Gemfinder Q4 2019 – Goals & Promises

The Gemfinder is a collection of articles, books, videos and podcasts that I find interesting. The content is published every quarter and it’s evergreen. This means that at any point in time you can go back and read all previous gemfinder articles without missing out on ‘recency’. 

If I’m certain about a single thing in this life is the new year resolutions.

It’s this time of the year people define new goals and reflect on what they achieved so far. I’m sure you’ve noticed some repeatable patterns: This year I will lose weight, I will start running, I will save £X,000, turn my idea into a business etc. etc.

It’s no wonder gyms make most of their profits in January. It’s also no surprise that gyms gain the most out of people who pay for a year and never visit past February. I’m guilty too. Why is that, though?

It’s because people are so good at defining goals but fail miserably to support those goals with systems. If this rings a bell, it’s the gist of the excellent book Atomic Habits. I listened to it recently.

Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results.

The idea is really simple. Most of the goals fail because we either achieve them or not. It’s a binary result. Even if we achieve a goal, say lose 10kg in 3 months, we won’t carry on being on this diet and on a healthy lifestyle. This only makes us regain weight quicker than we lost it.

Coming to personal finance, the idea that we want to save £10,000 by summertime is just a goal. But to achieve it, we need to build a mechanism that makes this easy for us. A system. For example, we could set up a standing order the day we’re paid to automatically transfer money to our ISA or savings account. This way, if we focus on the system, the goal will take care of itself.

To make things even better, we will be keeping the system for a long time, instead of asking “What’s next” after achieving (or failing) our goal.

The key to building systems is to make it as easy as possible to do so. We will invest prudently if there’s already a system in place to do that for us. Automatic transfer into a savings account -> automatic ISA top-up -> automatic investing into pre-selected funds.

Leave the lump sum up to me one month and I may invest in Value funds because growth stocks have greatly outperformed value the past 10 years. In fact, I just did that.

Don’t get me wrong, having goals is great. But building systems is the real deal.

Foxy Monkey January 2020 Meetup

Our little gathering is on Thursday, the 23rd of January. Judging from the last one, it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Please come along, I’d like to meet as many of you as possible and have some meaningful conversations! You’ll find me in this cosy pub.

Where: The Libertine Pub, 125 Great Suffolk St, London SE1 1PQ
When: 18:00 – 21:00, 23rd of January

Please don’t hesitate! Let’s have a drink, share some helpful tips and have meaningful conversations around personal finance, investing, career, etc.


Early retirement extreme on trying out different things after becoming FI. I read about him 4-5 years ago but considered it too extreme for my tastes. But the search for meaning is true and is one of the problems more money cannot easily solve.
10 years in FIRE from a very interesting guy (Get Rich Slowly, ERE) – 21 mins

12 nice lessons to FIRE enthusiasts from a guy who’s been there before. I think once you approach the 5-year to FIRE final stretch, you need to be thinking of next steps. Not only it’s a great way to motivate you, but it’s actually necessary to find happiness on the other side of the grass.
10 years of FIRE in-progress (Retirement Investing Today) – 8 mins

Although the average bear market lasts for 16 months, the time til our portfolio gets back to the same level is approximately 5 years. However, inflation is still chugging along so in real terms, we only “break-even” in 7 years! Scary if you thinking of an aggressive withdrawal rate (4% or more).
Who’s afraid of a Bear Market? (ERN) – 9 mins

I have been reading this guy for 4 years now. Can’t believe he has donated $300,000 which he made from his blog after leaving his corporate job. The post explains a bit of his journey together with advice on how to donate to charity.
Let the roaring 2020s begin (MMM) – 10 mins

And my own article I wrote a few months back. It’s both exciting and scary that FI is now closer than ever.
FI getting real now? (Foxy Monkey) – 10 mins


If someone tells you they predict the stock market will return the average 10%, send them this picture. Vanguard shows that only 6 out of 93 years the S&P returns fell within 2% of the average. Goes to show that returns are …pretty random.

s&p returns plus minus 2 percentage points

And more than 60% of the double-digit corrections in the stock market happen outside recessions. So don’t wait for one to invest your cash in the sidelines:
We don’t need a recession for a reset in the stock market (A wealth of common sense) – 3 mins

AQR Chasing your own tail (risk): A nice paper showing how to build a more resilient portfolio. No surprises here, add defensive stocks, trend-following and just own a smaller equity percentage. Avoid options (insurance) due to cost.
Chasing your Own Tail Risk Revisited (click Download the paper – AQR) – 20 mins

[Geeky] How the equity risk premium and credit risk premium tell us a story about future returns. In short, the US is priced very unattractively compared to its bonds, whereas Europe, Japan and the UK have a much higher potential.
The way the world should work (Verdad) – 5 mins

The takeaway: Don’t fear to buy stock (indices) when they close at all-time highs. A new high shouldn’t be your only reason for buying stocks, but it’s not in and of itself a reason to shy away.
Buying global stocks at an all-time high (Allocate Smartly) – 3 mins

Morningstar series invited Rob from Research affiliates. He is describing factors and betting big on value. Buying the winners won’t make you rich. Buying the losers is the strategy with the most upside potential.
Don’t sleep on value investing (Morningstar Podcast series) – 53 mins audio

I really like hearing from big names in the investing space. Ray Dalio is managing billions of dollars, yet comes up with a new way of thinking lately. The TL;DR version: Wealth inequality is growing, equities have gone mad and it’s time to buy gold.
The world has gone mad and the system is broken (Ray Dalio) – 5 mins

And Cullen’s response explaining why the world is not really broken. The most important point is this: When capitalists allow inequality to grow to a point where there are populist uprisings then the capitalists have failed. It is like the big stack in a poker game not realizing that, in order for the game to continue, she can’t take all of the chips. The other players need to have some chips to keep playing the game.
Has the World gone mad (PragCap) – 7 mins

Capitalism coca cola

I found this super useful too.
My view on late-stage capitalism (PragCap) – 4 mins

I wrote a similar post back then. It’s better to invest now in a conservative portfolio than to average in.
The cost of waiting (Of Dollars and Data) – 5 mins

You all know I’m bullish on China. “With a decreased weight in financials and increased weight in growth sectors such as information technology and healthcare, we believe the MSCI China A Index is a more holistic representation of the mainland China market than the CSI 300 Index.”
MSCI China A Index vs CSI 300 (KraneShares) – 3 mins


Both fascinating and educational video: Norway won the lottery and invested the money instead of buying Lambos. Now it’s smooth sailing on a very social system. Contrary to the common belief, I was also surprised to learn that Norway runs a capitalistic system (with a big tilt towards socialism).

A better title for this article would be “A short history of crypto”. Also, a reminder that crypto is not over yet.
Cryptocurrency will not die (GQ) – 25 mins LONG!

And if crypto made you rich, here’s How to spend money (Big Think) – 10 mins.

This amazing article explains the most important factors shaping the world. I always read stuff from Morgan Housel. He’s a deep thinker. Demographics, inequality, and information access will have a huge impact on the coming decades.
Three Big Things: The most important factors shaping the world (Collab Fund) – 19 mins

Buffets first TV appearance. It’s amazing he speaks the same principles as he does today (albeit at a faster pace!)

Buffet’s first TV appearance

I wanna close with this tweet from BudgetsAreSexy. Take care! I hope you all smash your goals systems in 2020.

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2 thoughts on “Gemfinder Q4 2019 – Goals & Promises”

  1. Hi Michael. I can come to the meet up this time, yay, I’ve taken the afternoon off of work so I can get there in time. :-). I took a look at Primestox and signed up, there doesn’t seem to be any investments available. They’re all showing as fully repaid. Is it still up and running?

    • That’s an honour, Sharon! Looking forward to meeting you then.

      Primestox are very quiet these days. I haven’t seen a deal in months which is a shame as they’ve always repaid me on time. I’ve tried to reach out on Twitter but no luck. Who knows.


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Hi! I’m Michael and I love writing about different ways to earn, save and invest our money. Coffee addict :)

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