Interview #2: Ben Luong – Why property is still the best investment option!

I am delighted to bring back Ben and thank you for agreeing to do another interview post.

Let’s kick off and dive into this by asking what have you been up to since the last interview..

That was back in October (read interview here), almost a year later, how the time flies. I am pretty much doing the same. I am still fixing people’s Google Analytics here and doing some affiliate marketing. The work is steady on the analytics side but affiliate marketing is so up and down… unfortunately mostly down in 2022.

I see you post frequently in the Limerick Whatsapp group even though last time you said you like to keep a low profile.
Yeah, it does seem like I post a lot. I guess people think my entire raison d’etre, is to argue, wind Michael up and use foreign words to sound smart. It breaks up the day for me as I work from home and don’t really go out in Ireland. My Google Maps timeline is home, school and supermarket.

Things can change quickly, so it’s always good to revisit things and also find out things I didn’t know about. For example, I mainly shop on Amazon and Ebay. It was a revelation that there are other places online where you can buy mobile phones at reasonable prices.

You were very bullish on property in the last interview, are you still bullish?

Of course. I still think it’s the best investment by miles. I ask people who don’t like it as an asset class to name the next best thing and there’s usually silence. Nothing comes close. If you can buy property as an investment, it’s something you should be doing until the bank stops lending to you.

So what do you think is the next best investment compared to property?

This is a tricky one as it depends on your circumstances. It’s going to be equities in some way. Pensions are usually recommended and they are very good on paper but need to come with a massive warning. The money is no longer yours, it belongs to an older version of yourself.

For a lot of people, this version of themself will be FI due to inheritance or property price appreciation. That older version of themselves won’t need the money. Recently Michael from the Firepodcast had the epiphany that he’s better off with less pension and more property. This is the guy who used to say, if stocks drop, I buy more as they are on sale.

A more taboo/ cynical answer would be marrying well. The moment you marry you are giving half your wealth away but on the flip side, if you are the poorer person in the relationship, you get half of their wealth. So maybe that gym membership or facial might actually be the next best thing to do with your money!

You said last time, you were spread betting but were losing. Are you still doing that?

Well, I did call it a day after getting burnt with Wetherspoons shares. I gave it another shot though after the crash at the end of last year. Shorting stocks, especially Coinbase, has been a gold mine. I made all my previous losses back and then some.

I am now in the 21% of people that make money from CFDs and Spread betting on IG. It’s a rollercoaster though and not for the faint-hearted. There are bear market rallies which can wipe you out if you don’t manage your positions.

It’s not for everyone but if you like stock picking, are good at it and want tax-free returns, spread betting is the best way to invest in equities in Ireland due to the tax. With leverage, you can actually reach FI quicker than any other equity play (apart from maybe options but they’re taxable and have a different risk profile).

If you want to open a stock picking account quickly, hassle free get DEGIO here

You say you made money shorting Coinbase, any reason for that?

Funny you should ask, I always like the opportunity to dump on crypto. Coinbase is what’s known affectionately as a shitcoin casino. It’s a place where you can buy various flavours of magic internet monies, which have an intrinsic value of 0. It’s all a Ponzi scheme which uses a load of electricity.

Even if crypto wasn’t all a Ponzi, why do you need a centralised exchange that charges high fees? There is no scenario where Coinbase does well. Jim Chanos has a great argument as to why it’s currently worth a little over its tangible book value.

I’m actually out of it now as the stock market is currently wild. Stocks pump and dump for no logical reason. Maybe if I get a strong tip, I’ll jump on but at the moment, the stock market is just like a casino.

Any final tips?

A lot of you are already FI with inheritance, house price appreciation and pensions but just don’t know it. The next generation won’t be as lucky so it’s important to provide support. You can gift money to your children, put it in a bare trust and invest that in equities. I wrote a blog post about it read here

If you can, get solar panels. With the war in Ukraine and energy prices spiking, they will pay for themselves within a decade, probably more like 5 years but 10 years max and then you have at least another 15 years of electricity. Conveniently, you run a comparison service that compares quotes over at Dolphin Utilities.

Check out more unique Interviews | FIRE Dave

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