2015 Year in Review – Best & Worst Investments
As the year comes to an end (can you believe it?!) I looked back at my 2015 to see how I grew my wealth.
Not only on the money side, but also on a spiritual level. Wealth, after all, comes in many shapes and forms.
Here are some of the highlights of my year, including best/ worst investments, and some personal insights from our life as a newly wed :)
Planned a Pi-Day Hawaiian Wedding in Three Months
We make money to spend money, eh? But as the head of Invest Diva, I make every single one of my spending moves with proper calculation. Even when it comes to my own wedding. And as we all know, weddings are no cheap deals nowadays.
Soon after my now hubby popped the question end of 2014, we had to switch our mood from "We are engaged!" to "We are so stressed about the wedding!"
With both of us being an engineer, setting the date was a piece of cake: Pi Day of the century, 3/14/2015 at 9:26:53. The date and time together represented the first 10 digits of π: 3.141592653.
This gave us approximately 3 months to come up with a grand plan. So we had to make very fast decisions, and avoid going bankrupt by the outrageous price tags! A Hawaiian wedding, especially if it is not done on a public beach, is crazy expensive. To give you an idea, we could have had 300 guests in a top hotel in LA, spending almost the same amount we spent on our private wedding which only included our close friends and family. Here are some methods we used to lower the total amount of our wedding:
1- Said no to a wedding planner: With both of us being perfectionists, we soon realized it makes financial and spiritual sense to avoid a wedding planner and to do it ourselves. By the time we would have explained to the planner exactly what we wanted, we could have done a better job on our own. Plus, a wedding planner would not have the negotiation skills of both of us combined.
2- Outsourced the dress: I had a very specific vision for my dress, and it had to be custom made with French lace. Considering our wedding time frame, purchasing my dress in an average American bridal shop not only would have been impossible, but also would have cost a minimum of $20,000. The funny thing is, most of these bridal shops would outsource the bridal gown to other countries such as China anyway. So I figured, why pay a broker fee while I have relatives outside the country myself?
I certainly did get lucky that my Mom was in Iran at the time, and was able to book the top tailor in Tehran. We did the measurements in New York, and used our email and Skype skills wisely to communicate about the design, the material and adjustments. The dress was made in less than a week, and my mom brought it to New York with her for half the cost.
3- Involved the media: If I learned anything from the Kardashians, it is that involving the media brings you discounts. They get discounts on everything including private jets, food and clothing, because they feature the brand names on their show or social media.
Now, I'm no Kardashian. But I still was able to come up with creative ideas to take advantage of media discounts. By a minimal PR investing and creating an interesting angle, I was able to get our wedding featured on a number of bridal magazines such as this one. Then we used the media power to negotiate on wedding location, photography, and even our custom-made Pi-shaped cake.
Our two-day wedding started off on a boat on the waters of Maui, and concluded with cutting our Pi-shaped cake right at 9:26:53, including a New Year style countdown and fire dancers. It couldn't get any geekier than that. Here is a sneak peak of our wedding on my Facebook page.
Now that it is all behind me, I am happy to say that the greatest return on this investment has been sharing my life with a very special person, through all the ups and downs.
Made 50+ forex trades
There is no question that I'm a long-term investor. When it comes to forex, I also avoid the temptation of getting in-and-out of positions quickly.
This sometimes adds to my rollover fee, but more often than not the trade itself will pay off.
My best forex trades in 2015 included:
- Bearish position on AUD/USD on May 14th, which reached target within two weeks without any hassle
- Bullish position on USD/CAD on June 30th, reaching target of 1.30 on July 22.
- Bearish positions on EUR/USD in October at 1.11, which closed at 1.0530 on December 2nd.
I called these my best trades, because the period during which I reached the targets was relatively short, and there were not many ups and downs in the pairs' forex dance moves. Just a straight shot to the target, which made the pips taste even more delicious!
On the flip side, my worst trade was a bullish position on EUR/CAD end of September. Do you remember the trading road map to success? For this trade, I failed to follow my own advice.
At the time, the pair had completed a Triple Top chart pattern and was showing bullish signals from a Fundamental point of view. Unfortunately, things started to go the opposite direction pretty fast. I waited until December 3rd, chewing on my losses. When the pair jumped up on Euro zone's interest rates cuts, I also decided to cut my losses short and got out of the trade. Such a mistake! The pair started moving even higher and reached my bullish target within a week. If only I had been more patient...
Over all and counting the wins and losses, close to 90% of my trades resulted in profit and I had a 57% return across my forex accounts.
Rang NASDAQ Opening bell with UN Women
As a women's advocate, this was one of the highest points of my year. On International Women's Day on March 8th (right before we jumped on a plane to start our wedding celebrations) I was invited to join the pioneer women in finance and in the UN at NASDAQ MarketSite, to symbolize a fight for women's equality in this male dominated industry.
Here is the story of how I got here, why it is important to me. My goal is to extend women empowerment to the next level in 2016!
Took all four of my wisdom teeth out
Now this is what I call an investment! While all my wisdom teeth were well-positioned in my mouth, I would get a gum infection in one of them every once in a while, especially after long flights. The worst time the infection decided to show its ugly face was on our wedding day! You may not notice in the pictures, but the left side of my face was swollen on the day, and the pain was enough to distract me during our wedding ceremony. It got even worse over our honeymoon, so I had to half-enjoy the beauty of Maui while on strong pain-killers and antibiotics.
That is when I decided to finally listen to my mom, and pull the teeth out from the roots. I was worried that my wisdom will also get pulled out of me together with the teeth, but it seems I'm still doing alright. At least my mom thinks so. Here is me before, after, and long after the surgery:
Invested in Stocks and ETFs
2015 was certainly a big year for us on the stocks and ETFs side. The difference between my investing strategies in these assets comparing to forex comes down to the definition on "long term" and analysis. While I mix the same amount of technical and fundamental analysis in forex, in stock trading I put a stronger emphasis on the fundamentals. As for ETFs, the analysis mostly relies on quantitative and qualitative methods.
I currently remain in all my open positions in stocks and ETFs. Some Invest Diva students are already familiar with our investments as we have covered them during our private coaching sessions. Some of my best performing positions as of today include AMD, TSLA, AAPL, NVDA, CVX, ATVI, and DIS on the stock side. My ETF trades include ZIV and a few emerging market bundles. Our returns sit at approximately 15% per month, but as I mentioned before, we are in these for the long run, and aren't planning on closing the positions anytime soon.
What is life without adventures? I have been an avid traveler most of my adult life, but when I decided to start Invest Diva, I had to put a cap on my travelling budget. 2015 was the year I was able to remove the cap, thanks to our company growth and some essential business trips. I had investing and book signing events all across the US as well as in Australia.
I was also able to slide in a few getaways with my new hubby. But we have even bigger traveling plans for 2016 which I'm super excited about!
Fastest growth in Invest Diva students
2015 was definitely the year of positive numbers for Invest Diva. We had the biggest increase in our student numbers and book sales. While this is great news after years of efforts, the happiest result for me was in the increase of "Thank You Notes" from our beloved students, subscribers and social media followers.
I do pay attention to all the emails each and every one of you send me, and all the positive comments you leave on our social media. It makes me the happiest when I know I have made a positive impact on someone's life or bank account. These are both inter-connected, and the growth of wealth we are aiming for at Invest Diva goes far beyond the cash.
I am beyond grateful for all of you who have shared our journey, and looking forward to even a brighter 2016.
Happy new year!