The Focused Investor 4 – Lily from Merry For Money on Confident Investing

This is the fourth post in Minafi’s The Focused Investor series. This series is a chance to hear investing opinions and takes that may differ from my own, but are core to someone else’s investment strategy.

Written by Adam on 2019-03-11. Blog, Investing. 1 comment. Find out how I make money.

This is the fourth post in Minafi’s The Focused Investor series. This series is a chance to hear investing opinions and takes that may differ from my own, but are core to someone else’s investment strategy.

Each Focused Investor article touches on 3 parts:

  • Who’s writing and why are they writing about investing?
  • What is one core investing opinion you believe in?
  • What advice do you have for someone getting started?

The goal of this series is to see what different investors feel is the most important core opinion about investing and share how they believe someone could get started today.


This week features Lily from Merry for Money (and The Frugal Gene!) who writes about how to have fun making money. Lily has an upbeat writing style that’s hard not to love. 

About Lily

Lily be water

We currently live in Seattle, Washington in Upper Left USA! I was born in China and came to the US when I was 9. I’m 27 and my husband is 31 and he’s a computer engineer in Big Tech.

We’ve been a hardcore saver since Day 1. I saved almost 50% of my income by myself with a below average income ($40k) in San Francisco!

I killed off about $20,000 in student loans in 8 months with 3 lower wage jobs: a content writer, evening job as a hostess, and filling out surveys online for $7.50/hr. I used to get dizzy headaches from staring at the screen.

But I’m proud of my journey and how far I’ve maneuvered through life despite my disadvantaged upbringing.

What is A Core Investing Opinion or Strategy For You?

I believe you should only do with your money what you’re comfortable with.


Our core investing opinion is only doing what makes us the most comfortable. We naturally imagine the worst outcome and decide if we’re OK with that.


I say this because based on our often changing financial circumstances, we tend to go from traditional Boglehead to tidbits of strategies you see typically in value investing because we’re comfortable with exploring. Part of this might be that we’re fairly young and we’ve only been invested for 3 years and it’s a little like dating.

Hey, I consider myself very lucky to have stumbled upon the Boglehead forums. Don’t tell anyone but I only stumbled it because I was trying to spell “Bobblehead” with my crappy phone swiping skills one bored afternoon. Hahahhaa…

Google remembered it and finally one day I went back to the site and started exploring.

My husband did not want to invest and I was trying to do the research myself to give him enough of an argument of why we should.

I started off with investing knowledge from a reputable enough source: The Boglehead Forums. I read a lot of the books in the recommended section and just about every “The Little Book That…” series. It’s hard for me to pick a favorite but my least favorite was “A Random Walk Down Wall Street.” For some reason, I couldn’t keep myself from falling asleep to that “classic.”

Cutting to the core, I think broad-based index funds should make up the foundation (and then some) of anyone’s portfolio.

For us, we started investing when I was 24 and he was 27. We have a little over $1 million invested today. We have a 90% stock mix with ¾ of that in Vanguard and Vanguard target date funds. We have about 10% of that in the tech sector stocks (FANG) so we’re a little weighted there. We have the remaining 10% of our net worth in government-backed treasury bonds.

I have a “for play” Robinhood portfolio account for fun with $50,000ish in a bunch of companies that appear to be solid companies with good books. Last year our Robinhood account beat the market by double but in 2017, we lagged a little behind overall market returns.

Boglehead is for everyone, especially beginners. I don’t think individual stocks should be a part of any investors portfolio until they have a semblance of their FI number.

The personal challenge here is being able to beat it in the long term. For me, it’s fun and I’m comfortable enough.

After getting to FI, you can play around with whatever “swims into your net” IF you enjoy it as long as you’re not overleveraged for your comfort. That’s when you start thinking of it as more for fun.

Who shouldn’t look into this topic?

People with unstable income and a haphazard safety net. Value investing is for people (typically either high income or decades of grinding) reached or is nearing FI and live a zen, boring life.

Good mental health and emotional control! There’s a lot of self-sabotage people do subconsciously.

Individual stocks (think like just 20! :O) are too volatile for any person. Being smart won’t save you. It’s not about intelligence. Smart people can be irrational too, just look at Issac Newton.

Why are you the one to write about this topic?

For the past few months, up until I became distracted with Merry for $, I was cracking into 3 books (at the same time) on the concept of value investing. Brain overload; but super addicting and fun.

It’s just something that stood out to me as I was doing preliminary research on the types of investors out there. I didn’t even know that Buffet is often considered the traditional value investor. it just made sense to me.

I’m the “Mr. Market is an emotional, bipolar monster” type of investor.  I believe people are super emotional. People = Market.

A few decades ago, the markets were more like a store clearance sale hosted by chimps. With the internet, things have gotten a little harder for the value investor but it doesn’t mean people will stop being people.

What would you tell someone getting started on this topic?  

You have to be a good contrarian, conservative, pessimistic, and have a knack for “value.” / be a cheap bastard.

The general consensus among hubby and friends is that I have those 3 characteristics by the buckets. You have to be a little weird…and a lot naturally frugal.

I thiiiink they meant it in a good way. 🙂

Why is this topic important to you?

I have average intelligence (at best pfft haha). There is nothing spectacularly special about me (nor my husband too.)

I just think for a girl who was born on the wrong side of the tracks, from some small fishing village, I have a lot to prove to the world.

That’s the thing that keeps me going – that and finding things that’s interesting to mess around with (LIKE BLOGGING!!)

So, of course, I want to…I’m so basic *sigh*…beat the market. Wouldn’t it be funny? This nobody, nothing housewife beat the market for 30 years?

Advice For a New Investor

If you were to start investing today with $10,000, what would you do?

I need more information on the person/profile that has the extra $10k to invest in. That’s going to depend on so many other things, like age, job/school, savings, family situation, dependents etc. I’m superrrr conservative unless there’s a million in the bank on lock.

If you were starting to invest today, what tips would you have for yourself?

You’re going to screw up in more ways than one no matter how much you’re taught or how educated you are. It’s like when people say “kids have to make their own mistakes, it’s the only way they will really learn it.”

Just let it happen.

One night, my husband read out some article on the “Top 10 Most Common Mistakes Investors Make” and I shouted out “HEY I GOT 8 OUT OF 10!!!”

So basic!

It’s just not possible to not make mistakes. Just as long as you learn and can recover from them.

If you’re not making investing a full-time obsession then it’s going to take you a few years to figure out what the heck you’re doing. It’s the Duning Krueger effect!

For more by Lily, check out Merry for Money, The Frugal Gene, or follow her on Twitter @Merry4Money / @TheFrugalGene.

Do you write about investing and want to contribute to The Focused Investor? I’d love to work with you! Check out The Focused Investor page to see how.


Hi, I'm Adam! I help millennials invest to reach financial independence sooner than they ever thought possible. Want to see what you could do to reach FI sooner? You're in the right place!

1 Comment

Why not add to the conversation below? Your voice is welcome!

Thanks for hosting this series Adam! I know it’s not easy directing this series ? Will there be more investor interviews as they come in?

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