8 Brutally Honest Truths You Need To Hear If You Want To Get Your Portfolio Together
By Roger Nusbaum, AdvisorShares ETF Strategist
I stumbled across an article titled 8 Brutally Honest Truths You Need To Hear If You Want To Get Your Stuff Together only there was another word instead of stuff. It wasn’t that brutal but can be applied to investing/retirement planning.
You’re going to regret how much time you spend on social media
I would tweak this one to be about spending less time listening to people like Jim Cramer and anyone else urging you to take action today based on one headline. If you have held any individual stocks for X number of years then obviously there have been periods where those stocks have outperformed and lagged. No stock can always be the best but if it adds value over the long term then selling it even if not much has really changed wouldn’t seem to be a good idea. Obviously, every so often something important does change and that would be a time to sell.
Your reactions are the problem
This is about behavior. To me this means knowing what you’re vulnerable to. I am a sucker for a good story, I’ve said this before. I realized this in 1990 working at Lehman Brothers. One of the other brokers was pitching some company that, while I don’t remember name, made some sort of plastic part that was essential to copy machines. I sat near this guy and heard the pitch every day and it sounded great. It didn’t end well, I didn’t have money to buy any but I thought it would skyrocket was shocked when it crapped out. We all have our vulnerabilities and you are less likely to be done in by them if you know what yours are.
The riskiest thing you can do is avoid risks
For investing purposes this might be better thought of as being about volatility. There’s not much risk of the S&P 500 going out of business like lottery ticket biotech or a mining company with one hole in the ground but it is a good bet that the SPX will cut in half again at some point. You’ll only permanently impair your capital owning an index fund if you panic sell and then watch the market go on to new highs from the sidelines. Owning a mega cap soda company or airplane maker or the like more likely exposes you to volatility not risk of being wiped out. Anything is possible but understanding the difference between risk and volatility is crucial.
You should always have enough money for what matters
I’ll tweak this one to always have your proper time horizon in mind. Over the weekend I talked to my 22 year old nephew who just graduated college, is starting his first job and he had questions about investing. He asked whether it was a bad idea to start now with the market at a high. I told him to bring up a chart of the S&P 500 and go back to October, 1987 and look at how much the market is up since then to today. “If you bought the day before the crash, where would you be now?” He said up a lot. “Thirty years from now you’ll be my age (I’m actually only 51) and I think I’m a young guy, where will you be 30 years from now?” He got the point.
People are going to hate you no matter what you do
Ehhhh, maybe useful for life, not sure what an investment corollary might be.
Blaming only makes you weaker
Blaming others for investing mistakes is a huge and a common behavioral flaw. You’ve read it here at least a hundred times; the market goes up most of the time, occasionally it goes down a lot and scares the hell out of a lot of people and then it goes on to a new high. The only variable is how long it takes. Whose fault is it if you panic sell? If you make active, narrow decisions in your portfolio, like sectors, niches or individual stocks, you are going to get some of those narrow decisions wrong. That’s just how it is. No one can be right about everything, no one.
People don’t think of you as much as you think they do
Again, probably useful in life but I’m not sure how to tie to investing. Maybe the silly notion of anthropomorphizing the market, calling it Mr. Market is all that is needed here.
Not even the perfect relationship is going to complete you
The perfect portfolio won’t be sufficient if you don’t have an adequate savings rate and live below your means. Having both these things (high savings rate, low spending) in place makes everything else in your financial life so much easier.