debt than we're making in interest on it. DON'T DO THIS.

If all goes well, a year from now we'll be in amazing shape.
posted by Kickstart70 at 8:20 PM on October 15, 2006


> 6. Buy a house if you want to live in a house and can afford it

John Chow makes a good point in this post: http://www.johnchow.com/index.php/buying-vs-renting/ that it doesn't always make sense to buy a house.
posted by age at 8:21 PM on October 15, 2006


This guy's obsession with index funds is a little annoying. How'd those index funds do for you in 2000?
posted by delmoi at 8:27 PM on October 15, 2006


delmoi, having read everything of his (and yeah, this list is about four years old, at best) I've seen his passion for index funds as well, but that's because, at least with his data, index funds far outperform any other similar mutual funds. Plus, he's talking about long term investment, and as far as that goes, it's pretty prudent.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:39 PM on October 15, 2006


However, the one thing we did very stupidly was taking out a loan to add to our retirement savings plan.
That baffles me. (I'm probably preaching to the choir, admittedly)... I've always read that paying off debt will almost always, always give you a higher yield than most investment.

Was there something unique that made this seem like a steal at the time..?
posted by verb at 8:42 PM on October 15, 2006


verb: Foolishness, mainly, but also some bad luck.

The way I was convinced was that the amount I added to my RRSP (I'm in Canada, so tax laws are different) was removed from my taxable income. That meant, at the end of the tax year, I received a multi-thousand dollar refund. The way I had it worked out was that I'd take that refund and immediately apply it to the debt. That more than offset the interest I was being charged.

However, the refund arrived, and so did emergencies. So I had to spend the money that was earmarked and so I continue to pay off this stupid debt. The further foolishness is that that tax I got paid back will be charged to me when I withdraw the money from my retirement savings.

I'm telling this to everyone who considers this: never go into debt to invest: even for your retirement investments.
posted by Kickstart70 at 8:50 PM on October 15, 2006


How'd those index funds do for you in 2000?

Yeah, you should only pick investments that never have bad years.
posted by smackfu at 8:50 PM on October 15, 2006


This guy's obsession with index funds is a little annoying. How'd those index funds do for you in 2000?

How did your portfolio do?
posted by knave at 8:52 PM on October 15, 2006


That advice is good for suckers. If you never bet big you will never win big. If you're under thirty you should beg, borrow and/or steal as much capital as you can to build the foundation you'll need for creating real wealth in your middle-age. Instead of saving up for your Glorious and Comfortable Retirement, invest now as much as you can in education, training, and travel.

On a side note, it's remarkable that America's lack of a safety net is creating an army of 25 year old retirees. The sort of intense conservatism found in the mindset that produced the above advice suggests that the conservative moment is still very much yet to arrive. Nobody should doubt how far Americans are willing to go to protect their IRAs.
posted by nixerman at 8:54 PM on October 15, 2006


That advice is good for suckers. If you never bet big you will never win big.

Have you seen what actual suckers invest in? I think you might have some links to the stocks in your e-mail account. (Check all the folders.)
posted by smackfu at 8:55 PM on October 15, 2006


Buy low, sell while high!
posted by papakwanz at 9:03 PM on October 15, 2006


Or... do what I did:

Get a high paying job right out of college, then decide to go back to grad school for a career with a limited number of good jobs and a relatively low income. Blow all your savings, rack up tens of thousands of credit card and student loan debt.

And the hookers.
posted by papakwanz at 9:06 PM on October 15, 2006


These things are always putting down credit cards, but they've done wonders for me. Did you know that if you use your credit card at a store, they give you stuff without you having to pay for it? Sure, they only work for about a month, but while they last - yowza!

Most hookers don't accept them, though.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:20 PM on October 15, 2006


While Astro Zombie goes with the free-wheeling 100% hookers investment, I prefer the more conservative 60% hookers, 40% blow fund.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:31 PM on October 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


This would be good advice if you could retroactively invest money 20 years ago. Buy stocks and houses in the 1990s, you can't go wrong. I wonder what the Simple & Proven Rules for Financial Reward were in 1925.

It seems to me that the entirety of "conventional wisdom" is structured around giving the baby boomers a comfortable retirement. I think they're setting themselves up for a spectacular disaster, and will drag the rest of us down with them. But I'm a bit of a pessimist.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 9:49 PM on October 15, 2006


I don't think the article was pitching housing at all, that's a strange reaction.

As far as stocks go, investing in index funds is a proven long term strategy for earning 8 to 11% ROI.
posted by knave at 9:51 PM on October 15, 2006


How did your portfolio do?

Poor people don't have portfolios. But I would have gotten out of the dot com mania in 1999 if I had any investments. Of course, a lot of solid companies got burned at the same time.

But look index funds made sense in the 1990s, when every thing was going up, but just a few weeks ago the dow hit a record. That means for six years since the crash, you would not have made a single penny in a DOW index fund. The NYSE and NASDAQ are still down from their bubble heights (I think).

Sometimes the market goes up, sometimes it goes down. Mostly it goes up, but not during this decade. An index fund would have been a total waste for the past six years. If you want to make money, pay attention to the world around you.

I'm telling this to everyone who considers this: never go into debt to invest: even for your retirement investments.

Unless you want to start a business...

While Astro Zombie goes with the free-wheeling 100% hookers investment, I prefer the more conservative 60% hookers, 40% blow fund.

Look, you cannot overlook the magic mushroom market
posted by delmoi at 9:56 PM on October 15, 2006


It seems to me that the entirety of "conventional wisdom" is structured around giving the baby boomers a comfortable retirement.

Fucking boomers. They think the world revolves around them.

Well when the revolution comes, they'll be too damn old to fight!
posted by delmoi at 9:58 PM on October 15, 2006


An index fund would have been a total waste for the past six years.

Remember that this is working on a scale of decades. A falling stock market tends to make people panic and most people will make bad decisions.

If you got into your index fund in 1996, sure, you would have seen it skyrocket and then crash and you'd feel like it was working and then it wasn't. But which is the anomaly -- the part where it went up seemingly without limit for a few years, or the part where it corrects?

Look at your index fund starting in 1976, or even 1966, and then you'll have the yardstick to measure this strategy's utility.
posted by dhartung at 10:22 PM on October 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


1. Don't have children.
posted by Joeforking at 10:25 PM on October 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


ftw
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 10:27 PM on October 15, 2006


I'm telling this to everyone who considers this: never go into debt to invest: even for your retirement investments.

The idea is not to go into debt if you cannot guarantee that your rate of return exceeds your debt payment. It's not just about getting money to invest. Plus you can deduct the interest on the investment loan. As in anything, there are no absolutes, and all methods should be considered.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 10:35 PM on October 15, 2006


Look at your index fund starting in 1976, or even 1966, and then you'll have the yardstick to measure this strategy's utility.

So ten years isn't enough time, but twenty or thirty years is. You can choose an arbitrary time-scale to show index funds doing well and index funds doing terribly -- fact is, you can't predict the future based on the results of the past. That said, if I didn't want to do any active thinking or investing, an index fund might be a fair and conservative bet. But you also can't predict your time-scale either, and whether or not you really can wait it out.

As a side note, anyone with any money from investing usually made it through large amounts of capital and its cousin leverage, so to talk about not borrowing to invest is kind of wacky, but for the average Joe Blow investor its probably beyond their scope and interest.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 10:44 PM on October 15, 2006


6 years is not long term, nor is a decade. I'm talking about investing over a period of 20-40 years. In this kind of range, you will benefit from index funds. Anyone my age (20s) at the time of the .com crash should've been happy to see the market falling. A falling market means opportunities to buy low. The only time you want the market high is when it's time to cash out. For me, the lower the markets go, the better -- for now.
posted by knave at 10:48 PM on October 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


NORM MACDONALD

Oprah Winfrey's longtime boyfriend, Stedman Graham, has written a new book called, "You Can Make It Happen: A Nine-Step Plan for Success." Step Number One? Become Oprah Winfrey's boyfriend. ... [applause] Then the other eight are just hang around...
posted by RavinDave at 10:50 PM on October 15, 2006


Is there a british version of this advice?? wtf is IRA except a paramilitary organisation?
posted by leibniz at 2:05 AM on October 16, 2006


The following is my understanding of the US terminology: For US readers, UK tax payers can now pay up to 100% of their taxable income into a pension fund, from their pre-tax earnings, i.e. we can entirely avoid income tax. Of course we still have to find something to live off ...
posted by daveg at 3:28 AM on October 16, 2006


I spend all my money on children born out of wedlock. I might lose the financial game but will win the evolutionary game and that is all that matters.
posted by I Foody at 3:51 AM on October 16, 2006


I'd much rather invest in the stock market, than in 129 words... unless those 129 words are going to grow into, say, 10000 words within 6 months.
posted by Chunder at 4:39 AM on October 16, 2006


He left off one of his most rewarding principles:

10. Sell your email subscriber list to a variety of spammers.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:58 AM on October 16, 2006


He left off one of his most rewarding principles

Many of Adam's fans fail to realize that his Mary Sue is 70% Dogbert, 30% Catbert, and 0% Dilbert.
posted by moonbiter at 5:35 AM on October 16, 2006


1. Get a bank account.

2. Get rid of your credit cards.

3. Don't spend so much on beer if you have a family to support.

4. Keep some money under the mattress, in case the bank fails.

5. Put your change in a jar or something.

6. If you really need a cheap place to live, maybe someone you know would let you set up a tent in their back yard.

7. Put six dollars in your pocket, then forget it's there.

8. Try not to lose too much in your weekly poker game.

9. If any of this confuses you, or you have something special going on (drug addiction, eviction, rodent infestations), maybe you can borrow a few bucks from your wealthy relatives.
posted by sfenders at 5:45 AM on October 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that the entirety of "conventional wisdom" is structured around giving the baby boomers a comfortable retirement. I think they're setting themselves up for a spectacular disaster, and will drag the rest of us down with them.

OK, who spilled the beans? Was it you, quonsar? Dammit, that was supposed to be a surprise!

Oh, and thanks for the post, alms. (What percentage should be invested in alms, by the way?)
posted by languagehat at 5:49 AM on October 16, 2006


People with lots of money, (the super rich, big institutional investors, etc.) pay people to invest their money in hedge funds, which generally make very short term investments. In fact most of the money that goes into wall street is only there for the short term.

This plan is really only for people without enough money to take advantage of more exotic investment vehicles.
posted by afu at 7:17 AM on October 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


Coffee House Investor.

Also, once you have a million or more, establish a relationship with a high-end lawyer, ask him about private investment opportunities, and invest in private companies and demand a board seat. You'll get monthly full-disclosures of finances, VIP treatment from the employees, the ability to replace key personal, etc.. can't do that with index funds.
posted by stbalbach at 7:48 AM on October 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


Look, you cannot overlook the magic mushroom market

Have you people never played Dopewars? You start out buying cheap weed when the freighter dusts the Coast Guard (or has when the Marrakesh Express arrives), quadruple your money with a good acid score, and then finish out the month making big-time coke and heroin deals when addicts are paying outrageous prices.

That's assuming Officer Hardass doesn't get you.
posted by COBRA! at 8:15 AM on October 16, 2006


delmoi : Well when the revolution comes, they'll be too damn old to fight!

You hold 'em down and I'll punch 'em!!!
posted by contessa at 8:31 AM on October 16, 2006


34 years old, married, no kids yet but plan on one, and likely to be stuck at step 2 for the rest of my life.

Step 4 is there though. I figure when I retire at age 94, I'll have enough to buy a couple tanks of gas.
posted by Foosnark at 9:15 AM on October 16, 2006


stbalbach: Did you intend your link to Coffeehouse Investor to have anything to do with your second paragraph? So far, I don't see anything on that website about private investments and a whole lot of advice suggesting index funds.
posted by mullacc at 10:23 AM on October 16, 2006


« Older Japanese Ant Database Group....  |  210 Eastern European Matchbox ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments