So I am back! And with a non-existent view of hope, but not how you might think! I want this to be the beginning of something beautiful. I admittedly do not think I am very good at writing and my manager at work has recommended it as an area for improvement as well. I can’t think of a better way to learn than to just do it. Nike was right all along.

The main reason I am back is because I would like to help provide some value to this world in areas that are of interest to me and to others. If you take a look at the world out there, there is a lot of misinformation in the main media outlets. The spreading of lies, hate and manipulation. Most of the time it’s about things that don’t even matter to your life, unless you buy into hype.

There is a self-fulfilling prophecy that takes place though when you unconsciously partake in the media’s coup de grâce. I have no idea why that word came to mind, but your awareness twists and distrusts your reality based on what you have heard. Soon you are so confused and stop caring about news at all.

The world to be a pretty hospitable place if you keep an open mind. Challenge yourself to wonder “What if I am wrong?” when you realistically think about anything you do. I have always found the less I think I know, the more I will learn.

I believe I have a pretty decent nose for bullshit and if anything, I have found it helpful to keep a healthy dose of skepticism in my apothecary throughout life.

I will try keep my words as concise as possible in some of the topics I discuss this year, so that ultimately I might be able to enlighten others with some perspective and urge them to take action to do the things they enjoy!

Best regards,
Darren

I entered a virtual underground this weekend.

I attended the 2016 SuperSmashCon, where there were hundreds of vendors and events with the primary feature of the weekend being several Super Smash Brothers tournaments for all the Nintendo iterations of game since its conception. There was an arcade section of all the classics and vendors selling vintage games from the 80’s 90’s and 00’s, hundreds of TV’s and consoles where you can actually play some of the greatest Smashers in the world.

What I learned from the overall experience was unexpectedly existential. I decided to toss my hat in the ring and sign-up for two different tournaments. One a doubles version and another a singles, one on one battle on the Nintendo 64.

My friend and I were dispatched pretty quickly from the doubles tournament due to…inadequate experience and preparation? We were just simply bad and head and shoulders below the competition. Expecting to do slightly better, we walked around and enjoyed the other attractions and did our best to comprehend the shellacking that took place. During the afternoon, I played the singles 64 version against some other random competitors from different states, and it occurred to me that this was a legitimate competition, not for the casual fan like me.

My first round match up that evening, I was beyond obliterated by the 4th place finisher at the 2015 convention. I could barely squeeze one attack in. This year he took 2nd out of 314 entrants. Ultimately, in the moment all I really cared about was not getting embarrassed and of course I was embarrassed, by any rational observer. I tried to own it though and thanked my opponent for the beating and tried to offer some small talk where that didn’t actual go anywhere, besides a few inaudible whispers. If there was any doubt on where I stood on the gamer scale, it couldn’t be clearer now.

Looking back on what transpired, it was actually very humbling. Sometimes you may think that you are pretty good and know what you are doing, but until you play other practiced people in the “real” world, it means nothing. The irony being that its really a virtual world where all these gamers interact with real people to become the best at their virtual craft.

I realized that my problem in preparing for the tournament was that it was mostly against a “level 9” elite computer. The computer was quick, and calculated, however not infallible. With practice you would eventually be able to read, adapt, calculate and then begin to anticipate the CPU’s next move.

Live humans are more reactive and are not anticipating where you are going to be in a game like this. I would compare it more a boxing match where you want to be able to land blows without over exposing yourself too much. Once you or your opponent land a small hit, you can begin to string attacks together and the victim is at the mercy of your error.

It made me wonder how far how many hours of practice and research did these elite games have to put in to become the top of their respective game. It was obvious that other areas of their lives had been neglected to a certain extent. Hygiene and stench, health and diet, social skills and small talk, all could have provide a variety of other vendors at the convention however my guess is they would be seldom frequented.

In the end this is and individual choice. They are great at the game because of the opportunity costs they have chosen. For me the opportunity costs were not that high. My intrinsic motivation is much different then how many KO’s I rack up and how many gamers I vanquish. It would be fun to do that but, how much time do to need to invest to succeed. It unfortunately works both ways.

The great thing is that a convention like allows the gaming community a fantastic opportunity to connect in person that otherwise be virtual. It may not be benefiting anyone else in society, but at least it’s a home for some people. Maybe this is all some of these people know. They may not have any idea of how to interact with the world, which is why they are there which may why their here in the first place, but they have a great community.

And in the grand scheme of things, do I care? I am watching a screen of other people beating virtual characters up on a screen. WTH? Instead of asking the existential questions I tried to focus on this: Am I having fun? Is this helping me relax? Usually yes, this weekend it was absolutely not. The nerves were very really real and so was the virtual beat down.

The one financial aspect of this I touched on this weekend was when I saw the price of gold Friday evening and the egregious 20 dollar swing up in a few hours on the PPI and Consumer Sales data at 8:30am and the swing back down at noon because of bank intervention.

Does that look like how a real market would function? Does that look like the real world? Well neither was this weekend, but that still does not make it real. It’s certainly more real that my self identity residing in Super Smash Brothers.

-Vanddar

Many people search there entire life for an effective way to live and motivate themselves to achieve their greatest desires. However, there are usually many bumps in the road that end up throwing an individual off course. This is the roller-coaster of life.

But we keep searching for the next best thing that will allow us to harness our willpower and achieve greatness.

A common method for this motivation is goal setting. Everyone talks about setting goals for yourself. Try to beat yourself or someone else. This is common practice in society to gauge where you stand against everyone and everything, so you set a goal and hold yourself to it.

You want to drop a few pounds? Set a goal. Trying to fit into a swimsuit for that beach vacation? Set a goal. Trying to climb Everest? Well ok.

A goal in this sense can be defined as a few different aspects:

Goal

  • the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result: going to law school has become the most important goal in his life.
  • the destination of a journey: the aircraft bumped toward our goal some 400 miles to the west.
  • literary a point marking the end of a race. – Apple Dictionary

In each of these aspects there is a object, a journey and an end point that marks the “goal”.

My question is what happens next? What is after the goal? Another one?

This is how yo-yo diets happen, disappointment in yourself to fit in a piece of material and yea well Everest…I guess you can die at the pinnacle of your life now.

The problem I have with goals is there is an end point. Immediately afterwards, it sometimes is a happy ending, sometimes bittersweet, sometimes not. After a few days though you may begin to wonder what is next. What was the purpose to setting the goal in the first place?

You may even begin to feel pretty down after you achieve the elation of the goal or just happy that its over. Whatever the case, it’s usually just a continuation of the emotional roller-coaster that willed you to the goal in the first place.

Some may enjoy that approach, however I do not.

You may remember the saying that “slow and steady wins the race”. Well if we think about our life, everyone has their own race they are striving to accomplish that many times doesn’t have a foreseeable endpoint or a finish-line. That is where I propose the real answer lies.

Lifestyle

In my personal life, if you really would like to accomplish something. Maybe you should just forget about the end goal and focus on the process. Do you enjoy the process? If not maybe you are focusing on the wrong goal or endgame.

All the things in my life that have been good habits such as regularly working out, comes from simply wanting to do the activity.

Maybe you need just get a little creative with it and try another method which leads you down a similar, but different path.

I know that if I work out daily, I will feel like I have accomplished something that day, I will be more relaxed. I will be clearing toxins from my body and burning calories. I will sleep better too.

The key is I change it up where working out isn’t the same activity everyday, variety is the spice of life and I try to make working out a variety of different games or activities every day of my life. Sometimes it will be a battle, but it you focus on the why you are doing what your doing internally and not make it about an end goal or game you will find success.

Obviously, this is easier said than done. As Oracle from the Matrix says “There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path”

-Vanddar

Tomorrow the Brexit (British exiting the EU) looms large over the heads of the world. Will the Brits stay or will they go? Does it really matter how they “vote”?

 

From what I can tell, it looks like European officials have bought themselves some time for persuasion by pushing back this vote another week. The murder of the British Member of Parliament Jo Cox has pushed the media into a fear mongering frenzy to motivate people to vote to stay in the EU. I am unsure if it will work as an effective stimuli for the British since the cause and effect of such paints the same picture. Regardless of who did and the potential motive, the result is the same: head for safety.

 

Possibly some greater organizations would like to keep the Brits in the EU to keep their vice-grip on the islands sovereignty and economic liberties. The older folk in Great Britain may remember what times were like before the EU and vote for those better/higher growth days and err on the side that they would be better off on their own. The youth who typically tend to me more influenced by the establishment and remain in the EU might even have a hard time getting out and vote.

 

In the wake of all of this, financial “markets” have been volatile and unpredictable. Commodities like gold and silver have been continually crushed for the past few days. As fears of the Brexit are pushing “investors” away from the metals.

 

Despite these fears all of the fundamentals for gold and silver appear very sound across the global markets. My thoughts stray to using this as a buying opportunity.

 

There has been much sky is falling talk around the metals markets the past few weeks, however the metals have been rebounding resiliently every few days. With negative interest rates pushing into the minds of investors across the globe, how could any prudent investor not consider a flight to safety? Both Japanese and German bonds are yielding negative returns, so once again how could anyone not want to take a bid on some of the metals?

 

There are very few places to achieve a productive return of any sort these days and despite all the negative connotations gold should remain very attractive to large and small speculators as well as commercial hedge funds in the short and long term. There is much bad news out there, and individuals with capital may be battening down the hatches to ride out the storm.

 

Chances are that whatever the result may be from tomorrow’s Brexit the commodities will do well.

 

-Vanddar

If you look at the costs of everything nowadays, you can tell that something is just not right. Prices of most things seem to be going up. After paying the essentials (rent, loan repayment, groceries, utilities, etc.) there is not a large chunk of the pie leftover for things you want to spend it on. This is a growing reality for many today and the bad news is its going to continue for a while.

But, all is not lost!

While it seems that there is not much you can do with the monthly income you obtain, you need to think about the bigger picture instead of the month to month grind. A few small financial moves today can position you well in just a few months. Stowing away even $50 a month from each paycheck can be extremely beneficial in the long run as long as you discipline yourself and place your money strategically backed by some sound thought.

There are also many expenses that can be cut from your monthly expenditures if your take a close examination of your lifestyle in what may need to change to make sacrifices for your future.

There is much room to elaborate on each of these, but for the sake of brevity and trying to keep it minimally technical, I have come up with 5 easy moves you could make right now to protect your financial future in the long term.

  1. Hold some physical cash.

Why?

If you and 10% of the people with deposits in your bank went to take out all their money at the same time, chances are pretty likely your bank would go bankrupt and you wouldn’t get your money back. Its like playing musical chairs with one chair and 10 people. What a nerve racking experience. I hated musical chairs.

The reality is banks only keep a small of percentage of money on hand to pay back their creditors. Fractional Reserve banking allows banks to basically take any money you deposit in your checking account and go play at the Casino aka the stock market. They treat the money you give to them as a loan with no term, so you are essentially the creditor to the bank while they go do irresponsible things with your money.

If you loaned someone your money would want them to go spend it all in the casino and only keep 10% of what you loaned them with no guarantee of getting it back? Probably not. That’s why holding some physical cash for a “rainy day” in case other people may have to play the musical chairs is a good idea. It doesn’t hurt to hold a little bit of extra cash under whatever in case of emergency. You never know if your credit/debit card could stop working.

Also, if you think that your money is FDIC insured, think again. I’ll discuss that on another day.

 2. Buy some bitcoin.

Bitcoin is relatively new on the seen since 2011, however its upside potential could be tremendous. Not to mention that it is outside of the banking system. Currently, Bitcoin cannot be printed money like the dollar or any other currency, thus inflated and decreasing its value/purchasing power. There is a finite amount that can be “mined” in the 21 millions, so the stable supply of the cryptocurrency could be beneficial for someone looking to diversify their assets.

You won’t be worse off purchasing a little bit of currency that is outside of the dollar and can still be used to purchase day to day things through some vendors. There is already Bitcoin debit cards you can use as well. A Bitcoin is currently worth $528 USD as of writing this, which may seem a bit relatively expensive, however a bitcoin can be purchased in smaller denominations as well, like dollars are to cents.

You can purchase some bitcoin through an exchange such as Coinbase.com, http://block.okcoin.cn/ or https://cz.bitstamp.net/

 3. Buy some physical silver.

Why?

Silver used to be the mandated backing of the USD dollar per the constitution for the majority of US history, but between the establishment of US Federal Reserve in 1913 and the removal of the Bretton Woods system, central banks are only printing/devaluing fiat money now.

Silver also used to be part of the US currency in quarters that were made pre-1964. The silver content in these quarters is 90% silver and 10% copper. If you look at the price of silver which is currently around $17 per oz. This would make every quarter if melted for the silver approximately $3.12. Not a bad appreciation for a quarter.

Now before you get on me about the digital movement and the cryptocurrencies and all commodities right now, silver is at historical lows never to likely be seen again in our lifetime and in many historical cultures silver used to be used as money. Physical silver is also great because its a hedge against counterparty risk when people are defaulting. No one can default on you, even a bank, if you hold a physical claim on an assets that is in your possession. Just make sure its in your hand and not a safety deposit box. That’s the banks property.

Not to mention silvers industrial uses as well in almost all of our everyday products. Cell phones, laptops, calculators are just a few examples.

All of these combine to give a pretty good justification for holding a small amount of silver coins that you could also exchange if you were in a pinch. You can buy some at JMbullion.com or APMEX.com.

4. Move into Miners or physical holders

This may be a bit of a stretch for some people, however, if you don’t want to hold the currency or investment yourself you could create a Scottrade or Ameritrade Account and invest in some Mining companies that actually produce gold or silver or Gold or Silver holding account Such as Eric Sprotts indices.

The stocks are another way to have exposure to some markets with desirable upside without the physical inherent risk. As with other stock advice, do your research before investing in anything in the stock market. However from a long term risk perspective this could be a way to get the most out of your money with some patience and mental fortitude. Investing in the stock market is not for the faint of the heart. So if you plan on checking your account daily I would not advise on making this decision.

5. Produce something yourself aka your skills

Why?

Well to keep this simple. The universal law of wealth is to produce more than you can consume. It really is backward nowadays where we are told the US consumer drives the US economy.

Nope. The exact opposite.

If you were producing food from a garden for a portion of the year, your monthly grocery bill would probably come down. Even if you you produced too many you could sell some of them to a friend, neighbor or even at a farmers market.

There are millions of ways to learn nowadays and develop skills to do the things we love. It really is an unprecedented time in history. With all the opportunities to learn it’s even questionable if a college education is even necessary and you would save yourself $50K to boot.

By investing in your education and personal skill you develop, you may never know where that may take you. It could even lead to a side business that could generate some money for your financial and personal sustainability.

Diversification throughout these discussed areas will not hurt long-term, and its better than letting your money sit around in a bank and earning practically nothing, while inflation overcomes your savings. If you want to protect yourself don’t put all you eggs in one basket.

-Vanddar