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Thursday, April 13, 2006

If you like it so much...

...why don't you buy the company?

Remember that cheesy 1970's Remington ad where Mr Remington (Victor Kayam) 'bought the company' that sold the razors he so adored? You don't? Well then you must be much younger and hipper than me.

But either way, Victor was onto one of the biggest bargain ideas around: Invest in stuff you like and are knowledgeable about.

You're about to learn some secrets that even The Bargain Queen doesn't know. (That's mostly because she falls asleep whenever I start talking finance.)

But let me ask you this: Are holidays in the Bahamas boring? Is skiing in Europe boring? Are your future life ambitions, achievements and ideas boring? Of course not. And that's why investing isn't boring, because it's what will make all those other things possible!

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to share with you some investing strategies that have worked for me throughout my adult life. I am not a qualified advisor, and I have no specific advice to offer for your specific situation. However, I'm happy to share my experience and ideas that have worked for me and which, if you apply them to your situation, I hope might renew your enthusiasm for the idea that the only thing better than making money is letting your money make more of itself for you!

(To illustrate how important this is, right now The Bargain Queen and I are only earning enough to cover our daily living expenses. We're unable to increase our savings by squirrelling some of our hard-earned away, because there's nothing left after paying the bills and buying handbags. But luckily, I have some investments which are earning money all by themselves - so they're our de-facto savings plan!)

Think about various goods and services you have particular specialist knowledge of. Can you spot a fake purse at 50 paces? Do you know why this year's colour is more popular than last year's? Can you say why some shops make you feel like spending more than you should, and others make you want to clear out as fast as possible? Well, not many people do know these things (I sure don't) - but if you do, then congratulations, you have some specialised knowledge!

But what can you do with your specialised knowledge besides saving at the annual sales? If you believe a particular label, shop or 'look' is going to really take off, then why not make some enquiries and see if they are looking for ground-floor investors? You might not exactly 'buy the company', but you could buy a little piece of it. In a more general sense, if you know that designs and garments from a particular part of the world or a particular material will be in hot demand, why not put your money where your fashion sense is?

Now think about oil. Black gold. Texas tea. Everybody knows that there's squillions to be made in burning non-renewable fossil fuels, right? But do you know how it comes out of the ground? Do you know how to find oil? Do you know how it is refined, stored, shipped and made into petroleum? If you don't, or if your eyes glaze over even thinking about it, then how on earth will you be able to tell a good oil investment from a bad one? Why would you hand your hard-earned money to someone when you don't understand what they are going to do with it?

That's the thing about investing. There's no 'rules' or 'formula' for success. It comes down to your individual judgement about what you think will work. Victor Kayam knew that Remington had something special in razors based on his daily knowledge & understanding of what made a good razor. So what do YOU know about, and what special opportunities could that open up for you?

Now, put your checkbook away. Don't ever make investment decisions impulsively or on the spur of the moment. You can bet that before Victor 'bought the company', he spent an awful long time getting to know Remington really well first. So just for now, spend some time thinking and reflecting about different industries where you think you could spot a winner more accurately than the average joe. Next week, I'll have some more ideas to share about making the bold moves (with a safety-net built-in!).

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