Compound Growth is Indeed a Wonder of the World

There’s a famous quote attributed to Albert Eistein that came to mind as I thought about writing this post:

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it. He who doesn’t, pays it.” – Albert Einstein

Whether or not he was the one who said it is irrelevant. What is relevant is the fact that this statement is absolutely true; compound interest/growth is one of the most powerful tools someone can deploy to build long-term wealth and retire with dignity…and I daresay joy if you have enough saved to enjoy your final years. I am planning to be in the latter group with my wife, traveling the world. 🌎

It’s not often that life offers an individual a pure economic laboratory, but when I moved from Canada to the USA in 2011, a very specific limitation was placed upon me: I could no longer make contributions to my Canadian retirement savings account (we call them RRSPs). My investment accounts were/are made up of Fid. Special Situations Series B and Fid. Canadian Asset Allocation Series B.

This meant that unlike most retirement accounts that benefit from regular contributions and growth over time, my account would not get another penny of mine added to it. So, what have the results been after 12 years? If ever a picture was worth a thousand words, the one below is. ⬇️

I’ve removed the numbers, as this post isn’t about my personal finances, it’s about how powerful compound growth is. The web site showing the data doesn’t allow me to go back to 2011 for the above chart, but that was the year I transferred money into this investment account, then I left for the USA. My investments grew 15% by the start of 2013, the first full year of growth.

The dark blue line on the bottom of the above chart that stays constant is the total amount of my initial investment. The upper light blue line shows the growth of that investment over a 10-year period. You can see slow but constant growth from 2014-2017, a market crash in 2018 that hurt*, then a strong rise from 2018 to 2020. 2022 was a rough year, then it’s been rising strongly ever since. Will it crash again? Yes. Will it rise again, even higher than before? Yes, that’s very likely.

The bottom line? My initial investment has, via means of compound growth in the stock market and continual re-investment of dividends, increased by 346% from 2011. That’s an average of 28.8% growth per year.

It breaks my heart 💔 when I see financially illiterate people talk about how they don’t trust the stock market or investments and believe cash in a savings account paying essentially nothing is the best way to plan for their future. It’s not. Anyone who takes this approach is robbing their future self of economic benefit.

If you’re not sure where to start, I’m a big believer in automated investment platforms such as Wealthfront or Wealthsimple if you’re in Canada. They combine friendly, easy technology, automated investing, and low fees.

So go forth, invest, and be patient. 🤑

* A critical mistake some people make is reacting to financial pain in the market by taking their money out. When they do that, they miss out on the inevitable upswing that always comes after a crash. I’ve watched this play out in my investing lifetime twice, once in the 2009-2010 era, and again when Covid19 hit.

When automated eagerness creates an inefficient mess for customers

Since I work for Amazon, you can take this whole post with a grain of salt (I’m biased toward my employer), but even still…it’s hard for an objective person to not look at this situation with Target and think “This is the way it should work”.

I needed to order some paper for our printer, and when I look on Amazon the options and prices were a bit lacking. I jumped over to, and found some recycled paper at a good price. I needed to hit $35 to get free shipping, so I bought three packs of paper (which will last a long while), but I was still short of $35 and didn’t want a fourth pack.

So, I purchased some liquid water enhancers, five in total. There was only the free shipping option, so I paid and went about my day. What I expected to happen was to get a single box in a few days with everything in it. The next few days were truly odd as I watched what Target did with my order.

  • They sent four shipments in total, one of which had a single water enhancer in it, two of which had two each. Did they think this was insulin for a diabetes patient and someone would die if they wanted to bundle all the water enhancers in a single shipment?
  • The shipments arrived across four different days, so this wasn’t simply a matter of illogical packaging.
  • The emails. THE EMAILS! Does Target’s email team get paid by the email? 😱 Three emails per shipment = 12 total emails plus the original order email. Do I need to have an “your order will arrive today” email plus the email I get when it’s delivered? No, I do not.
  • The three reams of paper coming in a single box was the only logical part about this order.

I know that now and then Amazon will do something bizarre with a shipment, such as shipping a single small item in a large box. But overall, nothing can touch the lunacy of Target’s wasted shipping and packaging, let alone their almost-spam level of customer emails.

A quick financial tip: embrace automation

August 14th is Financial Awareness day, and unlike some of the other silly “holidays” – I bet National Left-Handed Scissors Day is on the list somewhere – financial awareness/literacy actually matters.

Financial literacy is generational: unless you come from a family where credit, debt, interest rates, and income are discussed, you may have grown up without an understanding of these topics. Our first paycheque should come with some instructions on how to manage our money, but it doesn’t, so most of us are left to muddle our way through our financial journey on our own.

One financial tip I can share is to embrace the human trait of laziness. By that I mean don’t pretend that you’ll always have the mental energy to think about savings and set money aside. Instead, take human nature out of the equation and automate your savings by pulling money into a high-yield savings account on your payday. I use Wealthfront myself. There are many options, but none of them are likely to be with your bank. The day you get paid, the money is taken out. You never see the funds in your bank account for more than a day.

It doesn’t have to be a lot – it should be an amount you can handle not having and won’t go “Ouch!” and re-think whether you should save it. Maybe it’s $50 a month. Automate it and pretend that account doesn’t exist. Ignore it entirely if you can. Do this for five years.

$50 a month over 5 years at 4% interest is $3381. Imagine yourself “finding” that money five years from now and being thankful to your past self for making that choice. What if you could save $100 a month? That’s $6763 after five years. Could you maybe do $300 a month? That’s $20,291 after five years.

Compound interest is nice, but what’s even more impactful is automating your savings and taking human nature out of the equation.

Our Lady Peace: Rockin’ like it’s the ’90s

While Our Lady Peace never got that big internationally, in the ’90s they were a mainstay of Canadian rock when I was in my 20s. I had a chance to see them live last month in Calgary with a friend and Raine (their lead singer) still has a great voice. I’m impressed as well with the microphone on the Pixel 7; it didn’t distort and recorded decent sound. 🤘🎸🎶

Young Men are Not OK

I’ve been on a bit of an “avoid CNN” bend for a while after you-know-what, but I’m a big fan of ProfG (Scott Galloway) and this video is absolutely worth watching if you have a son, brother, or husband under the age of 30 or so. As a dad to a teenage boy, I think about this kind of thing quite a bit.

The young men of America (and I’d add Canada in here too) are not OK. They are confused, broken, disillusioned, and it does not bode well for the future of either nation or the world.

And if the idea of being worried about the state of young men triggers your brain in a negative way, I’d encourage you to ask yourself why. As Scott says in this video, compassion isn’t a zero-sum game, and being concerned for the state of young men doesn’t mean you can’t also be concerned about other groups just as much.

Here’s the Washington Post piece written by Christina Emba that shone a fresh light on the issue.

How to fix the Tesla Text Receiving Issue

The first time my wife texted me while I was driving our new Model Y, I was baffled when, instead of the car’s text to speech software simply reading the message, it began reading me off her phone number, date, time, phone number, etc. This effectively made receiving texts impossible, making my experience as a Tesla owner much worse. I was confused at first, because the week before when driving our Model 3 this wasn’t happening. What was going on?

Here’s the root issue: as of May 2023, Tesla’s vehicle software does not understand RCS messages. That’s why instead of the car reading the text message, it reads the date/time/etc. effectively making it useless. This info is part of the header in the RCS message (think of it like an email). In our case, her phone app had a software update that made sending RCS messages the default. It had nothing to do with the Tesla car software.

Until Tesla supports RCS messages in their software, the only workaround is for the sender to turn off RCS messages to the phone number you as the Tesla driver are getting your messages on. This is done in the person’s messaging app, usually in the details of the individual person’s details.

For example, my wife uses Messages, Google’s texting app on her Android phone. If she looks at our texting entries in the app, goes into Details then selects “Only send SMS and MMS messages” and toggles that on, it will force “old” style texting and not RCS. Here’s what that looks like in the software:

Depending on the software the person texting you is using, there may be slightly different working, or possibly a global setting that applies to all messages sent from that phone.

Making this change 100% solved the problem for us and I hope it will solve the issue for you as well.

Sometimes it’s fun to be fun on Twitter

I know that Twitter is a vile cesspool full of anger, hate, and Russian trolls stoking fear and dissolution, cracking the very fabric of our society…but sometimes it’s also a fun place to interact with brands that have a sense of humour and hire funny people to do their social media. 😜 [Link to first Tweet]

Apple’s M1 Max CPU: Heat, Fans, and Silicon Voodoo I Don’t Understand

My first computer with an Intel 286 processor was three decades ago, and my last was the MSI gaming laptop I split the cost of with my son featuring an Intel Core i7-11800H. In between I’ve had various flavours of Intel and AMD CPUs, overclocked most of them, and all have behaved in basically the same way: the harder you push them, the more power they need, the more heat they generate, and the louder the fans get to keep the chips from heat damage. As the Mandalorian would say “This is the way.”

When I recently purchased my Mac Studio with the M1 Max processor (10 CPU Cores, 32 GPU Cores), it was my first foray into the world of Apple Silicon in the desktop/laptop realm (my M1-powered iPad Pro 11 doesn’t really count). I’d been using an aging Core i7 iMac workhorse from 2015 until this purchase, and it behaved like any other machine with an Intel CPU: max speed = heat + noise. h265 video exports from Final Cut Pro would take forever.

Enter the Mac Studio. It behaves in ways I don’t understand, seemingly breaking all the rules we’ve accepted as immutable over the past 30 years. For instance, when the Mac Studio is idle, the fans spin at around 1326 rpm. In a perfectly silent room, I can hear it – but just barely. At first this irritated me slightly because my 2015 iMac was 100% silent when idle. It’s certainly not loud — the fan on my Google wireless charging stand is louder — but I can hear it.

That slight irritation faded immediately when I put the M1 Max processor under load…because what I saw didn’t make sense.

System temps + fan speeds under load.

What you’re seeing above on the left is me using Handbrake to transcode a 50 GB 4K MKV file to a smaller h.265 4K 10-bit file. It’s punishing to the CPU — all cores are firing hard, but temps are only up about 20%…and the fan speed increased by a mere 12 rpm. This isn’t a one-off glitch either: I’ve done 50+ MKV transcodes on my Mac Studio and no matter how hard I push it, I never hear the fan get any louder. And the total power draw while under max load? About 52 watts. 🤯

Apple’s M-series silicon isn’t the best possible maximum performance silicon out there — the top-tier chips from Intel and AMD will match or beat it in some circumstances — but on a per-watt basis, and while staying cool and quiet…Apple has done something really special with their M-series chips and I’m thrilled with my Mac Studio so far.

It’s the guns. It’s *always* the guns.

Here we go again. Another day in America, another mass shooting. 😢 Below is something I wrote in response to a gun owner I know thinking out loud about solutions to the problem.

People buy guns because they are afraid and believe a gun will help them when they need it. A gun in the home is far more likely to be used for suicide or to accidentally shoot a family member then ever be used to “stop a bad guy”. Self-delusion is sadly common among gun owners.

A large number of guns are stolen every year from gun owners. Gun owners are a significant source of gun supply for criminals. These law-abiding gun owners are simply arming the criminals they’re trying to protect themselves from.

Buying a gun, any gun, simply helps fuel the gun industry that lobbies against gun restrictions and causes death and destruction in this country. The gun industry, and their puppets like the NRA, are a uniquely American monster that helps kill 45K+ people a year and wounds another 40K.

No other country has the same level of problem the USA has, but every country has criminals, mental health problems, etc.

What the USA does have is guns.

Lots and lots of guns.

And yet no matter how many people are killed every year, many Americans are puzzled by the source of the problem.

It’s the guns. It’s always the guns.

Moka the Friar

After much spiritual searching, my dog Moka has decided to begin her monastic life: I present to you Friar Moka.

Moka the Friar

(I don’t tend to post things like this often, but putting a little joy into the world is never a bad thing.)