Indecisive bean

I am struggling to set investment goals. When it comes to making such life changing decisions, I am the embodiment of the words unsure and doubtful.

I used Vanguard‘s online template as a starting point to learn how to set clear, precise and realistic investment plans. The site has a sample layout of well-defined investment goals that I used as a guide to set up my own plans and strategies.

Writing a plan was harder than I anticipated. I had to ask myself the real reasons for my interest investing. It became something akin to soul-searching because I had to dig deep inside me in order to put everything on paper (word document, I mean).

My goals, compared to that thought-out template, seem too elaborate and unattainable. I have numerous goals that I am using as a set up for the type of investments I want to make. Moreover, each goal has an action plan set to achieve it. My document is more that 3 pages long and it gets longer every time I revisit it. It seems incomplete every time I read it. Will I ever finalize it?

There is a lot of emphasis on the importance of setting clear goals that you can follow for you to be more successful with everything in life. I wonder, however, if plans should be more dynamic to allow for growth. Of course, I may be saying this because I want to justify changing my plans all the time.

I wish I could talk to someone who has experience in the business of investing. Preferably someone with more than 30 years of experience. A person who has survived all the market cycles without losing too much. I could buy a book and learn from its author, but it is different from having a face to face conversation.


Bothered by long periods of inactivity

I have set a hurdle to go through three Introduction to Investment courses before I begin investing. Moreover, I am simultaneously researching companies that I might start investing in once these specific classes are over. I have to refer to Investopedia a lot for the latter activity.

As I research companies, I have bouts of excitement when I come across a company I like. There is a voice in my head that nudges me to invest in Company X before I know much about it. I am struggling with this irrational impulse to purchase stock in Company X immediately.

I am determined not to make an investment without knowing the company I am investing in as well as its policies and missions. As one can tell, I am studying Fundamental Analysis. I am driven to know what I am investing in and to know if I am making the right choice for myself.

I fear being too excited and thoughtless enough to actually purchase a stock. I don’t want to crash and burn before I even start. I want to learn as much as I can to take, what the gurus call, a “calculated risk”.

I have come up with a satisfying way to deal with my need for activity in my investment account. When the Australian markets close on a Friday, I order the shares of Company X and this temporarily curbs my urges. On Sunday night, I retract my order and by that time, I have calmed down. I have no idea if my actions will have any long-term consequences. For all I know, I may be causing the computers to overheat. As usual, every time I write an article, I come up with a new question.

I am hoping the reader might have a better way to resist the temptation of buying stock impulsively.

Am I even allowed to invest here?

One of the most overwhelming things about investing is not knowing where to start. Before taking a free online personal finance course, I watched videos online hoping to find someone like me, a “noob”.  I was looking for someone who had documented their experiences with investing from the beginning. Most of the videos I came across were discouraging. They were about “how I got $100,000 in one month”. If it was not those, I came across people who already had money trying to advise me, who has less than a thousand dollars in my bank account, on how I can make money. Their recollection of that overwhelming feeling of starting out in the financial markets is distorted. They end up saying things like, “investing through etfs is the best thing to do”, which does not seem to provide a leeway for growth or encourage a little risk taking for starters. I gave up after 15 minutes.

Let me get to the point. I am from Botswana and I live in Australia under a student visa. The first question I asked myself is, “Am I even allowed to invest here?”. I searched everything I could about a non-citizen investing in Australia and came across articles about “resident aliens” and articles which applied mostly to people in the US. I was searching specifically for a person who had invested in Australia as a resident. I ended up on page 25 of google, which was a first for me.  I found nothing.

After all those depressing articles, I decided that I was going to invest through my bank. I knew it was not ideal because they have higher brokerage rates as compared to online platforms, however, for someone like me, it is a starting point. It is only option as I assess better platforms to use for investing.

Part of me wonders what will happen to my assets when I leave Australia. As you can see, I have not taken the time to ask the employees at my bank how my future will be mapped out. Writing this article actually reminded me the importance of knowing the risks I might face.

As the reader can tell, I am confused. I feel like I am walking blindly into an unknown territory. That I am David facing Goliath with no sling or rock in hand. That I have to find a way to manoeuvre around him and deal with him as an ever present threat. That I have to be okay with not knowing a lot in order to navigate this world. That I may never master anything in the end. I have to learn how to be okay with being uncomfortable about this fact.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton


The journey begins

I want to preface this by saying, I am not an economics student, or a business student, or a student of anything related to finance. I study engineering. The fact that I have the desire to venture into something I know nothing about is terrifying.

I was always one of those people that always said that I was going to start investing without actually taking the initiative to learn or do anything. For some reason, saying it made me feel better about the fact that I had this big dream in my head that I was going to try my luck (yes, luck) and see where this plan takes me. Saying “I want to invest”, made me feel like less of a failure.

This year, I snapped out of my self-induced limbo and decided that I was going to do something to make it happen. The first thing I chose to do was to keep it to myself- well, not anymore seeing as I am posting it online- and just get started. I did the most obvious thing and decided to take a personal finance course which taught me about the time value of money, taking risks, thinking about retirement etc.

Taking this course was an eye-opener for me. I know nothing about taxes (obviously), the seriousness of inflation, how to calculate risk (can it really be calculated?) etc. I know nothing. This blog is meant to document my journey as I stumble through the world of finance.