Up The Gains, Money Made Simple

Sammie Ellard-King (Up The Gains)

Note: transcription provided by Otter.AI, which is a technology company that develops speech-to text transcription and translation applications using artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Today we have Sammie Ellard-King, but he goes by Sammie. Based in the UK, and he’s the founder of Up the Gains, Money Made Simple. And he’s going to be talking about all about financial habits, finances, what’s going on with the markets today, saving and investing. So, Sammie, welcome.

Sammie Ellard-King: Hi, Chris. Thanks for having me.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, I know, we had talked backstage and we connected on PodMatch. And it’s been absolutely fantastic and fabulous to have you. So tell us more about your backstory, what got you started, and we’ll go from there.

Sammie Ellard-King: Yeah so I’ve always been a serial entrepreneur as such, probably quite badly in my younger years. So I started my own business when I was 18. I took my student loan money and started an event instead of spending it on cheap booze like everybody else in my university. So I’ve always had that habit in me. But I was one of the youngest heads of marketing in the UK at 25. So I work in hospitality, maybe in food, bars, music. So now, I co-own a company with a couple of friends of mine, we have a few venues in the UK. So I’ve been doing that for about 12 years now.

When it comes to investing, I’ve been investing for about eight years. I’m self taught, and have some very good friends that work for hedge funds. So I’ve been quite lucky to have some good teachers along the way. I got looped into some pretty good email chains, etc, which was good back in the day of picking up some stock tips. But, I’m massively self taught. And, that’s what I really preach. Basically, about six years ago, I started getting my family into this, and they got their friends into this, from that, and friends of friends and their friends of friends. And during the pandemic, when we were sitting around there was all of this time. And so I started a WhatsApp group, and it grew from about 10 people all the way up to 250, which is the limit you could have in the group. So it literally couldn’t let anybody else in. So I realized I was like, hang on, I’m not making any money out of this and spending all this time messaging people back and like getting them set up on investment accounts and picking funds for them based on what their preferences were, etc. And I was like the one, there’s a business here surely.

So I started Up the Gains, Money Made Simple, which is a website, which is dedicated to beginners, mainly, but equally as well as intermediate and more advanced levels too. The stock market; I mean, their terminology goes on for days, right, there’s always something you don’t know. So we really try to cover every broad topic from investing, funds, what type of accounts are good for you, passive income ideas, budgeting, saving, you name it, the full personal finance spectrum to really kind of improve people’s lives. And working in hospitality is quite unforgiving. you send a lot of people home drunk, and you’re only as good as your next take. You’re always thinking, if we open when we open the doors tomorrow, we’re going to be as busy as we were yesterday, we’re going to be able to keep the lights on. Now, that’s stressful. But doing this is helping people and changing people’s lives financially will live with me forever. So that’s kind of really my ethos.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, that’s a fantastic backstory. Today I’m based out of the US so, you know there’s just blood on the streets you look at these stock tickers. Feds like trying to decrease demand so they’re crushing the markets. So someone who’s been in the bear markets, kind of can weather it out. They’ve been through it. With someone that’s new, what do you tell them about our current times?

Sammie Ellard-King: I go back to one simple mantra. I mean, look at the VTI, look at the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index. It goes one way, it goes up. It goes down, but it goes back up, and it goes up again. and if you stretch that out for the last 70 years, yes, there’s been multiple drops. But it always comes back. And sometimes it’s taken two years, sometimes five years, and 2008 took a long time to get your money back. But it goes back up. So dollar cost averages in every month, set yourself a budget, put that money away, put it into the stock market, and you’ll thank yourself later. If you want to be smart about it, buy less when the markets are up and buy more when the markets are down. Personally, that’s paying off for everyone since the beginning of time. If you’ve been a stock investor. So don’t panic, these things happen in a very normal way, it’s a cycle, and where will there be brighter days ahead? Fingers crossed.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: So we have a macro environment? One thing, for beginner investors, how can they get started? What are some things that they can do like, either budgeting apps, or creating budgeting, better savers, investors, tell us more?

Sammie Ellard-King: It’s a good question. To be honest with you, I think you should read The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins. I think that’s the first thing you should do, that really changed my life. And, and realistically, you shouldn’t be investing unless you’ve cleared your debt. My story comes from 20,000 pounds, $30,000 worth of debt, up to financial freedom. So, for me, it’s, that’s your first port of call, clear debt. Get yourself back to the zero mark net zero, that’s where you want to be before you start investing in the stock market.

Utilize technology, there’s some fantastic apps out there now that can with AI, they can take a look at your income and your spending, and then predict how much you’re going to have to save each month. And perhaps some things you should probably cut out. And once you do a budget, I’ve done one budget in my life, I did it once. And I edit it every three, four months. Now, some people get meticulous with it and go day by day, but don’t do that. You’re never going to enjoy it. Like there’s no point, especially if you’re not somebody that actually enjoys numbers and ticking off things and like, just get on with your life. Do it once, but when you do it, you will identify things on that list guaranteed. You’re looking at it and going, Do I really need to spend 50 pounds a month on doing that? Do I really need all those coffees? Damn, I spent 120 pounds on Uber last month, what am I doing, like I could have walked. So there’s so many things that you’ll see.

And once you highlight these things, I guarantee you’ll find an extra 5–10% of money that you can either pay off your high interest or get started investing. And if you want to get started investing, you don’t have any any idea what you’re doing open a stocks and shares ISA account, a 401k or a SIP in the UK, the same thing, and buy the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index every single month, or the S&P 500 or just a straight index fund. And then whilst you’re doing that, over that time period of say, the first 12 months, teach yourself about individual stock picking, how to look at a company and assess their financials and understand what the fundamentals are and where their business is going and what a moat is and all of these types of things which will be valuable for you, if you’re a long term investor. Teach yourself in time but don’t put pressure on yourself, you don’t have to go full tilt day one, stock picking and options trading and all this type of stuff. You don’t need to do it. So don’t put the pressure on yourself to do it. But I have the belief, you need to be invested in the markets if you really want to get yourself out and financial freedom and I’m sure if you’ve listened to this podcast that you’re somewhere I don’t know along that journey already. So yeah.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Nice. And so you talk a lot about things like saving, budgeting, what are some top life hacks that can change your financial habits?

Sammie Ellard-King: Oh, good question, Chris. Really good question. Do you know what it is? It’s about investing in yourself as well. You are investing in the stock markets, fantastic. But if you’re not investing in yourself, then I don’t see how you can ever really get yourself out. Because the thing is, I do this in my own hospitality business and we invest in people, when we bring people on them. And they work for us, we give them 500 pounds a year to buy, which is $600, for example, a year, to invest in a course in something that they want to do. So we’re improving them as people.

So, for example, right, like our finance manager took a cooking course, because he’s 26 years old and burns toast. So this guy cannot cook to save his life. Right. So he went on a cooking course. And that forwarded him as a person. What that does is bring people forward, they will constantly then want to push themselves in other areas that they’re not so good at. And they want to learn, and I think learning is the best thing you could possibly do. It’s the best life hack in the world and never ever stopped learning.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, any other ones besides learning and investing in yourself?

Sammie Ellard-King: Do you mean more, like passive income stuff?

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Like, so for example, like budgeting hacks, or like, any blogs, podcasts, websites?

Sammie Ellard-King: Good questions. Yeah, absolutely. So one of the big things that I do is, I have three bank accounts. So back in my 20s, I was useless with money. Like it came into my wallet and went out faster than it came in. So for me, it was really important to [do that]; if you’re bad with money in any way, or you can’t budget, then take out a savings account and get the debit card and cut it up in front of yourself. Now, I find that really powerful, because you’re thinking you’re looking at it going if everything I put in there, I’ve actually got to go to branch, and who the hell goes to the branch these days, I mean, nobody goes to the branch these days. Don’t download the app, don’t even sign up for telephone banking, like do not give yourself the opportunity.

And then each month when that money comes in, you pre populate the amount so you know your percentages. So we know, there’s a lot about the 50–30–20 strategy. We totally agree that, we try to get our readers to 40–30–30. And that last 30, 15% savings, 15% investments. And we’re sort of as soon as that money comes in you pre populated that money and that money goes into that savings account, you cannot touch that money. And that’s your emergency fund, you’re only going to get it when you need to. And that’s really powerful. And that’s a step one habit I like to do with people, because that really takes the viewpoint of money into a different realm. They’re looking at money thinking about it totally differently. So three accounts. So yeah, one for savings, and then one for high yield savings as well. But you can have access to that one, that’s okay. Because you can’t get access to it anyway without applying. So, it’s about setting yourself some barriers, if you’re not that great with cash. And that’s what we try to teach our readers from the start.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah. And so let’s talk about the stock market. And you mentioned you have a lot of readers, and you write a lot. So for beginners. I mean, the best time to get in is during bear markets or downturns and recessions, that’s the best time to like reading and studying. And so the best thing is yourself, so how can beginners start to educate themselves so that they can navigate the stock market for the future?

Sammie Ellard-King: I’m a big fan of audio learning, you know that right now. there’s podcasts that we’re on today. There’s some fantastic ones out there. I love them. The Motley Fool Money from the US is fantastic. But I also love Panic with Friends by Howard Linton, who is a venture capitalist out of Phoenix. Such a brilliant podcast. I turn like the commute into work; I take the train into central London every day, it takes me an hour, an hour there an hour back, and I have a podcast in both times, and I’m learning right and during that time about the markets what’s going on and allows me to keep my finger on the pulse. Discussing earnings reports on The Motley Fool, I love it allows me to, to really know what’s going on. And it’s good because these guys are experienced people, some of them have been in the markets for like 30–40 years, they’ve seen more things than you can ever imagine.

So, listening to them intently as a beginner is a great place to start because, you’ll start you’ll start hearing them talk about, hey, the PE ratio is flying high at the moment. And you’re like, oh, cool, ya know, I read that in that article one time, I didn’t know what that is. Now I know what that is. I’m a big fan of reading something then listening and reading it back to myself because it’s like cementing it. Right? So you’re hearing things from two different channels. So yeah, so I’m a big podcast fan, and I absolutely love it. We’ve got a really good one here in the UK for you Americans, you should check it out. It’s called Opto Invests. And to really young guys, they worked for a big investment firm called AJ Bell. It’s really, really good. I mean, they have US investors, British investors, European investors, all of their venture capitalists, and are very data driven, as well. So I find that that’s my much more my techie analyst style podcast, where I get really deep into macro trends etc. And I love that.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, I can tell the passion and the enthusiasm in your voice for finances. So another area that you focus on is teaching people how to become a top investor. Talk more about that?

Sammie Ellard-King: Yeah, so there’s steps you can take when you’re a beginner, and that’s fine. We’ve been through that. But individual stock picking is really where it’s at. I personally split my two accounts. I have general investment stocks and shares where I do my individual stock picking, and in my pension, that’s where I have my funds. So I have a lot of fun in my stocks and shares. I think it’s about setting out. If you’re like me, I’m in my early 30s. Right , I’ve got a good 20–30 years before potentially being forced to retire. So let’s have some fun, right?

I love investing in companies that are changing the world now, for me, I’m big on cloud right now. I’m very, very deep in FinTech. I love fintech. I’m unfortunately a soft SoFi holder, which has taken an absolute beating in the last 12 months, but I’m holding on because I think it’s a great business. But I’m looking for companies that are changing the world. So these guys, they might have been hit last 12 months. But now is an unbelievable time to be picking up some of these growth names. And I really do believe if companies like cloud, if the FinTech software solutions, artificial intelligence, quantum computing is another one that’s come out of nowhere. These types of businesses are going to be the leaders of tomorrow. So it’s a great time to invest. Yeah, if you’re a more experienced stock buyer, I’d be looking into some of these names. 100%.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah. Nice. You talk about the use of budgeting apps, investing apps. And how, I guess, how investing small amounts can regularly make a fortune. Tell us more about that?

Sammie Ellard-King: Yeah, so one of the big things that we talk about, is probably the first thing that I try to make people understand is about compound interest. If you’ve never invested before, but equally as well, a lot of people who are invested don’t know what compound interest is. And that’s the first thing, if you are literally, when you begin and you regularly dollar cost averaging into the market, even with a low amount, you’re pushing what I like to call the snowball off the hill, and it slowly starts rolling down. And every time you invest, you’re giving it another little shove, and eventually, it just starts rolling, and it gets bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger. And the more snow you can throw at it, which is the more money you can put in, dollar cost average, the bigger it’s gonna get.

And over time, it just grows and grows and grows and grows. And that’s what investmenting does, you should be making, sort of 7% adjusted for inflation a year and so if you start adding that up, that’s a decent rate of return over a long long period of time. So even investing something like $150 a month, which is, let’s face it, a lot of us can make that investment and if you just want to dip your toes into the market just to see whether or not it’s going to work out for you, that’s what I would do. I would start with something small that you’re not going to miss that much. You might spend the night with your buddies. And that’s like, that’s easy to put away. You just put it away and then you think okay, cool, okay, this is working out. I’m gonna double it. I’m gonna double down. I’m gonna go for it. You put up to 300 then next year, you might put up the fringe and 50 or 400. if you get a raise or a bonus, you might put that away. And all of these little things you are chucking snow at the snowball. Warren is getting bigger and it’s moving and it’s moving. And I think that is so powerful. And that’s something that everyone should be aware of.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: is nice. Yeah. And then and then. And then what are some of the best books investors should read to create lasting wealth.

Sammie Ellard-King: I mentioned my favorite one earlier. How to Teach Financial Independence and Retire Early was one of my favorites. It’s actually an audiobook by JD Roth, I’m actually signed up to his newsletter, he’s still going, by the way, like, he’s an incredible man, I would sign up to his newsletter, he sends, like a market newsletter out. But it’s quite funny with it, makes a bit, which is good fun. But I would seriously suggest listening to that, because it’s 10 life lessons as well as an audio book.

So you can stick it on on a commute before you go to bed or while you’re working out or something like that, and it will change the way you look at things. He was $130,000 in debt, and is now financially free. And his net worth is 1.6 million, and he goes all around the world talking about it. And he talks about that journey and what he did. And I really look up to that story, and actually resonates really well with my own story. Slightly a smaller amount of debt. But the same goal, so, yeah, hopefully, we end up like him. So I would highly suggest checking that one out.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Nice. Nice. Yeah. So we’ve come to the end of the podcast. You’ve given a lot of information, a lot of wisdom, and love gems. Some listeners may be interested in going to your website, reading about you, contacting you or working with you. So how can they do that?

Sammie Ellard-King: So our website is UpTheGains.co.uk. We’re also on Twitter and Instagram, @UpTheGainsMoney and come say hi. And check it out. If you want to sign up to our newsletter, we send out one a month. We tried to pick a passive income tip that we think is really cool. And we send you some good ways of doing that as well. So we try to comment a little bit on the market and give you a few nuggets that we’re thinking about as well, perhaps something that we’ve added to our portfolios or we’ve sold.

So we are really open with our portfolio. You can see it on our website, too. You can check out what we’re investing in. We’ve listed our top 10 Holdings. And if you really want to check out my story a bit more, I have put out a book recently called How to go About Investing Money, a Beginner’s Guide. So go and check that out. It’s $9.99, so $12 for the US guys. But it’s very US centric as well. And what we talked about so it definitely goes over the pond quite a bit. So yeah, that’s us, Up the Gains.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah. Nice. Any last minute words of advice before we call it a day?

Sammie Ellard-King: Oh, yeah. Just don’t panic. stay invested. You know. Think about why you got in there in the first place. It is probably a great company you bought if you’re thinking about selling it, and it’s got good fundamentals. Don’t keep it and buy more.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yes, nice says I love that. Yeah. So to all the listeners on the podcast, all of Sammie’s references and links and resources will be included in the show notes. And Sammie, we look forward to having you as a future guest on the podcast.

Sammie Ellard-King: Thanks, Chris. It’s been a pleasure. Cheers.

Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Many thanks again for being here. If you’re new, you can find me online at Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD, where I have links to other episodes or links to online resources that will support you on your financial literacy journey. I’ll see you there in on next week’s show. While I bring you thoroughly vetted information on this show regarding a variety of financial topics, I cannot promise you a one size fits all solution. This is why I caution you to continue to learn. Educate yourself and seek professional advice unique to your situation. If you want to talk to me, I welcome it. Please reach out via my website or email at Chris@drchrisloomdphd.com. I read and personally respond to all of my emails. Talk soon!

Editor’s note: This transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity.

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