A simple approach to successful personal investing with the goal of generating a growing income from a portfolio including cash savings, shares, corporate bonds and government-backed investments, using online savings and brokerage accounts and shielding your investments from tax wherever possible.
A perennial problem for a DIY Income Investor is where to reinvest cash - be it straight income or the proceeds of a sale.
The search for a good home for your investment cash can take a while - and can cover the globe (if you're into the more exotic Exchange Traded Funds). But sometimes ideas for reinvestment come from closer to home: from the portfolio itself.
When is it right to follow a 'whim' - a 'spur of the moment' decision - and when should you exercise self-restraint?
I don't think there is an easy answer as our minds are quite mysterious in operation. Subconsciously we make decisions based on a whole range of built-in biases that pop into our conscious minds seemingly fully formed. On the other hand, the subterranean depths of our brains is constantly churning away at problems and sometimes a useful solution pops out.
So it is a dilemma: the decision that pops into your mind might be a poorly-thought-out psychological knee-jerk reaction or, then again, it may be a spark of a good idea.
If you call yourself an 'investor', this implies that you have a long-term perspective. By contrast, short-term dabbling in the stock market is usually labelled 'speculation'.
For whatever reason, the term 'speculation' usually comes with fairly negative connotations - and conjures up (at least for me) images of wide boys in suits with red braces. However, the objective is - one assumes - the same: to increase your overall net worth over time. It's just that the time-frame differs.
But, although I like to think of myself as an 'investor' - I have to face up to the fact that my investment style does incorporate an element of 'speculation': the bulk of the DIY Income Investor portfolio was bought in 2013 and 2014 - a speculator's time-frame.
Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs) are fairly exotic investment vehicles that offer tax incentives to invest in start-ups and unlisted companies, with the proviso that your money stays put for at least five years. However, VCTs have not interested me in the past, as - thanks to ISAs, SIPPs and tax allowances - I don't pay any tax on my investments and savings.
But what I didn't realise until recently is that you can also buy and sell shares in VCT companies - and some of these have really attractive yields.
My son has captured a huge spider in our bathroom and has adopted it as a pet (naming it Shelob). Although this behaviour is more than a little questionable, it did get me thinking...
Spiders have provided us with inspiration for thousands of years: there is something about their painstaking work building (and rebuilding) a web and their seeming unlimited patience waiting for a victim to get caught up in it. (Robert the Bruce is the most famous example). They lurk, unseen most of the time - that is until they are caught in the open, unexpectedly.
So, can spiders teach us anything about investing?
You've no doubt heard of lateral thinking but I do some of my best (?) thinking horizontally, lying on my bed looking at my laptop. Not good for posture, I know - perhaps that's why my back hurts?
But back to horizontal thinking: it's not like sitting at a desk, with so many distractions but rather it is almost Zen-like, as I can look at the trees out of the window. Almost day-dreaming - but allowing the subconscious to surface.
So, what does horizontal thinking tell us about the price of bonds?
It may seem off on a tangent - but I think the way you buy your weekly food shop may say a lot about your investment style. Buying things to feed yourself - to grow or maintain your body - is an essential life-skill; so, I would argue, is buying investments to grow or maintain your wealth.
Maybe thinking about one facet of your lifestyle might help the other? Many people would probably consider my own food purchasing style quite eccentric - but then maybe that goes hand-in-hand with investing style.
DIY investors of all flavours probably find it difficult not to check the latest prices of their investments - I know I have that problem. Most mornings I sit in bed, on my laptop, and wait for the London market to open - or more accurately, I wait for 30 minutes after the market opens, given the delay that is inherent with free-of-charge market data.
So, the annual holidays - being out of touch for weeks on end (this year, 12 days on a cruise around the British Isles) - is a bit of a challenge to this probably slightly compulsive behaviour. But being out of touch is like a digital detox - for a data junkie.