About JSP

I have a dream. A world without financial worries. A life without the pressure that forces us daily to jump back into the rat race. And I have a goal: FIRE. Financial. Independence. Retire. Early. This blog is all about me getting there.

Increasing the odds

In the world of finance, we have many strategies, many different financial instruments, and thousands of advisors who will be telling you to have a unique way of making a fortune. Some might be the right people with the right tools. Sometimes. Other tools or people can be wrong, are known to be flawed, or come down to a pure gamble.

Every investor has the opportunity to try out all these different ideas, tools, and strategies, as long as he or she has the money to do so, and of course, if he or she is willing to take the risk. But if you don’t see yourself in this category, there is still a way to become an investor. A successful one. And it’s surprisingly simple. No one else put it better than Warren Buffett:

“It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.”

While the context of this quote was referring to the topic of value investing, it still includes a simple message: When you invest, you should focus on buying great companies at a fair price.

This simple formula was the reason for Buffett’s success. There are of course a few more points to it, and it all doesn’t guarantee that you will become another super-rich person. But most of these rules are nothing else but common knowledge and by following them you will significantly improve your opportunity to do financially better.

So when I advise investing, I am not promising anybody to become rich. Instead, I am promising to increase the odds. By a large margin.

Increasing your financial well-being without investments puts you back at the odds of a lottery win. That’s 1 in 13,983,816 (according to Google). Now it’s hard to put a number on the odds of becoming rich through investments, but history and statistics put them significantly higher than that. I recommend here a short read to put it a little better into perspective. Better than I could write it here on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

So the message of this post is: When you invest, don’t do it for the promise of becoming rich. Do it for the purpose of increasing your odds to improve your financial well-being. That’s why investing is for everyone.

Keeping things simple

For humans, the world is full of problems and all of these problems require some kind of a solution. The good news is that we as a species already accumulated a vast range of knowledge about most of our every-day problems, and how to solve them.

The bad news is that humans are not only slow learners with inconsistent memory functions. We are also easy to be influenced by others, and unfortunately, these “others” don’t always have our best interests at heart.

Let’s take a look at the concept of investing. As I wrote in my to date most popular article “Nobody wants to get rich slowly“, investing in the stock market is a fairly easy and straightforward process. The modern tools that we have at our disposal, namely easy access to information via the internet, access to the stock market, and to the right products (like ETFs), can help everybody becoming a successful investor.

But of course, everything simple can also be made more complicated. The world of investors today is not only about buying and selling stocks and ETFs, but the financial industry has added countless additional products to the mix. From FOREX trading to CFDs, short-selling, and BitCoins. Things can get pretty complicated.

Keeping things simple

I invest in single stocks and in ETFs only. I don’t trade with foreign currencies, I don’t put bets on the futures market, I don’t purchase digital coins, and I don’t engage in short-selling. Am I losing some opportunities along the way? Possibly. Does it bother me? Not a bit.

I like to keep things simple, and investing per se is a simple process. I do my research and then I purchase shares of a company that I believe has a bright future ahead. If I can’t find enough information about a specific company or can’t focus on one, I will look for an ETF that might cover that specific market group, and I invest in that ETF. That’s it.

It’s pretty rare that I sell any stock unless it made me a significant profit. Even then, I won’t sell the whole position, but probably only some part to free up cash and to buy the next stock or ETF.

My target is to grow my portfolio and to build up my stream of passive income via dividends. Ultimately I want to retire with sufficient passive income to not care about any government money or support from others. I want to be financially free and independent, and I still have plenty of years ahead of me to get there. History taught us that investing in stocks is the single easiest, most reliable process to reach this target.

Impatience and greed

But of course, there are some obstacles along the way, and the biggest ones are our own emotions, namely the feelings of impatience and greed.

Most companies don’t grow overnight, and the perspective of waiting for 2, 3, 5, or even 10 years for a breakthrough and the ultimate success is not easy for everyone. It can feel tempting to try to speed up the process with some CFDs and bets on the future, to hedge against losses with some short-selling options, or to divert some funds into bitcoins with the hope for a quick boost to your net-value.

And yes, there definitely are opportunities that I might be missing out on. But for me, it’s just not worth the headache, mainly because the trading frame is too short and the risk-reward ratio is not appealing enough for me.

I don’t want to trade stocks daily or even weekly. I don’t want to be forced to follow every single news-flash to be able to quickly react in a fast-paced environment. And I don’t believe in every single new trend is being said to become the next Trillion-$ market. So why would I give myself all these troubles, especially while knowing well that the simple investor approach that I am following now is historically also the most reliable one?

There is also the fact that while most of all these other opportunities in the financial industry offer viable options to make profits, they often also offer the possibility to lose your hard-earned money even beyond the originally invested amount.

Last but not least I am also perfectly aware that the main reason for the financial industry to push and empower a fast-paced environment is because they earn more in commissions and trade fees if their customers are more active.

Do your thing, but keep it simple and keep your emotions in check

I am not saying that people shouldn’t try other investments or explore other potential opportunities in the financial market on their own. Everyone can find a different path to success, and some products and concepts will work better for some than for others.

But no matter what you plan to do, learn from others who walked that path successfully, try to keep things as simple as it gets, and keep your emotions in check.

Investing in Thailand – TISCO.BK

Who would have thought? It’s already February. January didn’t really give us a fresh start into a post-covid era, which some overly optimistic people might have expected, and February doesn’t look any better. Neither does March, but let me write about that next month.

Having said that, the world is adapting to the new conditions. Stock markets are back at all-time highs as investor’s sentiment and perspectives for the future seem to be getting more predictable. So today, let me share with you my opinion on a bright star of the investment world of Thailand. A conservative pick from the world of finance: TISCO.BK

A modern specialist for finance in Thailand

The TISCO Financial Group PCL is a giant in the financial industry of Thailand. The company profile on Reuters says the following:

“TISCO Financial Group Public Company Limited is a Thailand-based holding company engaged in the financial and banking businesses. The Company primarily operates two main activities: commercial banking business and securities business. The Company and its subsidiaries provide banking services, personal loan services, corporate lending services, as well as life and non-life insurance brokerage services. They also offer securities brokerage services, asset management services, cash management services, underwriting services and others.”Source: Reuters

So there you go, nicely summarised their entire activities. The first time I stumbled upon Tisco in Thailand when I bought my first car, financed with a Tisco loan, and insured with Tisco insurance. I didn’t think much about it at that time as an investment, but I was amazed about the modern and easy way the loan was handled.

I would pay my monthly installments via online banking, at any 7/11 shop, or I could instruct them to withdraw the payments directly from my bank account. I could also make additional payments at any time I wanted, which was great as it helped me to pay off the loan much faster than the 6 years that I originally put in the contract. I paid the car back in half of that time and saved interest on top of it.

Stable growth and solid dividend

When purchasing shares, I prefer buying companies that I trust and that I have a positive experience with. So when I started investing in Thailand some 3 years ago, I naturally took a look at Tisco, and I liked what I saw.

The company has not only solid growth and an excellent share performance to show for, but it also pays annual dividends which are almost constantly growing year on year. In 2019 my yield on cost after tax was 5,84%, in 2020 it grew to 7,65%, and I am now very curious about 2021. The dividend is usually being paid out in May each year.

When COVID hit the markets and the stock dropped to levels below 70 THB, I have added to my position, which pushed my average purchasing cost to a mere 75,96 THB per share. So while I do expect the dividend to be reduced in 2021, I might still reach an excellent yield on cost.

Learning from other markets

Tisco is right now my largest holding in the Thai portfolio I manage, and I am confident that I will add more shares whenever I see the market dipping again or even if it would be just stabilizing further. One of the main reasons why I feel so confident about this company is my experience with another German financial giant: The Allianz AG.

While I never invested in Allianz (yet), it was always one of those stocks for me that I regretted not having had put money in (I still do). As boring as the business sounds in comparison with Apple or Starbucks, it’s one of the most profitable and reliable business models on the planet. It benefits from amazing profit margins and enjoys customer loyalty beyond what most other businesses can present. Not because of having such great products or services, but simply due to necessity.

If you’re investing in Thailand, Tisco should be at least on your watchlist. Do the due diligence, check the numbers, visit their investor relations website and analyze the chart. Read more articles from professional investors and get your facts straight. But I bet you will like what you see and that the stock will find its way into your portfolio.

DISCLOSURE: I have TISCO.BK in a portfolio that is managed by me.

PS: You might notice minor changes to the blogs layout. I have decided not to purchase the WordPress Premium plan this year to reduce my expenses slightly as my dividends dropped by 11% year on year. Therefore, I swapped to a free layout AND you might have to endure some WordPress commercials every now and then. Sorry for that, I will put things back into place next year.

For better times

Life is not only about money. And while this blog has its focus on it, today I’d like to share a poem that moved quite some people on the inauguration day of the 46th President of the United States.

“The Hill We Climb”
Amanda Gorman

When day comes we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade? The loss we carry, a sea we must wade. We’ve braved the belly of the beast, we’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace and the norms and notions of what just is, isn’t always justice. And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it, somehow we do it, somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken but simply unfinished.

We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one. And, yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect, we are striving to forge a union with purpose, to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.

So we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another, we seek harm to none and harmony for all.

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true: that even as we grieved, we grew, even as we hurt, we hoped, that even as we tired, we tried, that we’ll forever be tied together victorious, not because we will never again know defeat but because we will never again sow division.

Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one should make them afraid. If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in in all of the bridges we’ve made.

That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare it because being American is more than a pride we inherit, it’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it. That would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy, and this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can periodically be delayed, but it can never be permanently defeated.

In this truth, in this faith, we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us, this is the era of just redemption we feared in its inception we did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour but within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves, so while once we asked how can we possibly prevail over catastrophe, now we assert how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us.

We will not march back to what was but move to what shall be, a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free, we will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation, our blunders become their burden. But one thing is certain: if we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.

So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left, with every breath from my bronze, pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one, we will rise from the golden hills of the West, we will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution, we will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states, we will rise from the sunbaked South, we will rebuild, reconcile, and recover in every known nook of our nation in every corner called our country our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful, when the day comes we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid, the new dawn blooms as we free it, for there is always light if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.

Let it sink

I won’t comment too much on it. It’s beautiful.

Bye Mr. Trump. Bye, to the rest of the Trump family.
The world is moving on.

Investing in Thailand – BDMS.BK

January is already proving to be a challenging month, with COVID still in full expansion mode. This means that we still follow all the protective measures and restrictions which have been put in place to protect the public, including full or partial lockdowns, travel restrictions, mask mandates etc.

Thailand managed the outbreak pretty well so far, but in the last 3 weeks, things also escalated here a little bit with lots of new infections and putting public life once again under pressure.

But every crisis can also be an opportunity, and as promised, I’d like to present one such potential opportunity in the investment world of Thailand on my blog.

The leader in medical services in Thailand

Things need to get worse before they can better, and for investors with some cash on hand, this is a good time to look for undervalued companies that will either recover after the crisis or which might even profit further from it. And one such company is Bangkok Dusit Medical Services (BDMS.BK).

You can find more information and investor relations for BDMS right HERE. The company operates hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities, including the production of pharmaceuticals. The “About Us” section of BDMS describes the company as follows:

“Bangkok Dusit Medical Services (BDMS) is one of the most prestigious hospital networks in the Asia-Pacific region, with 26 hospitals and/or clinical programs out of a total of 48 hospitals across the BDMS network that have been accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI). We are ranked in the top five private hospital groups globally in terms of Market Capitalization. BDMS offers world-class medical care and treatment to both local and international patients, complemented by the latest medical technology. Our team of qualified doctors and nurses consists of specialists in every field. These health professionals have received training from top medical schools around the world, and they are passionate about providing only top-tier health services to every patient.

I can confirm that the company has not just the reputation of being the best in Thailand, they are the best. I am living in Thailand for almost 10 years now, and I can confirm that whenever I get sick, I wouldn’t consider any other hospital than a BDMS operated hospital or clinic. And it’s the same for every single expat here that I know.

They are modern, clean, the staff is professional, the service amazing, and while they are more expensive than other medical facilities in Thailand, the value is still reasonable. Especially if you have insurance.

The Stock

The stock suffered during the crisis as you can see on the chart, but it’s already on track to recover and I expect it to thrive once the vaccinations across the country begin to take place, probably around March and April this year.

While the hospital will certainly benefit as one of the main distributors for future vaccinations, its business is currently also affected by consumer sentiment, and the lack of medical tourism, which is a very strong contributor to the companies top-line. People from all over the world are coming to Thailand to undergo essential and non-essential treatments, thus the current travel restrictions are a serious drag on the companies revenues. Once the restrictions are lifted, the stock should continue its recovery and get back to a level of around 24 THB, thus implicating a 12% upside on this factor alone.

BDMS is also a dividend payer, with the dividends usually being distributed twice a year in April and in September. In 2020 however, there was only one payment. The last dividend came in at 0,25 THB per share, so the yield was not impressive, and overall the dividend history is not showing any real care for dividend-growth or even small growth consistency.

Stability for your depot and long-term benefits

Overall I regard this stock as a good, but not very exciting opportunity. It’s a solid company with good long-term potential and a boring dividend. But boring is good. Long-term potential sounds great to me. And as it’s slowly making its way back up, for me it definitely is one of those SWAN (sleep well at night) stocks that puts stability and trust in my portfolio.

DISCLOSURE: I am managing a portfolio which owns BDMS.

The first one for 2021

Finally. 2020 is gone and 2021 has begun. And the start couldn’t be more promising. A little rough, and it’s also affecting me and my journey, but promising nevertheless.

Let’s start with the biggest drama, the virus. COVID is not gone. In fact, it seems to get worse, but it’s not that we wouldn’t have expected that. Most of us make a big deal every year at the end of each and every year about things coming to an end, starting new, new year’s resolutions. But in reality, the next day after the 31st of December is just that. Another day. Another sunrise. Nothing more than another shift in the tides of time. So why should have anything changed in comparison with the day prior to January 1st, 2021?

Correct. Nothing changed. COVID is still spreading and to top it off, there seems to be a slightly mutated version of the virus going around. Spreading faster, it seems to be more difficult to track and isolate.

Japan has declared a state of emergency, China is once again shutting down regions, towns, and cities, and even Thailand came back into a de facto lockdown. The authorities are very cautious in not calling it a lockdown, but the measures in place include massive restrictions on travel, business, and semi-curfews. So I guess using the term “lockdown” is debatable, but certainly not too far off.

And of course the big elephant in the room. The US is in its final days of getting rid of Donald Trump. There is no question that he is leaving a legacy, but in my wildest dreams (or should I say nightmares) I wouldn’t have thought to watch the news and to see what is unfolding in the “oldest democracy in the world”. Shocking. But not surprising. I mean seriously folks. Electing a real-estate shark for president, what would you expect? And it’s not just any real estate guy. It’s one of the worst that ever walked the globe.

Trading the future

Having said all that, expectations are positive. We all know, things need to get worse before they can get better, and the way I see it, we are about to reach the peak of the crisis.

Infections are on the rise, but so are vaccines. Several types of vaccinations are being distributed and administered across the globe, and the ramp-up will only get faster from here. We know there is a life after COVID, and it’s clearly visible on the horizon.

MAGA supporters had a short uprising, but it seems they had not enough support, no real plan, and they were badly organized. So this ended rather quickly. The way I see it, all they did was to bring the Republican party on the brink of collapse. This brings not only a definitive end to Trump and his presidency but potentially also to any other political aspirations anyone in the Trump family might have (had).

So, we see all this happening, and we know that the future will be better. Therefore stocks are rising, and investors are preparing for a bright and profitable second half of 2021. And so am I.

Happy New Year everyone.

The last one for 2020

First things first: Merry Christmas everyone! Nevermind where you live, Christmas is probably not as it’s supposed to be. And neither will be the New Years Eve event. COVID infections worldwide came roaring back across the globe and have crippled public life once again. Even in countries that previously did well in handling it. Yes, even here where I live, in Thailand.

So, while everyone is awaiting the vaccines to roll-out on scale, we have to remain cautious and vigilant, and hold the line until we get through the worst part of this pandemic. My personal expectation is set around the target date of sometime around May 2021.

2021 will get better

I am pretty optimistic for the next year and expect things to get significantly better. While the economic crisis has shattered businesses and destroyed livelihoods, there is a positive effect to it.

As bad as it may sound, the crisis has cleared the market of many weak companies. Stronger companies discovered weak spots and dependencies that had to be addressed. People have realised that some business models are not as bullet-proof as they thought, and some traditional business partners are less reliable and trustworthy than one would have expected. Those who get through this crisis will come out stronger on the other side, new alliances and partnerships will be formed, and unproductive and inefficient constellations have been abandoned.

For investors, these are good news. Especially for those who invest long-term. Getting through a crisis on this scale builds trust and confidence. This in turn will support pricing of shares and dividend payments. The recovery will come.

That is unless…

But of course, the very first thing that COVID taught us is that such dramatic events often come unexpectedly. And while we might indeed be done with COVID sometime next year, the world is far from secure from other crises that might happen right after that. Whether it’s another virus, a military conflict on a global scale, trade-wars, who knows. Everything can happen.

However, the smart thing to do is to remain optimistic. Historically and statistically, optimistic investors fare better and end up better off than pessimists. Always. Because unless the world literally collapses, markets do recover. Businesses adapt and come back. Innovation never stops, it’s part of our DNA.

So with these positive lines I like to say thank you to all my readers for following this blog in 2020, and I am looking forward to keep writing for you also in the coming year. What can you expect from me in 2021?

  • I will continue writing about financial independence. As you know, my target is to become financially independent, and I intend to reach this target by investing in stocks. This will continue and I will keep writing about it.
  • I will start writing about investing in stocks in Thailand and about Thai companies. In 2020 I have opened an investment account for my wife and for my daughter here in Thailand, and started investing on their behalf with surprisingly good results. The experience I gained through this will be something that I like to share with other potential investors, especially those who are living in Thailand.
  • I will start writing about how to set up a business in Thailand. Currently my wife is about to open a small business, a health-food cafe with smoothies and smoothie bowls. We are working on it together and learning a lot about how to open a small business here. We are in the final stages now, but once setup and done, I will share the experiences made along the way in a few articles.

So this is it! Goodbye 2020, hello 2021!

I am wishing you all a healthy and successful new year ahead!

Portfolio year-end evaluation

As the year is coming to an end, it’s time for a portfolio re-evaluation. I do this every year in order to determine what I did good, bad, or just wrong, and what I can and should do better in the next year.

Keeping a cool head

I wrote it many times. When it comes to investments, you need to keep a cool head and take emotions out of the equation. You need to stick to your thesis and know that you’re in for the long run no matter what. But this is easier said than done.

When your shares are moving up for a while and you see your profits surging by 20%, 30%, or even 50%, you might feel the urge to sell your shares just to make sure that you can actually keep that profit. I call this phenomenon “negative greed”. It’s greed because you want to keep the profits, and you want to make sure that your account gets credited before anything happens to it (like another downturn in the market). But it’s “negative” because once the shares are sold, you have obviously no more shares that could grow even further from there. You secure profits, but you lose chances for more profits.

Similarly, when your shares are moving down, it’s hard to stay cool while watching your account going negative into the double digits. When a recession hits and all you can see is a screen with red numbers on it, thoughts will crawl into your head. Thoughts, that question your decisions, making you wonder whether that whole thing is just a big scam that you fell for, and that you should have better listened to all your non-invested friends who think you’re nuts for being an investor.

On both counts, I did quite well in 2020. While I experienced all the emotions and drags as described above, ultimately I kept a cool head. The only shares I sold were those of Apple (AAPL) after the stock-split. They soared by over 150% and I sold some to be able to buy a few new shares of other companies which I considered to be good opportunities. What did I buy?

New investments

  • Wereldhave – A dutch shopping mall operator who suffered dramatic losses in its share price in recent months and who is due for recovery once this whole Covid drama is over
  • Starbucks – The company is showing over and over again that it’s one of the best in the market. The pandemic didn’t hit it as hard as one would have thought, and it will come out stronger in the aftermath
  • Veolia – After watching a documentary on Netflix about drinking water (the show is called “Explained”, highly recommendable) I decided to start focusing more on water-related investments

I also started a savings plan into an ETF. It’s called “Xtrackers MSCI World Information Technology UCITS ETF 1C” and it’s focused on tech-investments world-wide. 100 Euros a month that have started to flow into this ETF, completely paid by the dividends I receive each month.

One more word about Wereldhave. I had this company in my portfolio in the past, and I sold it at a loss when they cut the dividend and when the covid crisis hit. But I kept it on my watchlist and observed the stock movements on a weekly basis. When I noticed that the stock stopped moving further down (after dropping more than another 50% since the time when I sold them) and the company announced a new management team as well as a full restructuring of their business model, I got back in. The shares are now up 40% since I bought them.

Dividend growth

In terms of dividends, Starbucks and Veolia will contribute to my annual income in 2021 as they both pay stable and each year growing dividends. Wereldhave used to pay a strong dividend until the crisis hit. They canceled all dividends in 2020, and I don’t think the company will be able to pay out any dividends in 2021. I expect them though to start paying dividends again sometime around 2022.

My dividend income shrank in 2020 compared with 2019. This was mainly due to my largest and also most disappointing investment: A company called Aurelius (AULRF). It’s a business development company (BDC) which I purchased back in 2018. It was showing not only superior growth opportunities but also had an amazing dividend yield, and since 2018 it developed into my single largest holding position.

Unfortunately, it also became my most disappointing investment. The share price dropped by almost 70% and the dividend was cut down to zero in 2020. However, in the last couple of weeks recovery started to kick in. My losses are now at -56% and given the recent business reviews, I am quite confident that shares will continue to tick up. Also, the dividend should recover in 2021. But I admit, this one is my single largest nail-biter.

Overall it looks like my dividends year on year will reduce by some 11,60%, and this despite the growth of my total invested cash by 8,99%.

Monthly passive income

The total decline of dividend payments by 11,60% is obviously not great, but overall, my monthly passive income remained largely stable. My total dividend yield on investment came down to 3,22% from 3,97% in the year before. For 2021 I expect it to move back up into the 3,5% to 3,9% range.

Considering the scale of the covid crisis, I see my thesis of investing and putting money to work in the stock market confirmed. And 2021 is almost guaranteed to produce similar or better results, with most stocks set to soar once the vaccine distribution starts kicking in.

From Bad to Worse

When it comes to the pandemic, there are some good news and reasons to be hopeful. Several vaccines are either in their final development stage or about to get approved. Right on time for the end of the dreadful year of 2020. 2021 can only get better. Or can it?

We still have 5 weeks for 2020 to go, and no matter what happens until New Year’s Eve, this won’t be the end of the challenges. Challenges with the pandemic, and challenges with the economy. Production, distribution, and the re-opening of borders will take time. So will the recovery of the economy. And we are not talking about days or weeks. We are talking about months and years.

Why things might get worse

Markets tend to be optimistic, but corporations tend to be cruel – by perception. Despite the silver lining on the horizon, chances are that most companies will continue cutting costs, reducing payrolls, and doing whatever necessary to survive. But not only that. Many companies see this as an opportunity to push through decisions that may have not been possible without such a crisis.

Some of these decisions might be radical, but necessary and possibly have been even urgent for a while. Upgrades of IT systems. Reviews of procedures. Reorganizing teams and the abolishment of established structures. But there is also a downside to it, especially when it comes to the “reorganizing teams” part. People are losing jobs.

Same old or not?

Now don’t get me wrong. This is nothing new. Maximising revenues and minimising expenses is what every business does. That’s how you generate profits. This was the case before the pandemic. During the pandemic. And it will stay with us also after the pandemic. It’s simply how every business works.

But when corporate number-crunchers tell you that everyone is replaceable and that the numbers still don’t look good enough, then you might want to get creative in your response. Short-term requirements for a quick brush-up of the balance sheet might become costly in the long-run. And as everybody “on the ground” knows well, some people are truly not replaceable.

So, while cutting expenses and especially payrolls is nothing new to us, the magnitude of the cuts in the current environment is immense. And many of these cuts are not just until this pandemic is over. Many of these lost jobs will disappear permanently.

Things are not over for the service industry

The tough times are not over, and especially the service industry will continue to suffer. Hotels, bars, restaurants. People will vacation less abroad. Companies will continue keeping business travel at a minimum. Since so many people depleted their savings or borrowed money, they will eat out less and keep parties and events on the low.

As my readers know, I am managing a hotel. For the last 12 years in this industry I was never worried about my profession, and I never worried about my job (which includes finding a new one when I felt it was time to move on).

But this time it’s different. This is the first time that I am not confident in receiving the opportunity to extend my contract (which is due in May 2021). And it’s also the first time that I have doubts. In the case that it should not be renewed, finding an immediate new opportunity will be a serious challenge.

Many of my colleagues have already lost their jobs. Many of them are smarter and more experienced than I. It’s therefore only logical to assume that I might follow in their footsteps rather sooner than later.

One more reason to keep preaching financial independence, and the purpose of having multiple income streams. And practicing it.

What a year

Today is the 14th of November 2020, and what a year this has been! With only 6 weeks to go and all the bad news going on, all I want at this point is for it to end.

Whatever your idea or opinion about the Coronavirus might be, we have to acknowledge plain facts that it had an immense impact on literally the world as a whole. This is beyond anything my generation experienced so far.

Jobs were and are being destroyed, incomes diminished, entire industries shut down, and thousands of people are still dying across the globe. And just to be clear: Whether it’s a direct or indirect count, if the virus triggers the death, then it’s on Covid to me.

Since I am working in the hotel industry, I am directly affected by it. In order for my business to survive, I need to cut expenses, reduce jobs, reduce salaries. It hurts. It’s many tears and many broken hearts. Many tough decisions every single day. And despite having the promise of a vaccine now visible on the horizon, we still have a few more months of pain and suffering ahead.

Also let me share with you this: As a business insider in an executive role, I can tell you here and now that this won’t get better any soon. Even post-covid. For most, the jobs that were cut aren’t coming back. The recovery of the service industry, the largest industry in the world, will take years. In order to survive cost cuts will remain in place until further notice.

Financial independence has never been more important

What I am sharing and trying to explain above is that the world is not going to get really significantly better any soon. And even if, how do we know that there won’t be another outbreak in one, two, or five years from now?

We have learned that there is no such thing as invulnerability. There is no such thing as total job security. And when times get really tough, even the best employers might be forced to make some tough choices to the detriment of employees.

Business owners face even greater risks, especially when they operate on thin margins and have not sufficient funds to survive prolongued periods of time without a regular income.

So what are our choices? How can we financially prepare for such an event?

There aren’t many choices, frankly, and there is no single solution. What we have to do is to create layers of protection. To create multiple income streams. And being invested in the stock market is one such strong layer. Also during the current crisis, it has again shown to be a reliable protection for tough times.

I am not talking about the value of my shares. I am down 25% in my portfolio so far. What I am talking about are dividends, my passive income stream.

Let me compare it with my salary, which is currently being cut by 25%. Next month it will be probably around 30%. At its peak, the cut was at 40%. But my dividends have decreased by only 11% year on year. And while I am not certain about my salary, I am quite confident for my dividends to fully recover next year.

Some of the most reliable dividend companies have not changed their policies and kept paying the same or even increased amounts throughout the crisis. This has again reconfirmed with me that for those who seek financial independence, being invested in the market is essential.

This crisis has been a huge reminder that we need to take responsibility for our financial well-being into our own hands. We can’t always rely on others, not to mention governments.

And it’s not just about the money. It’s about having that pressure off your chest, knowing that you have one more layer of safety, one that will contribute to protecting you and your loved ones when times are tough. This feeling alone is beyond any monetary value.