Diversification doesn’t have to be a chore

Benj Gallander, Ben Stadelmann, and Philip MacKellar
October 7, 2019

Some people seem to think we are “all stocks, all 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-averse guys 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 at the time, as compared to now, when prices are 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 venues 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 Benj 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 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 jewellery. 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 on collectible cards. These include baseball, hockey, Beatles, Batman, Monkees and many, many more. Unfortunately, few of these are in mint condition; they gave up their pristine condition to games of 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 Benj occasionally 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 value. 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 by passing the works to the next generation and maybe even farther 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.