Benj Gallander and Ben Stadelmann are co-editors of Contra the Heard Investment Letter
Some people seem to think that we are “all stocks, all of the time,” but that is not the case.
We know that stocks do not love us, so there is no reason for us to be monogamous with them.
Both of us appreciate and practice diversification, acknowledging that it is unwise for people to stuff all of their investments into one type of financial play.
As Benj wrote recently on his Twitter page (@BenjContra), “People often say to me something like, ‘You must love it when stock markets get beaten up badly. Creates opportunity.’ Well yes and no. While it creates prospects, it also depends how much I have invested in markets. Because when markets are beaten up, I will be too.”
There are numerous other arenas in which we participate.
At the forefront are our homes. Being the debt adverse guys that we are - maybe that should be our new moniker- owning our dwellings debt free is very important to us. Fair to say that was easier done then as compared to now with prices so much higher. Of course, many of the richest people in the world owe their wealth to real estate.
But over the years there have been many other alternatives for us to place our dollars.
Back in the day, we were both avid stamp collectors and still maintain our holdings. If you go way back to high school, Benj and his close buddy Alan Newton even had a stamp approval service, the Al-Ben stamp company, which allowed Gallander to enhance his own collection. Over time, those compilations can increase in value, and, if one is an avid philatelist, it can be lots of fun too. Coin collecting falls into the same ballpark.
Gold and silver are also common diversification tools, the former being more common to most people than the latter. We have some physical assets in this realm, but also certificates.
Many “store” their gold, silver, diamonds, platinum, moissanite and such in jewelry. Making money in this sphere can be difficult for individuals since most people buy retail and sell wholesale. A key is that enjoying ornaments can create happiness. Think engagement and wedding rings. Other baubles work in this way too.
Benj stocked up memorabilia with his collectible cards. These include baseball, hockey, Beatles, Batman, Monkeys and many, many more.
Unfortunately, few of these are in mint condition as he used to shoot cards and they lost their pristine condition when playing farthies, kissies and knock-down-the-leaner. Fortunately, his mother did not follow through on her numerous threats to throw them all away. Unspoiled cards have been added to the collection as sometimes Benj goes to card shows or stores and picks up complete sets
Antiques, statues and art also offer variations on the investment theme and have the potential to increase in price. Both of us have a number of artists’ renderings on our walls. Although there is likely nothing of even a six-figure value, we both appreciate how these works enhance our homes. These can be enjoyed daily, and there is a possible return on the distant horizon as a bonus. Perhaps that will be financial or simply the passing of the works from our generation to the next and maybe even further down the line.
Generally, when people talk about diversification, focus is limited. By expanding horizons, one can remain in better financial shape when stock markets or alternative assets turn south. At the end of the day, if the economy goes to hell in a hand basket, maybe you will also have collected some wine to salve the pain. Perhaps along with imitating an antiquarian. Reading is cheap.