Alan Donegan: Rebel Business School Co-Founder, Rebel Entrepreneur podcast host, Rebel Finance School co-founder and Queen's award winner. Marvel movie fan fanatic, breakfast lover and financial independent traveller
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Rebel Finance School 2022
Rebel Finance School (RFS) 2022 kicked off, went for 10 weeks and has finished since I wrote a Donegan update last. We ran sessions in Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil. We had over 2,500 people a week tunning in from around the world. I can hardly believe that.
Katie created a chart (obviously) so you can see where people came from!
The Facebook group for RFS grew to nearly 3,500 members and we feel so proud of the positive impact that the course has had. We felt a bit like our year was drifting until we got into RFS and started again, this gave us purpose helping people and making the course happen.
One of the biggest learnings from our travel is that purpose is such an important piece of happiness. It doesn't have to be a grand purpose, it can be hanging out with your family, getting fit or helping someone else. We have realised that having some sort of purpose is critical to long term human happiness.
Inflation and Argentina
As Katie and I have travelled around the world we have found it fascinating learning about different economies and countries. In Colombia we learnt and were shocked by the fact that we could pay in instalments for toothpaste or breakfast! I wrote an article all about the system and how it is out to get you!
In Argentina it has been another adventure learning about finance here. In the pandemic Argentina was struggling for money so they started to print more money (quantitative easing) just like a lot of other countries.
The world had supply chain issues and the amount of goods went down, competition for those good went up and there was more money in circulation. This meant that inflation in Argentina went through the roof. It makes UK inflation look like tiny in comparison.
As inflation was sky rocketing people needed a way to save money that wasn't in their currency. Their currency the Argentinian peso was devaluing so quickly their pesos were worth less and less on a weekly basis. Could you imagine if the pounds or dollars in your pockets had halved in value in mere months? What would you do?
Argentinian Inflation is heading towards 100% for the year. Meaning if you had bought a coffee for 250 pesos at the beginning of the year that same coffee would now cost you 500 pesos!
Their monthly inflation rate has been 4 - 7% all year long. Their money is halving in value.
If you had $10,000 pesos in your bank account at the beginning of the year those same pesos would now only buy you the equivalent value of 5,000 pesos! Talk about an incentive to never keep money in the bank.
So what do you do with your cash in an inflationary period?
The Argentinian decided they needed to save in a different currency, so they all started to put their money into more stable currencies like dollars and euros. In an effort to stop the flood of money leaving the country the Argentinian government put a limit on how many Euros or dollars people could buy officially each week!
This created a black market for US Dollars. You could get double the official rate by exchange your money in country. Katie and I found a way to get as much as $330 pesos for each £1 compared to the official rate of $120 pesos to the pound. This made our trip so much cheaper.
Our pounds were going twice as far in Argentina.
We made friends with Argentinians who told us what they were doing with the dollars they were buying on the black market. We were shocked to find they would keep them in shoe boxes under their beds.
They told us that a shoe box of US dollars under their bed was at least only devaluing by 10% inflation compared to keeping money in Pesos! HOLY MOLY that is a bad deal.
What to do in an inflationary period
Is cash king? really?
In an inflationary period, Cash is the WORST thing you can hold. It is literally devaluing before your eyes. The best thing you can do is get your money invested so it is at least working for you.
Yes, it has been a rocky time in the markets but if you own shares; broad based index funds then your money is deployed and working for you. Those shares are earning dividends from the companies you own which is reinvested and working for you.
If you are sitting on a pile of cash that isn't working for you it is being eaten alive by inflation. The best hedge we have against inflation is to own productive assets such as stocks & shares or properties that are rented out bringing in cashflow.
The problem with property is that you still need to do something with the cash that is being produced by those properties. Having your money invested is the best thing you can do at this time. Scratch that, it is the best thing you can do at any time it just becomes even more critical when inflation is rife.
If you want to know more about investing Katie and I have been working hard on a guide to investing starting at the beginning.
The back of an Argentinian Police Car
I was not expecting to end up in the back of an Argentinian Police car with Katie last night. I felt nervous getting in as the Policeman opened the door and put us into the cage. The door shut and even though we were there by choice it felt a little bit uncomfortable. Let's back up a little bit as to how we ended up in there.
Katie and I were out for a dinner at a vegan restaurant in Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires. We had just finished food and we were working together on a few bits and chatting. In front of me was my laptop and mobile phone as I typed and worked on the article to go with theinvesting fees tool Katie was working on.
We were inside the restaurant towards the back, near the kitchen surrounded by other dinners. The next thing I knew, a young man was coming up to the table trying to sell us something, which happens all the time in Argentina, but this felt different. He came so close to me and was quite forward. He put a pack of rubbish bags on the table and asked us to buy. Katie said "no" and as I watched he lifted the bag and tried to take my mobile phone; which he had put under it; with him.
I reached out quickly and grabbed his arm and the phone. He laughed and moved off which got me riled up and I stood up and grabbed out towards him. Him and his friend that had been behind him started to run and I chased them out of the restaurant shouting. I reached the door, and the staff asked me if I was ok, and I told them what had happened.
As I turned round the entire restaurant was looking at me, so I told them as well and told them to look after their phones.
Moments later the police arrived and started asking questions, the two lads had tried to steal from people out the front of the restaurant and more. I told my story and moments later the police showed me two pictures of the lads they had apprehended outside. It was the kid that had tried to steal from me!
I couldn't believe they caught them!
After a chat with the restaurant owner who explained to me that I could report them, but it probably wouldn't make any difference I decided it was important to stand up and report them. They shouldn't be allowed to get away with that. Our planned evening of a nice meal, some work and then a show when we got home took a turn for the adventurous.
The police chatted and then seemed to disappear. About 30 minutes later we decided to walk home so we paid and left. As we were approaching out house there was a police car with their blue lights flashing outside. As we got closer, I could see it was two of the same cops that were in the restaurant.
They told me I needed to come with them to file the paperwork for the incident and offered to give us a lift. Both Katie and I looked at each other nervously wondering whether to get in the car with them or not. Two armed cops and flashing blue lights in south America made us both nervous.
We got in and they took us back to the crime scene where two other cars and multiple officers were holding the two young men. They told us they were minors of around 14 or 15 years old and that they had been released from juvenile detention that afternoon. Within two hours of being let out they were back stealing again.
The policeman then asked if he could take my phone from me as it was evidence. Katie and I were a little confused. I had just thwarted two thieves and now the police wanted it as evidence that it hadn't been stolen?
I handed the phone over reluctantly and they went off. We got taken to the station and had a nice chat about life in Argentina with the police learning about their hours, where the best pizza in Argentina is, the culture and that they inherited pizza, pasta and bureaucracy from their Italian ancestors! We were in the station till midnight filling out paperwork and reports. Eventually the police gave my phone back and we were released.
Our second adventure with a mobile phone in South America! You can read about the first in Colombia here.
Drifting in Argentina
After a month in Argentina, I got a little down. Katie and I had some arguments. We caught Covid again! We had too self-isolate till clear. I had injured my knee in Bogota being swallowed by a man-hole cover and then really messed it up nearly falling off a mountain in the Andes.
My health was suffering. My mental health was suffering, and we weren't headed in the right direction. Have you ever felt like you are drifting in the wrong direction? Like things weren't moving for you? Maybe you are feeling that way right now as you read this?
I got to a place where I had had enough, and I wanted to make changes! I wasn't happy with my energy, happiness or state and things HAD to change.
The obvious next step for me was to break out the post it notes and do a current reality.
The areas of life
We worked through each one thinking what is and what isn't working. After this we each picked our top 3 areas, one positive, one negative and one of our choice.
We both pick independently so that we both get an equal voice in our decision making and the focus of our life. It is SO important to me that Katie get's equal voice and we work together on things.
We both picked exactly the same three areas, which surprised me and showed me how important they were. The first was health, we were both suffering. The second was happiness, whilst running Rebel Finance School we had stopped having frivolous fun and had just worked on our laptops every single day. The third was Katie's confidence, we both wanted her to feel more confident.
This exercise changed everything for us and got us to focus on the areas that had been neglected.
The next day we booked to move to Brazil, Rio de Janeiro and changed up everything.
You don't miss health till it is gone. I had always taken my unlimited energy for granted until I got injured. This had to change.
I went to the physio and started to heal my injuries. We started to run and walk along the beach every single day. We went swimming in the ocean at Rio every single morning. We focused heavily on eating less and healthily and my weight went down. I am down nearly 10kgs (22lbs) this year.
Energy started to come back up and I feel so much healthier. Katie finally achieved her 5-year goal of doing a chin up and she is so strong it is unbelievable.
Health is the foundation of everything. Without health you don't have the energy, the foundation to build anything else from.
What can you do to feel healthier this month? WHat can you do to increase your energy? How can you exercise more? Change your diet to improve energy? What can you do to feel healthier this month?
The Donegans make a distinction between work fun and frivolous fun. Working on our laptops, creating articles, building Rebel Finance School is fun and we LOVE IT. If we spend all day on our laptops helping other people we eventually get burnt out and need to do other things.
Frivilous fun for us is cycling along the beach, going to watch a football match, making food, going to shows, sitting in a cafe playing card games.
Sometimes we get so excited about helping others that we forget to do things for us.
We booked to go to Brazil and in the next month we tried capoeira, we did a Brazilian cooking class, we went to watch the champions leave of South America, Rio versus Sao Paolo, we did a cycling tour of rio and so much more!
Getting out in the sunshine, doing new things and exploring a new city change everything for us. Our happiness went up dramatically and we had so much more fun.
What can you do this week to have more fun? Play boardgames with friends, go read in the park, go for a long walk with friends?
Confidence is one of the nebulous things you can't really touch but it has a dramatic impact on your life in so many ways. If you wake up feeling happy and confident in the morning the world is a completely different place.
Both our confidence and happiness had suffered from injuries, covid, arguments and more and it was time to build it back up. We bought a book on confidence, we have been working through a relationship course together (because great relationships don't just happen) and we do book club together every single month.
This one is an ongoing journey. Infact all of them are. Health, happiness and confidence aren't one and done things. They are things you continue to work on throughout your life.
Where are you drifting? Where are you stuck?
I really hope this inspires you to get unstuck in an area of your life.
We all get to a point every now and again where we are drifting and we have accepted the way things are even if they aren't awesome. I had accepted lower health for a while and wasn't working on it.
I had to get a grip of myself and take action for things to improve.
My challenege for you this month is to look at your life and work out which area of life you are stuck in. Where are things stagnating? Where are things drifting?
Identify that area, turn it into a question that you can answer and start to work to improve things.
The extraordainry belongs to those that create it.
You can't wait for extraordinary things to happen you have to take charge and make them happen.
Next from the Donegans
There is so much going on at the moment and we have so much to share. Here are three important things coming up for you.
Deciphering a fund fact sheet: new workshop
New YouTube series: The 9 biggest money mistakes
10th Anniversary of Rebel Business School
It is also the 10th anniversary of Rebel Business School coming up! I can't believe it was 10 years ago that Simon and I ran the first ever Rebel Business School. In the last ten years this crazy idea that you don't need business plans and money to start a business has become a global movement. I am so proud.
To celebrate I have something HUGE for you coming up. Make sure you are signed up to the mailing list and I will tell you all about it soon!
Thanks for reading. Thanks for being a Rebel and let's get on with creating extraordinary!
Sending you lone and happiness from Peru where we are at the moment.
Alan and Katie