The new year is here, the Christmas ornaments are packed away, and we can finally get down to the business of making 2018 our best year yet. This is my own busiest time of the year, as updating every asset, calculator, and portfolio on the site with new annual data is no easy task. But while I keep calculating behind the scenes, I believe this is a good time to think big picture while things like New Year’s resolutions are top of mind.
What can you personally resolve to do in 2018 to become a happier and more productive investor?
Not sure how to answer that? Then let me offer a few simple suggestions.
Take a break from monitoring your investments
Are you the type of person who monitors their investments daily, reflexively checking the stock or finance apps on their phone for up-to-the-second updates on the markets and their current net worth? This type of information addiction is extremely common in the personal finance space, so you’re not alone. Heck — I’ve been there myself.
Now ask yourself this — does this habit make you a better investor? I can almost guarantee it does not.
You are most likely not a successful day trader, and even if you are I’ll wager good money that you’re also stressed out by the whole process. Constantly obsessing about financial returns is not at all productive. In fact, studies have shown that people remember the negative days more than the positive ones, meaning that the act of constantly monitoring investments nearly guarantees that your anxiety levels will cumulatively grow over time. Stick with that long enough and you’ll probably end up hating even the best investments, so it’s no wonder that people get impatient and make bad trades so often.
To counter that, I recommend a financial information diet. Want to try something crazy? Delete the stock app from your phone, as well as any other app that you reflexively use to monitor your investment returns too often. If you’re addicted to that information, it’s going to be really difficult at first but I promise you that you’ll be happier once the withdrawal symptoms wear off. Clear minds make for better decisions.
Read an investment book
The internet is full of great investing information these days, but there’s a distinct limit to the depth of knowledge you can gain via blog , message board, or social media. Want to really advance your investing wisdom? Rather than surveying the net for second-hand information on a certain famous investor you look up to, try going to the source and reading one of his or her books.
There’s so much more depth and context in a book than you’ll ever find in even the best summary. Personally, I think the most important thing I’ve learned from my various readings is not so much the math behind investing but the mindset behind each approach. Different people relate to different investing strategies, and the simple act of reading the reasoning behind a certain portfolio can make all the difference in the world between a confident investor and a reactionary market-chaser.
Not sure which book to pick up? Try browsing the various Portfolios, look for one that resonates with you, and find the associated book by the author. I’ve done my best to link to one on each portfolio page, and have also compiled them all in one place in the Portfolio Theory section of the site Library.
To start, just commit to reading one. I suspect that once you start thinking about investing from a more educated position, you’ll eventually seek out more.
Select a long-term investing strategy
If you’re just starting out I’m not suggesting that you’ll be able to do this right away, so let’s phrase this one clearly. Repeat after me:
“By the end of 2018, I want to be confidently invested in a well-designed portfolio selected for my personal financial and emotional needs.”
If you’ve already achieved that goal, congrats! But if you’re not sure, take that as a sign to start drawing up a map to get there. Whether you need to read up on the basics, browse portfolio options, visit your local library to learn more, customize an idea using the calculators, or maybe even consult a tax expert to help out, the simple first step is to set the end goal to work towards. Becoming an empowered investor is absolutely within your reach this year!
No more confusion, no more indecision, no more fear, no more doubt — make 2018 the year you learn about how intelligent asset allocation can protect and grow your money efficiently, effectively, and with minimum maintenance required. Portfolio Charts is here to help, but only you can properly manage your own life savings. Take charge!
Of course I understand that resolutions are made to be broken and even the most driven of us can eventually lose motivation. The beauty of a financial resolution, however, is the power of compound interest. Good decisions today can reverberate for a lifetime, so it’s worth the temporary aches and pains to get those mental muscles working. When in doubt, just aim small and follow through. Once you get rolling, the positive changes to your personal financial landscape will be huge motivation to continue. And if you do it right, you’ll look back this time next year and not even be able to recognize the person you are today.
Welcome to 2018, the year you truly take charge of your financial future!