Grow Your Portfolio the Intelligent Way

Good Night, Sweet Prince

By Jim Woods

“Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

–Shakespeare, “Hamlet”

“Good night, sweet prince.”

These were the last words I spoke to my majestic chow chow, Hemingway, as he was sent into his final sleep. One week ago, I was forced to let him go as his body had shut down due to a cancerous tumor.

To say that my heart still hurts would be a grotesque understatement; however, I have attempted to summon the courage to put on my bravest face, as I know that sadness, loss and pain are just part of the human condition. And if we want to be fully developed humans, we must be able to embrace the pain of that condition.

Easier said than done, I know, and if you have experienced the loss of a devoted pet, you know how I feel. You were also likely just reminded of that loss as a result of my admission, and for that, I apologize. Of course, if you were also reminded of the love and joy they brought to your life, then I shall also proudly claim credit.

So it is with life. The dueling forces of pain and joy seem locked in an epic battle for our souls. And while I want more joy than pain in my final ledger, I am not afraid of experiencing the pain.

You see, it is through the embrace of the contents of consciousness — be those contents happy or sad, ebullient or heartbreaking, exalted or disparaged, joyful or painful — that we discover who we are, what we are and what it means to be human. Moreover, the more aggressively we embrace the contents of consciousness, the fuller, more integrated and more complete we can be.

Now, in honor of my sweet prince, today I present you with a recollection of one of my fondest memories of him, a memory I wrote about in May 2021 in an article titled, “Get Yourself A Chow Chow.”

I think you’ll find it an enjoyable read, and I think you’ll see that the lesson here is that everyone needs to build a good team around them that “has their back.”

So, good night, sweet prince. May you continue to always have my back.

Get Yourself A Chow Chow

We all know the cliché that a dog is “man’s best friend.”

Well, let me tell you something, man needs best friends. In fact, as social animals, building a network of close friends and trusted associates is imperative to a life well-lived. Of course, finding those you can trust and that “have your back” isn’t always the easiest of propositions.

Yet when it comes to canines, generally speaking, if you treat a dog well, he/she will treat you even better. Like humans, dogs are social “pack” animals, and they are hardwired by nature to help protect their pack. That means they are hardwired by nature to be your friend and ally, and to have your back.

I saw this trait play out firsthand this past week, as my canine, a chow chow named “Hemingway,” put the smack down on a most unwanted intruder.

You see, I live on a small horse ranch in Southern California. In addition to horses, there is a barn, and around the barn, there are many feral cats and kittens. Yes, I feed them all, and so I am not surprised they keep coming around. But I like cats, so I choose to make sure they have plenty of food. Yet while I choose to feed and welcome the cats, I definitely do not welcome the coyotes that come around to try and make a meal of the felines.

A few days ago, Hemingway was barking rather aggressively, wanting me to let him outside. It was about 3 a.m., which is an unusual time for him to want to go outside. Still, I obliged his request, and as soon as I opened the back door, Hemingway sprinted outside and ran full speed toward the barn.

I had a flashlight handy, and as I shined the beam in the direction he ran off, I saw that Hemingway had cornered a full-grown coyote. Both sets of fangs were out, and I was about to witness some canine combat.

The next moment Hemingway bolted toward the coyote and knocked him against the side of the barn with a body blow reminiscent of a tackle from the great Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. After bouncing hard off the side of the barn, the coyote sprinted away from my property and into the cover of the early morning darkness.

I have seen no signs of its return since.

Your editor with Hemingway and my good friend/veterinarian extraordinaire Dr. Aiden Ables. 

This incident reminded me of the importance of putting people, or in this case a chow chow, on your “team” that can help you get through difficult, even combative situations. And while my chow was just being a chow, i.e., an aggressive and strong breed known for its powerful build and protective nature, he nevertheless lived up to his nature by kicking that coyote’s butt.

Because you see, in life, sometimes we need to kick a coyote’s butt.

Sometimes we have problems that require tough, no-B.S. action that must be taken to achieve a result. Many times, these are business problems, and at other times legal problems. Sometimes those problems are medical, relationship-oriented or family-oriented. And sometimes those problems are about investing.

That’s why it’s imperative that you build your own personal network of tough chow chows who have your back when the coyotes come calling.

So, make sure you have good friends, real friends, that can help pull you through the tough times. And in turn, be a good friend to them when they require some assistance. Because guess what: we all require some assistance at some point in our lives.

You also should make sure you have a cadre of professionals on your team who you trust to get you through the tough times.

For example, have a great lawyer on your team. I can tell you that I have never regretted spending money on a good lawyer, and you won’t either. Also have a good certified public accountant (CPA) or tax person on your team. Pay extra for them, because I guarantee you it will save you money in the long run.

Next, cultivate a personal relationship with your physician. A physician who knows you personally is likely to give you a little extra attention, attention that is required as we get older and as our medical needs accelerate.

And, of course, if you are having trouble with your finances, and especially if you are having issues getting the results you want from your investments, well, that’s what my newsletter advisory services are all about.

Finally, if you are in need of a protective dog that will fight off intruders, but will sleep lovingly at your side each night, while also looking like a real-life teddy bear, then do yourself a favor and get yourself a chow chow.

It might be the best investment you’ll ever make.


ETF Talk: Consider Low-Risk, Reliable Income Municipal Bonds

Government bonds have historically been sources of low-risk, reliable income for investors.

However, since the COVID-19 pandemic, the yields of government bonds have not been favorable, and rising interest rates have made those yields all the more unattractive. Yet, 2023 looks to be the year bonds make a comeback.

Bond yields have been on the rise and are likely to remain high through the first half of 2023. With these favorable conditions, it makes sense to explore opportunities presented by bonds.

One potential avenue into this market is the VanEck Long Muni ETF (MLN). This fund is managed by Van Eck Associates Corporation, and seeks to replicate the price and yield performance of the ICE Long AMT-Free Broad National Municipal Index (MBNL) as closely as possible.

MLN focuses exclusively on U.S. alternative minimum tax (AMT)-free, long-dated municipal bonds, while still trying to capture a full range of issuers and market sectors. The fund weights constituents by market value and mainly includes investment grade bonds with high overall credit quality.

Normally, the fund invests about 80% of its total assets in fixed income securities. The fund uses a sampling method in tracking the index, meaning that it will invest in a sample of securities that collectively have an investment profile similar to that of the underlying index.

In spite of its specifications, the fund boasts a diverse portfolio, with top holdings including bonds of The New Jersey State Turnpike Authority, The Massachusetts Development Finance Agency, the Kentucky Bond Development Corp and the State Of Illinois. Its investment pool is also attractive for specializing in areas that will always have a good degree of security.

Chart courtesy of

As of Feb. 7, MLN’s total returns have been at 2.81% for the past month, compared to 11.71% in the past three months and 3.76% year to date (YTD).

As with any investment, it’s important to consider one’s individual financial situation and goals carefully. Investors are always encouraged to do their due diligence before adding any stock or exchange-traded fund (ETF) to their portfolio.

As always, I am happy to answer any of your questions about ETFs, so do not hesitate to send me an email. You just may see your question answered in a future ETF Talk.


In case you missed it…

This Is What It Means

Hopes and fears
And chasing dreams
This is what it means
Smiles and cries
And making memories
This is what it means…

–Jim Woods, “What It Means”

There’s an old saying in the literary world that a man’s life is incomplete until he has tasted love, poverty and war.

Beginning with the latter, my closest brush came in January 1991. I was close to graduating from the U.S. Army Airborne School at Ft. Benning, Georgia, when the bombs began raining down on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. As it turned out, that conflict was so short-lived that I missed out on the active war leg of the complete life.

As for poverty, well, although I come from a modest middle-class American family, I would hardly say that qualifies as poverty by global standards. And aside from some lean, post-college days working at the financial newspaper Investor’s Business Daily, I also would have to say that poverty has mostly eluded me.

When it comes to love, I think this is where I’ve more than made up for any deficit in the other two complete life components.

Love of family, friends, career, music, literature, philosophy, nature, fitness, sport, combat and, perhaps most of all, love of learning. These are the animating forces at the core of my being.

That love runs particularly deep when talking about the love I have for helping investors better understand — and better profit from — the financial markets. In fact, you might say that this love is a form of war on poverty itself… the poverty of knowledge that keeps investors paralyzed into subpar performance.

Ironically, my love for this pursuit also encompasses my own desire to be a complete man.

In Ayn Rand’s magnum opus “Atlas Shrugged” (in my opinion the very best novel ever written), one of the heroes of the novel is asked, “…what’s the most depraved type of human being?”

The answer: “The man without a purpose.”

This notion stuck with me as a guiding principle when I first read the novel as a 20-year-old trying to sort out the world. And ever since I  digested this pithy profundity, I have set my life with “purpose” as a primary directive.

In The Deep Woods, my purpose is to shine a more luminous intellectual light on the issues that matter most to me, and that hopefully resonate with you. Sometimes those issues are economic, sometimes they’re social, sometimes they’re philosophic and sometimes they’re political.

Yet, every time, the issues are of personal importance to me, and achieving a better understanding of them is my purpose. And if you are reading this, I hope sharing my purpose with you has helped you better understand your purpose too.

Together, we can learn, grow, flourish and allow the very best within us to express itself — and we’ll do it all while having fun! Because when it comes down to it, hopes, fears, dreams, smiles and cries and making memories is really what it all means.

So, thank you for your time, attention and trust. I shall always value, cherish and respect them, and I will endeavor to always make this column worthy of you.


The Discomfort Paradox

“Paradoxically, the more we’re willing to be uncomfortable, the more ease we’ll find.”

–Seth Gillihan

During times of profound sadness, distress and loss, it’s very easy to fall into an abyss of discomfort. Yet paradoxically, if we are willing to embrace those feelings and recognize their existence, we can actually find that we are ok, and that the inevitable pain of life doesn’t have to be all encompassing.

Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote that you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my newsletters, seminars or anything else. Click here to ask Jim.

In the name of the best within us,

Jim Woods
Editor, Successful Investing & Intelligence Report

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