If all art is imitation, and writing is an art, then all writing is imitation. – Retire29
This post was inspired by a post I read recently by JC at Passive-Income-Pursuit. I loved the idea so much that I wanted to apply it to my own portfolio.
I’ve advocated thinking about stock ownership in terms that are tangible. It is easy to get blinded by numbers on a screen. It’s also difficult to illustrate investing to others when all you do is talk numbers. Yield, P/E, Payout Ratio, Free Cash Flow, Free Willy…it’s exhausting.
I’d rather think of every little slice of a company that I own as a clone of me that goes to work every night after I go to sleep. When the company pay a dividend, it’s no different than that clone bringing home a paycheck.
Currently, I have 71 clones working for me (here’s the portfolio), and boy howdy do those guys like to go clubbing. If a clone makes a better yearly salary, then they go to a better club. However, everyone always starts out at the same club…
The Unpaid Interns Club
Thirteen clones of mine are unpaid interns, making no dividends (therefore not sending me any cash). The only club they can go to is The Unpaid Interns Club, since it’s the only one around that doesn’t charge a cover. The beer is warm and usually called “Natural Light.” The premium vodka doesn’t have a label on the bottle, and the guy checking IDs at the door…well, let’s be honest, there’s nobody checking IDs at the door.
*: Google has two separate share classes in the portfolio.
You’ll notice a lot of fun people in this club. Many of these clones are great fun to be around, and many are sources of great wealth. But still, they are not sources of cash flow. One day they will be. But, for now they’ll be hanging out at the Unpaid Interns club, praying for clean glasses and watching the big game on a television that was purchased in 1992.
Fast Food Protesters Club
We all know and love our country’s fast food protesters. You’ve seen them. People that hate love their job SO much, that they willingly and repeatedly go on national media to bite the hand that feeds them.
Warning: Tangent Alert
Alright, I understand that income inequality has never been higher, but it is remarkably easy to make good money in this country. Even convicted felons like Eric at Retire29 can up and start a blog (just kidding, I could never start a blog). But seriously, just about anyone can drive for Uber or Lyft, be an Instacart shopper, or rent out their stuff, car, or extra bedroom. Want to step it up a bit? There are coding bootcamps that advertise 100% job placement rates and $100k salaries after just 8-12 weeks of intense schooling.
I worked fast food. In fact, I’ve worked a lot of jobs for a lot of different wages. At no job was I ever lied to about what I’d be making. I was never forced into work (no, I wasn’t drafted). And, in every job I was thankful for the opportunity to work there. Even in New York, where I was struggling mightily, the first and last thing I said to my boss was, “Thank you for the job.” When I was working fast food, the low wage only lasted a few months. If you’re motivated, show up, and do your shit, you’ll get steady raises.
Then, you save a little scratch, even a hundred bucks, throw it at some solid dividend paying stocks, and suddenly your tiny little dividend clones are working those dead-end minimum wage jobs for you.
In this club you hear a lot of complaining, and the rate of unpaid bar tabs is alarming. But, a lot of these clones just started making money recently, which is why the cover is only $5 a year. But, with some hard work and determination, I’m sure they will move up to better clubs soon enough.
The Entitled Millenial
Ah, yes. Everyone at this club makes at least $50 a year. It’s not a lot of money, but it at least gets you around some folks who think the world should be handed to them on a silver platter. Looking around me, I see a lot of boat shoes on the guys and I’m getting a lot of smug looks from the gals. I must have done something wrong.
Really, though, I think the “entitled Millenial” thing is a bit overblown. I’ve interviewed a bunch of millennials, and I don’t think any of them has seemed particularly “entitled.” I do think that millennials are steadfast in subscribing to the “work smarter, not harder” mentality, so when we ask them to cut the grass, they tend to think that it must be somebody else’s job.
These clones like to congregate at this club, which plays old vinyl records because vinyl is cool again. It also happens to be right between a Whole Foods and Pinkberry.
The Greek Tax Agency
This club is very full. It takes $100 a year to get in, so we’re making decent money now. This club is shoulder-to-shoulder with folks who don’t particularly like to work, who tend to allow one-fourth of their economy to illegally evade taxes, subscribe to the mentality of “If I don’t get paid, then I don’t pay you,” who get bonuses for showing up on time, and they think that a pensioned retirement at the ripe old age of 43 is reasonable for the government to provide.
I’ve heard rumors that this club might be out of business soon. Supposedly they haven’t paid their landlord for like six months…
The Checked-Out Boomer
Too young to close up shop, but too old to care about getting better. Yes, The Checked-Out Boomers club isn’t exactly the most fun place to be. There seems to be a lot of printed-off e-mails on the walls, and there’s a list of the 2015 Federal Holidays on the back of the menu. This club opens at 6 a.m. and closes at 2:30 in the afternoon. Everyone makes decent money, and the cover charge is a spicy $200 a year, but you still get impression that nobody wants to be here. There’s an AARP Magazine in the bathroom and… are they playing Creedence?
Time to go.
The Club of Hard Knocks
The Club of Hard Knocks is a sparsely populated club. Those that came up with little and fought their way into a higher class sit confidently at the bar. People talk freely of their successes in the face of adversity. You get the impression that nobody is comfortable staying in this club for long, there’s always a desire for more. The cover charge is $300 a year, so these clones are well on their way to the big time. I recall going to this club years ago, when I tried to ask Elon Musk out to lunch without it sounding provocative. Solid clones, solid atmosphere, thrice-distilled vodka, formally-trained bartenders. I like it here…
Now we’re getting to the ritzy part of town, where the clubs serve custom drinks and the napkins feel just a little bit thicker. When you walk into Club Dan, you can smell the aroma and the signature ambiance that only a club with just a first name could have. Like Oprah, Prince or Cher, this one name club has just the right amount of pretentiousness that I could get used to. The $400 a year it takes to go to this club is steep, but you gotta pay to play.
The McKinley Club
William McKinley is known for two things, the first is waging war butchering an over-matched Philippians people to “Christianize them” in a war that was still implausibly lost by the U.S. in 1900, and the second is being the face of the $500 bill—which is exactly how much per year it takes to enter The McKinley Club.
It’s a lonely crowd for now. You get the feeling that nobody likes the name…
The Retire29 Club
The crème-de-la-crème of clubs. When you ask for a crown and coke, they literally bring you Robert Downey Jr. wearing Queen Elizabeth’s crown.
Everybody wants to be invited into The Retire29 Club, where the $1,000-a-year cover has to be paid by even the hottest of women on even the slowest of Wednesdays. Downstairs, the scene is trendy, where spoken word is often performed by Eric from Retire29. On the second floor, you have a party atmosphere the gyrates in unison to the sounds of didgeridoos.
Third Floor: Creedence Clearwater Revival.
And on the top floor, you have the clothing-discouraged champagne room, where your basic Eyes Wide Shut scene is playing out in vivid red lighting.
Yes, The Retire29 Club is awesome. Unfortunately it’s just one guy there for now, but eventually I have a feeling this club will be pretty crowded.
All of these little clones add up to $9,661 a year in cover charges sent home to me–a numer that rises just about every day. I’m looking forward to these clones slowly moving up to better and more prominent clubs. Right now most of the low-life clubs get most activity. In a few years time, I’d love to see some more folks start congregating at Club Retire29.
Thanks for reading Retire29!