15 Lessons Learned From 10 Years of Investing

Mr. Enchumbao

I work for a large investment management company helping people save for traditional retirement. During my spare time, I help others save for financial independence and early retirement by writing for Enchumbao. My journey to FI began in 2012. I was in a lot of debt back then, but I turned things around and became debt free a few years later. My wife and I reached financial independence in 2017 and are preparing to retire by 2020.

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16 Responses

  1. An excellent read, and your timeline mirrors mine in that the vast majority of my investing has occurred over the last ten years and I’ve learned a lot in the process. I also started with target date funds and actively managed funds-of-funds, but have “graduated” to owning nothing but simple passive index funds.

    Keep up the good work, and I hope Mr. Market is kind to you over your remaining months to the ultimate goal.


    • Hi PoF-
      I also noticed that our investing styles do have a lot of similarities, after reading your asset allocation post. It’s good to be in great company!

      I’m not sure what to expect from Mr. Market (and never will be) but it will all depend on how we define kindness. Maybe he’ll give us a gift of a 20% drop so that we can buy more before we conclude our accumulating stage? As much as we don’t like to see our net worth drop, a correction might be the best thing to come our way now.

      I’m glad you liked the article and thank you for commenting!

  2. Curt says:

    Tnx for helping others! My personal decision to leave wall street and their manipulations to move into physical assets that pay passive income, real estate, rentals. The comment that real estate is not for everyone does not take into account that everyone is capable of learning and excelling. I did most folks can too.

    5 yrs ago my wife retired from teaching so we moved her 30 yrs of hard saving a meager $203k of 403b savings into a Self Directed IRA, with check book control and started buying rentals in good school districts of Atlanta. With rent re-investment the fund went geometric (hocky stick) in valuation. Just 5 yrs later it can be liquidated for $900k and today throws off $7k of rent / month. Easily enough to live off. The math on this gain should be impressive.

    I’m certain I did not have the skill and temperament to replicate this in the stock market. I seriously doubt anyone could do the same in the stock market. It is true we bought at the low of real estate, but historically it still is great time to buy. Typical real estate cycles are 15 yrs up, 6 yrs down. The hedgfunds jumping in and buying shortened the 6 yrs to 4 yrs. With the en mas conversion of past buyers into future renters and worsening ave income stats I don’t see anything but great predictions for buying rentals. As long as close to growing jobs and good schools. Best of luck.

    • Hi Curt,
      I agree that most folks are capable of learning real estate investment. We have a rental property that provides a 10% ROI but and it’s much less risky than the stock market. However I bought the property a while back and didn’t make the best of it due to its location. I learned some lessons since then which is making me think about doing a part two of this post to include real estate investments.

      That sure is an impressive gain. You more than quadrupled your initial investment in 5 years! Congratulations! I’m interested in learning more about Self Directed IRAs. I think that it is a great option to pursue so that you can have total control of your investments. We’re keeping our options open and are willing to look into those options at some point.

      I’m not familiar with the RE cycle so this is great info. As long as you make money when you buy and yes, have a criteria such as a growing job market and good school district, you certainly can’t go wrong with RE investing. Awesome comment! Thanks for dropping by.

  3. Great story! I went through many of the same phases on my journey to FI. Early on I was not maxing out my 401k, and actively trading stocks. After spending too much time trying to beat the market, I finally learned it’s easier and more effective to just make regular investments in index funds. Then down the road, I got a better with optimizing taxes and investment fees. Wish I would have learned sooner, but mistakes are a big part of learning, and I am sure I still have more to learn 🙂

    • Hi Mr. CK,
      It’s good to understand how important it is to be able to optimize taxes early on. Maxing out the 401(k) is our most effective way to lower our tax bill.
      We all have a lot more to learn and I’m sure more mistakes will be made! So I’m glad that we have this medium to learn from each other. Hopefully the mistakes will be small in nature as we find ways to mitigate risk. Thanks for dropping by.

  4. This sums up my whole FI/RE investment strategy. Keep it simple and invest on regular intervals until you have enough. Easy right! 😛

  5. I like your point about picking a day to invest. Despite the fact that I totally agree with you that timing the market is next to impossible, I spent some fruitless time researching “What is the best day of the month to invest?” There really is no consensus out there. So starting now I’m going to have to set up an automatic transfer. I’ve always just invested ad hoc each month.

    • Hi CoupleofCents –
      The only “market-timing”, if you will, that we sort of do is to rebalance with the new investment cash to keep our intended asset allocation. This minimizes the risk of being under/overweight in some assets.

      Picking a specific day it’s a great strategy that takes away the guessing of whether we should jump in or not. On “investment day”, which falls on the same day as payday, we look at the bills that are due before the next paycheck, set that money aside and invest the rest. Rinse, repeat.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  6. I can say from experience that it is much harder to increase pension contributions, than it is to start on a certain amount. I started a job with a scheme that I could contribute 4% and my employer would match it. Then (and contrary to every other employer), they launched a new scheme that was way better, but you had to contribute 8%. It was a no brainer, and it wasn’t quite losing a further 4% once tax and national insurance was factored in, but it was still a big adjustment to make.

    • Hi Sarah –
      I agree, it’s a lot harder to meet the match when companies have schemes that offer a match but require a contribution higher than 4%. What I would do in that case if I can’t meet the full match right away, is increase the contribution on an annual basis by certain percentage until meeting the full match or maximum contribution. But of course, the FI crowd that wants to reach FIRE sooner rather than later would want to sacrifice a little more to max out ASAP. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Thanks for sharing your lessons here. The lessons resonate very well with me and it is all stuff I have thought and considered over the years too. Being in the online community, I have watched others change their investment styles and try to one-up the market, aka find the next best way to beat the market. Investing simply and in strong companies may not be the sexy way to invest nor will it produce the amazing returns that one off stocks produce or that option income can produce. But, it will help you build a strong portfolio of companies that you know, understand, and know are capable of rewarding shareholders over the long run.

    Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences, again. Lots of good stuff in here!

    Bert, One of the Dividend Diplomats

  8. Sikasem says:

    It’s really motivating to read personal experiences such as this. Thanks for sharing all those tips.

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