23 August 2020

Saying "No" for Fun and Profit

One of the things I never expected to learn from being in business is just how profitable it can be, and how good it feels, to tell people, "no." 

I just told a client that. They were requesting something that I can do, but that is such a small part of my business that I'm actively entertaining the idea of axing the offering all together. On top of that, their service need is huge in terms of the physical area of the job site, a definite outlier in the market for that kind of service around my corner of the world here. 

It's a situation where I would end up spending so much time on this one client's request that I would have to charge an exorbitant amount of money just to compensate for not being available to service other clients (whose needs are in-line with my main offerings), so much so that this client would likely turn down the bid anyway. Additionally, it's a service that's not nearly as frequent as the other types that I provide, so the cash flow would be sporadic rather than steady. It's a lose-lose, even if the client doesn't see that and agree. 

So, I just said "no." 

Now, admittedly, part of why that feels good to do is that I know I'm in high demand and opportunities that better fit my business abound, so the feeling is in-tune with the reality of my situation. It would be a different story if my business were brand new, my book of business were smaller, etc. But, neither is true, that is the reality and the confidence that inspires. 

Old habits are hard to break though: I built up what I have now on "I can." With few exceptions, when someone approaches me with a service request, my gut reaction is to find a spot in my calendar for them. It's a higher mental exercise to step back and really analyse what it is that they want and if it is an optimum fit for what's already on my roster these days, what my business has grown and evolved into.

Opportunity is easy to chase, thinking of opportunity costs is much harder to do...

20 August 2020

A Little Darker This Morning

Up early for work this morning. I noticed that it was a bit darker at 05:30 than it has been. The days are growing short again.

Not my favorite part of the year. 

Time to start looking south toward the equator...

18 August 2020

Thoughts on Greed

I came across some anon griping on Twitter about "greedy rich people." As per the usual it included a gif image of a falling guillotine. Very typical these days, perennially pathetic. 

It got me thinking about a question I've asked myself and others before: "Is greed wanting more while others have less, or is greed wanting more while offering nothing in exchange?" 

I think it's the latter. There will always be someone, somewhere, with less, so it's impossible to want more without there being someone who has less. Greed is thus inescapable without perpetually sacrificing one's self to others? That can't be it. 

The latter is wanting what others have, simply because one exists. To offer them no value in exchange, to simply state, "I am here; therefore, you must satisfy me." It is to treat your own existence as an unearned obligation on everyone around you. That sounds like greed to me. 

Thus, wanting more can be creative, or destructive: if one wants more and creates value to be traded with others, more wealth comes into existence and, provided that one is permitted to enjoy the reward, further creation is incentivized; the converse is the latter example above, in which creation is "rewarded" only with unceasing, unrequited demands, so wealth creation ceases as there is no reason to create value beyond a subsistence level. 

The former leads to greater general prosperity, the latter to self-serving destruction. 

The latter is greed. 

These days, it is proclaimed as a virtue by those who would sacrifice all of us to themselves. 

"Who is John Galt?"

17 August 2020

Running "The Wheel" on GE Stock, Building a Long Position

For a while now I've been using "The Wheel" to generate cash flow on $650 "chunks" of capital with options on GE stock. 

The Wheel, explained:

I've been in and out of the stock by this method with weekly contracts, and as of now I've achieved a cost basis of $5.32/share, with the contract premiums collected averaging out to a 68.6% annual "yield" on each $650 chunk that has been backing the contracts I've been writing. 

Big attraction for me here: I could do this from anywhere in the world that I have access to the Internet; location-independent income. 

I've been doing this while GE is essentially range bound between $6 and $7, but I don't expect that to last forever. I think GE is like a lot of companies out there right now, suffering under past mistakes (which are being corrected) and compounded by that whole virus thing (which is ending, one way or another). It's a lid of uncertainty that I fully expect will come off at some point, hopefully soon, and allow the stock to go much higher. 

As such, I've added a twist to my Wheel process: this morning I began using the premiums I have been collecting to go long GE shares. 

One of the things that is sort of a disadvantage of The Wheel is that your upside participation is somewhat limited. I don't particularly mind that as I consider this what I like to call "Bird in Hand" trading, an approach that deliberately seeks current, realized income rather than hypothetical future gains. In other accounts I do play the long game with very long time horizons, but this one is primarily about generating cash for immediate needs. Since it's all just practice at this point (I'm not using any of the income this account has been throwing off for my immediate needs), mixing in a little of the longer term game isn't going to have any impact on my quality of life, and it gets me in on some of the action if GE stock takes off from current levels. Who knows, maybe this long position will just be a quick flip anyway (from a tax perspective, a short term cap gain would be treated the same as the option premiums, so why not?).

Disclaimer stuff: I'm not making any recommendations here, this is just me sharing what I am doing. 

16 August 2020

So someone told me recently that I should start a blog...

...and, yeah. 

He's right, mostly: I should start to blog. This one is just here waiting for me, after all. 

It was a discussion about bee keeping in which it came up, actually, it wasn't about blogging. My bee keeping exploits have been growing, I'm now managing six hives, and some folks are looking to me now for pointers. I could certainly turn that into content. 

If you want to see something cool (I think this is cool, anyway), check out my latest colony acquisition, a colony I cut out of the trunk of a standing tree last weekend.

That's certainly a place to start dusting off this blog of mine, and a topic to revisit in the future since bee keeping is becoming more of a thing with me. 

Otherwise in the last year+ I've been up to my usual, investing, and getting in more travel. I finally checked Belize off of my list of places to visit this past February. Let me tell you, it was nice:

Did some real estate shopping while I was there, found some good stuff but unfortunately the world went to Hell two weeks after I flew home so nothing has come of it as of yet. Definitely a place I'll go back to one day. Lots of other places are on my list though, so I'll keep exploring before I double back on any of my foreign excursions.

It's looking like Nicaragua is next on my list, and that also has to do with my investing and ex-pat aspirations (I also hate being cold, so I usually take these trips when the northern hemisphere is in winter). Primarily it's just plain curiosity that has me checking out other parts of the globe, but there's also business and tax considerations, plus my growing skepticism at the future prospects of the United States. On that note, I was supposed to be heading to Nomad Capitalist Live in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, next month. It's now in May of next year instead (virus stuff). As such, I may end up planting a flag overseas somewhere before I even attend the conference, we'll see.

There's definitely plenty to write about on my investing activities, especially over the past six months. In February, I had my entire household budget covered with passive income. By the end of March, I got knocked back to needing to come up with $232 per week. Not a bad place to end up in, all things considered, but disappointing none the less. Generally when I'm faced with stuff going wrong, I start rethinking my paradigms and adapting so I can keep moving toward my goal. That led me to not worry so much about "passive" income per se, shift my focus to "location-independent income," and explore approaches to that beyond dividend investing. I still have a healthy portfolio of dividend payers, but lately I've been using simple options strategies to generate income. In particular, I am a fan of "The Wheel":

Anyway, that's it for today I think. Like I said at the opening of the post, I agree with the suggestion that was made to me that I blog. I seem to have a collection of hobbies that people are really interested in. Also, considering what I just said about working on creating location-independent income, this is a good thing to put some effort into. This activity can become that, location-independent income, if I put the time in, so here we go. I think I'll just have to make sure that I stay consistent, but maybe keep things on the shorter side so I don't burn out on it. That said, thanks for reading!



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