Friday, January 29, 2021

Short Takes: Broken Brokers, 2020 Returns, and more

I was reminded recently that companies change over time.  Years ago, I bought a Remington shaver.  My reaction was similar to Victor Kiam’s: “I liked the shaver so much I bought the company.”  I didn’t buy the company, but I bought nothing but Remington shavers for decades.  My perception was that Remington was a company that sold a high-end product, and I was willing to pay for a better shave.

However, when the time came to replace my shaver recently, all the Remington choices were suspiciously inexpensive.  I settled on the F4 model, which turned out to be terrible.  Scraping it over my face for three times as long as my previous shaver didn’t produce an acceptable shave.

I decided to contact the company to see if I had just missed a better model.  They annoyed me by suggesting that I don’t know how to shave correctly and ultimately offered me my money back.  They didn’t seem to understand that I didn’t care about getting my money back; I just wanted them to point me to a good shaver.  They couldn’t do it.

Now I have a Braun Series 8 shaver.  It’s considerably more expensive, but it gives a good shave quickly.  My long-time impression of Remington as a top-notch company is gone.  They changed to a low-cost (and from my limited experience, low-quality) seller.  Companies change.  (Disclaimer: I have no financial relationship with the companies mentioned other than having bought their products.)

Here are my posts for the past two weeks:

Master Your Mortgage for Financial Freedom

The Psychology of Money

My Investment Return for 2020

I Will Teach You to be Rich

Reader Question on Portfolio Drawdown

Here are some short takes and some weekend reading:

Tom Bradley at Steadyhand tells the story of a broker’s customer being 51st in line to chat online with his broker, but when he came back to chat as a prospective customer, he got through right away.  Tom believes “Your most important customers are the ones you already have.”  Too bad this broker didn’t see it that way.

Canadian Couch Potato goes through the 2020 returns of Vanguard and iShares asset allocation ETFs.  He also explains why the iShares funds outperformed slightly.  Justin Bender does a deeper dive into these ETFs’ returns in his latest video.

Preet Banerjee interviews Erica Ehm on his Mostly Money podcast to discuss her career and professional reinvention.

New research says well-being rises with income, even above $75,000 per year.  This appears to contradict widely reported results claiming that income above $75,000 doesn’t improve happiness.

Kerry Taylor offers a way of thinking through spending decisions to help you curb spending.  As someone who has had to learn to spend more, I think my extremely low spending until I was about 35 was mostly based on habits.  For the most part, certain types of spending just rarely occurred to me.  So, maybe Kerry’s approach to more conscious spending will help to form new habits so that ultimately you won’t have to think through every spending choice.

Big Cajun Man finds support from Chris Rock on how a mortgage changes you.


  1. Happy (and not entirely surprised) that you didn't need to mention any of the foolishness going on in the market these days. Stay classy!

    1. Well, I take that back. I know that if you did have something to say, I'd probably learn a lot :)

    2. Hi Sebastien,

      The markets have been quite a sideshow lately. I don't care about the fate of hedge funds, but I'm concerned about the small investors buying GameStop shares on Robinhood and elsewhere. A small fraction of them will do well, but the majority of them must lose when GameStop shares return to a sensible price, whatever that turns out to be. I fear that even though some hedge funds have been squeezed, different Wall Street players will step in to make money on an even bigger shorting opportunity.

      While these active stocks sit at wildly inflated prices, the lesson appears to be that getting in on these frenzies is a good idea. The long term lesson will be that we should be staying away from these frenzies.

    3. Well said!

      I see a lot of folks say "what about the pensions" that these hedge funds have as clients, but to me, if they are investing this way for pensions, shame on the hedge funds, not on the individual retail investors for taking part.

  2. Thank you for adding me to this list. Market silliness? I enjoy seeing apple carts toppled, if they have rotten apples on sale.

    1. Hi Alan,

      It's fun to see hedge funds get pushed around, but I doubt this will end well for the majority of GameStop share buyers.