After 2020, I’m determined more than ever to celebrate every win. I am overjoyed to report that yesterday my book of poetry, The Breakup Suite, hit #1 on Amazon’s Canadian Poetry eBooks Chart. We’re number one, baby! Thanks to Rupi Kaur for ceding the throne for a short while!
If you look up your favorite stock’s price on TMX and continually refresh the page, you’ll probably notice that the price fluctuates moment to moment and wonder why. Well, what it comes down to are buyers and sellers, the former looking for the cheapest price per share possible, the latter looking for the most expensive, according to their views on what the business underlying the stock is worth.
What happens is that a random buyer’s price coincides with a random seller’s price, triggering a transaction. They happen to hold similar views on the value of the underlying business so they’re able to do business with each other. What one investor is willing to pay is what the other is willing to receive. Now, if their agreed-upon price is a few cents higher than what the stock last traded at, you may notice a jump in price when you refresh the page, especially if a considerable number of shares changes hands. The same goes if the agreed-upon price is lower, possibly leading to a cheaper price on the next refresh.
Moment to moment stock price fluctuations also reflect the decisions of thousands of buyers and sellers acting on their financial needs. Having a view on a what a company is worth and how much you should pay for its stock will help you make a more informed investment, but if you need the money to pay hospital bills, you’re going to sell no matter what. Same goes for car repairs, a house extension because more babies are coming, or taking a trip somewhere to decompress if you really need to chill.
Longer term, though, and we’re talking decades, stocks go up —i.e. have a positive expected return on your money—because they reflect the value successful businesses create for their customers. A profitable track record is generally reflected in a higher stock price, and vice versa.
One nice thing here is that, while businesses are founded and folded every week, economies as a whole tend to grow over time, meaning the successful businesses outweigh the losers overall. So if you invest in a portfolio of stocks meant to represent every economy across the globe—at least those with public stock markets—you can partake in their growth and make yourself some money.
You can achieve this by investing in a diversified portfolio of index funds that own every publicly available stock in the world, or at the very least a representative sample. Have a look at my short guide to investing for young Canadians for step-by-step instructions. I’m also available to teach you 1-on-1 over Zoom if you prefer.
The hardest thing about investing is wrapping your head around the terminology. Even if it’s not with my help, don’t shy away from educating yourself and facilitating the fulfillment of your financial goals.
To end, it’s important to point out that there’s no way to know for sure why a stock moves up or down in the short term. There’s no electric sign somewhere announcing that Suncor stock dropped because investors are bearish, as opposed to bullish (see above), on the price of oil, or Canadian Tire stock rose thanks to consumers growing increasingly comfortable with doing their home improvement shopping in packed stores. All financial analysts ever have are educated predictions based on available information.
The only thing we know for sure is that the better a company is at making money and funding its own profitable growth, the better the chance that its stock will soar and make its shareholders wealthy.
Feel free to drop your questions in the comments!
Disclaimer: This article is meant for general education purposes only. It does not constitute financial advice as I am unaware of your personal situation. Consult with a professional who abides by a fiduciary standard before making any investment decisions.
Everyone has something substantially wrong with them
At brunch, overcast, maybe you decide to say yes
To the adventurous and inadvisable
Further feeding your little infatuation problem
Superimposing your imaginings of things onto real things
Hoping to chisel your vision into actuality
Unmodulated by platitudes and spared the need for gurgled battle cries
Then there they are, in your bed
Having just ridden the subway together
From that show with the description that read good enough to attend
They say, I watch the news for my safety
You say, I’ve been told goals should be small
Numerous and directionless
To still have life left in them when you run
Out of original mid-life crises
You both hold beliefs that would scare the other
Into a different person
But your limbs and ideologies bend
In the same agreeable way
Which is close enough
When what is absent is a game
Whether you memorize an ending
Or you’re your own accomplice
And call it a new beginning
You say, so long as I get to flex my perspective
In seemingly insignificant ways, like
How I stock the fridge for midnight ruminations
Gash ice cream with a melon scoop
Knife a pillow to keep certain memories intact
They say, I don’t need confirmation of your desire
To exercise your right to know yourself
If it involves damaging me
I’m prepared for it to happen
I’ve honed my approach to difficult situations by a mix of willingly diving into them and running away from them enough to realize I should have just dove in.
I think it’s a good skill to have, not fearing extremes of feeling, and adopting a curious attitude toward how they mess with your mind.
This is especially true when you’re young and have to put up with situations and people besides yourself you have no choice but to be in/around to avoid poverty or preserve your independence.
The way I see it, it comes down to fending off your anxieties, limitations, and bs from others for as long as it takes to get yourself to a place where you can choose to do what you want.
Your choices will ideally be ones that don’t trigger your anxieties, allow you to sidestep or comfortably overcome your limitations, and include only people you are compelled and motivated by.
When it comes to anxieties and limitations before you have options, fostering a fondness for yourself, however hard a balm that is for you to apply, is the only thing that can claim any kind of long-term reliability. One way this could manifest is by unlearning what you were raised to think you couldn’t do, then proceeding to try your hand at a multitude of projects tied to these things and failing your way until something sticks.
You’re probably busy doing that already. The failure here a badge of honor you’re too proud to have to let talking down to yourself become a thing, even though it will occasionally rear its head.
A big part of the unlearning for me is looking fears and anxieties in their faces and getting comfortable with them as tenants in the borrowed space of my mind as I proceed to do what I want. There’s a difference between running away from something, which implies you should have stayed put, and walking away from something that isn’t for you. The ultimate arbiter of what that difference entails is you.
If you don’t have the option to work in your chosen field, selectivity where possible will help ensure a sustainable work environment: small intimate team instead of having 100 co-workers; customer service or its absence; that kind of thing. This year is my year to be more mindful in this area, as I finally have a little buffer to prioritize my mental health in professional settings instead of taking the job because I need the money.
When it comes to bs from other people, I favour the realization that we were all thrown into this world without a choice and left to make our own sense of it. Make no mistake, my skin wasn’t always thick enough to follow through on opening my mind to the many ways people make life sustainable. I’ve quit on great people and professional prospects on principle because I was uncomfortable with one specific person. It felt right in the moment, but I now feel differently about how much extra time this strategy tacks on to financial independence and being the sole owner of your time.
The sooner you foster empathy for people you vehemently disagree with, the faster you’ll get to a point where you can reliably avoid them. And perhaps only seek out their company to be ideologically prudent and steer clear of echo chambers. Not so much when you resist every instance of discomfort along the way, lengthening your path to living as you see fit. I believe this the most when I let myself see that we’re all acting in our own self-interest while trying to be as nice as we can to everyone that joins us for the ride. Most of the time, it’s better to have been a part of someone’s plan than to have missed the dance completely.