Making smart investment decisions is hard. The market is complicated and volatile, and it’s easy to get swept up in the hoopla of financial headlines, talking (or barking) financial media figures (Jim Cramer comes to mind), and just the general bad news that permeates all investment news cycles.
However, if you follow these Eight Timeless Principles of Investing, you’ll be able to make sounder financial decisions that will last a lifetime.
Focus On What You Can Control
While you can’t control market movements, business decisions, economic events, politics, and interest rates, many investors react emotionally to these things. You must learn how to control your emotions and reactions so that when the inevitable happens (and it will happen), your portfolio doesn’t make you go into cardiac arrest.
If you focus on what you can control, and let the rest of it go, you will have an easier time staying in the game.
You can control how much you allocate to stocks and bonds, the industries, and sectors that you invest in, and the companies you choose to buy. Most importantly, you can determine when to buy, hold or sell those investments.
Here are the key reasons to focus on what you can control:
- You’ll gain confidence in your investing abilities.
- You’ll save money on transaction costs (you won’t be constantly buying and selling instead you will have a determined strategy guided by a financial plan).
Put Time On Your Side
In The Millionaire Next Door, Thomas Stanley and William Danko write that “Long-term investing will generally outpace inflation.” They cite a study that showed that over a 20-year period, the S&P 500 Index returned 9.9% per year, while gold was down 0.4% per year and bonds were up 5%.
This doesn’t mean you should invest for the long term only!
It’s important to keep in mind that investing for the short term can still be profitable as well if you’re disciplined about it (more on this later). Overall, if you want your money to grow faster than inflation over time and have an understanding of the risk—particularly market risk—investing for the long haul is usually your best bet.
Tune Out The Noise
It is important to tune out the noise because it drives fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
News headlines will create anxiety resulting in a desire to chase stock market returns. Information overload will result in faulty investment decisions. Tune out the noise so you can live your life and focus on the future.
Many of us have heard the phrase “Don’t believe everything you hear” or “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Those are some of life’s great truths, especially when it comes to investing. The investment news media is sometimes described as the “financial entertainment complex,” and there is certainly a lot of entertainment value in it! There are plenty of investment and financial personalities who love to make bold statements about what the market will or will not do next.
Here are some timeless principles you should keep in mind as you invest:
- The market is not the economy. The stock market rarely reacts rationally to economic events, even major ones.
- Fundamentals drive long-term performance. Don’t invest based on fear or greed—invest based on fundamentals and long-term results.
- Based on history, markets always go up eventually. There are no permanent bear markets.
- There is no such thing as market timing. You can never be certain about where the market is headed in the short term, even over a few years. Rest assured, no advisor or media “guru” can either.
Don’t Try To Time The Market
- No one can predict the future. There are no guarantees when it comes to investing. Even mutual fund managers, stock pickers, and Wall Street analysts cannot accurately predict which companies will outperform over time.
- Today’s winners may be tomorrow’s losers. You don’t want to make an investment decision based on what’s happening now. If you’re buying a stock because everyone else is, that means everyone else thinks it’s going up—but there are always new people coming in as old ones leave. The more popular something gets, the harder it is to maintain a good price/performance ratio unless there is a news event that affects all stocks at once (which has happened).
- Buy low and sell high. This isn’t just a catchy phrase; it really does mean something important if you’re trying not only to keep your money safe but grow your assets as well. A prudent investment strategy coupled with a financial plan can help you protect and grow your investments in all market environments.
One of the most popular investment strategies is called dollar-cost averaging (DCA). Dollar-cost averaging involves buying a fixed amount of an asset over time, regardless of its price. This strategy allows you to buy more shares when the price is low and fewer shares when it’s high. One of the benefits of dollar-cost averaging is that it can help you avoid trying to predict the stock market’s future direction.
Understand All Forms Of Risk
Understanding risk is not just about market risk, but all the different risks that are present in investing such as market risk, political risk, inflation risk, etc.
The risks of long life span and inflation are often overlooked by investors who believe market returns will lead to growth over time, but there are other risks to consider as well. For example, healthcare costs continue to rise faster than inflation or wage increases, so those costs could eat into your retirement savings if you don’t plan. Not to mention the high prices of long-term care that most families will face in retirement.
There are means to measure risks when it comes to investing. One way is to use the standard deviation, which measures how far your investments move from their average return. A lower standard deviation means less volatility. Another way is to look at the historical returns of similar assets and compare them with your portfolio’s current holdings.
Avoid The Emotional Roller Coaster
If you’re an investor, you should try to avoid the emotional roller coaster.
- Avoid becoming the DALBAR Investor. The DALBAR investor is related to the QAIB Study from The DALBAR Research Institute. As DALBAR points out: “Since 1994, DALBAR’s Quantitative Analysis of Investor Behavior (QAIB) has measured the effects of investor decisions to buy, sell and switch into and out of mutual funds over short and long-term timeframes. These effects are measured from the perspective of the investor and do not represent the performance of the investments themselves. The results consistently show that the average investor earns less – in many cases, much less – than mutual fund performance reports would suggest.”
- Poor investment decisions are the result of unmanaged emotions. Emotions are powerful forces that affect every aspect of our lives and often lead us to make poor financial decisions. These can include buying high and selling low, reacting emotionally rather than logically, and allowing fear or greed to drive your decisions instead of common sense and logic. Another common example is letting your tax situation solely drive investment decisions. As the previous point illustrates when we are driven purely by emotions, the typical outcome is frustration and low investment returns.
Kick Up The Savings
This might sound obvious, but it’s important not just in terms of what percentage of your income you save each month, but also how much. A solid, prudent financial plan can help you to determine just how much you need to be saving to meet your goals.
There are two types of savings: short-term and long-term. Short-term savings refers to money that you know will be spent within a year or two, such as college tuition or a new car purchase. Longer-term savings includes retirement accounts like 401(k) plans or IRAs (individual retirement accounts), which may be decades away from being tapped into.
A financial plan can help you calculate how much money you have saved for each type of account—short-term and long-term.
Delegate The Details To A Financial Planner
A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ is a professional who helps you make financial decisions. They can help with investment planning, retirement planning, estate planning, college planning and more. A CFP® is a fiduciary and has a duty to act in your best interest. Lucky for our clients, Ballentine Capital Advisors has professionals to help you with anything that comes up in life.
By following the Eight Timeless Principles of Investing, you’ll be able to make sounder financial decisions that will last a lifetime. Our mission is to help you grow, protect, and pass on your wealth. We want you to be able to enjoy the benefits of your hard work for decades to come.
Have a great weekend!
Source: Ballentine Capital Advisors
Golf Tip of the Week
How to Hit a Bunker Shot: A Simple 6-Step Guide
Bunker shots are perhaps the most uncomfortable shots in all of golf, especially for higher handicaps and new golfers. It’s one of the few shots that require a different — and in some ways, opposite — technique to what you’re used to. But the important thing to remember with bunker shots is that most of your work is done before you hit your shot. Make those early adjustments, and everything else starts falling into place. — Joe Plecker, Director of Instruction, Landings Club, Savannah, Ga., Golf Digest Best in State Teacher
The Bunker Shot Guide
- Weaken lead hand grip
- Add more knee bend
- Sternum behind the golf ball
- Anchor weight on the lead leg
- Hit sand first, golf ball second
- Extend down into the sand
Bunker Shot Step #1: Weaken lead hand grip
Weakening your lead hand grip — which means rotating your left hand to your left (for right-handed golfers) is the first critical step of hitting a bunker shot. I like to call this my finesse grip, because positioning my hand like this keeps the clubface more open through the forward swing. It prevents the clubface from closing, which helps the ball fly higher and land softer.
Bunker Shot Step #2: Add more knee bend
Getting your legs, a little lower to the ground helps get the shaft a little flatter, which helps make your wrists loose and active. Bringing your body’s center of gravity closer to the ground will help you swing the clubhead under the ball. We’ll see why that’s important in the next steps.
Bunker Shot Step #3: Sternum behind ball
Pointing to the center of your chest is important here. That’s because I’m using my sternum to represent the bottom of my swing. I want my sternum to be directly behind the golf ball. By doing that, I’m ensuring that I’m going to be hitting the sand behind the ball first.
Bunker Shot Step #4: Weight on lead leg
I like to consider my lead leg (left leg for right-handed golfers) the anchor to my swing in the bunker. Golfers who struggle in bunkers often have a lot of movement from side to side. This changes the low point of their swing and makes it easy to hit blades and chunks. Once you’ve set your ball position with your sternum behind the golf ball, shift as much weight as you can onto your lead leg. Keep it there.
High Chip Step #5: Hit sand before ball
I’m making a practice swing here, but you can see the point I’m trying to make. When the time comes to execute your shot, your sole intention is to hit the sand before the golf ball and let the clubhead arc under it.
High Chip Step #6: Extend down
Once you’ve made your setup adjustments, you can swing away. I want to hit the sand before the golf ball, and the thought that will allow me to do this is the feeling of extending down into the sand with my arms.
Tip adapted from golf digest.comi
Recipe of the Week
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 red bell pepper, cleaned, seeded and cut into strips (6 ounces)
- 1/2-pound thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 cup sliced button mushrooms (4 ounces)
- 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in 1/2 (6 ounces)
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
- 1/2 cup 1 percent milk
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, dissolved in 3 tablespoons water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 large carrot (6 ounces) peeled and sliced into strips with a peeler (about 2 cups carrot ribbons)
- 3/4-pound whole-wheat linguine
- 1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup shredded basil leaves
- Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook garlic until soft, about 1 minute. Add peppers and cook until they begin to soften at about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, asparagus, and tomatoes and cook until softened an additional 5 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute more. Add chicken stock, milk, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook until liquid has thickened slightly about 5 minutes. Stir in carrot strips.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Toss pasta with vegetables and sauce. Add pasta water, if necessary, to loosen the mixture. Serve garnished with Parmesan, parsley, and basil.
Recipe adapted from Foodnetwork.comii
Health Tip of the Week
Don’t Make These Morning Health Mistakes
Hit the Snooze Button
That extra 15 minutes will help energize your day, right? Wrong. You’ll get better rest if you get up and go to bed at the same time every day. Groggy in the a.m.? Try using a sleep tracker. This wearable device can tell when you’re in a light stage of sleep and wake you when it’s easiest to get up.
Stay in the Dark
It’s tempting to stay in the quiet dark of your room with the shades drawn in the morning. Don’t do it. Daylight helps your body set its clock. That helps you sleep better and helps your body fight infection and inflammation. Getting outdoors in the sunlight helps you make vitamin D, think more clearly, and exercise more. It can even make you happier. So, open those shades and greet the new day.
Sometimes it just feels so good, especially when you have the time and you’ve been short on sleep. But the best way to improve your sleep over the long term is to keep a regular bedtime schedule. That means you get up at the same time every day, even if you had a late night — and yes, that includes the weekend.
Shoot Out of Bed Too Quickly
When you go from lying down to standing, gravity sends blood rushing to your legs, which can drop your blood pressure suddenly and make you feel a bit woozy. It can even make you pass out. Sit up slowly and pause at the edge of the bed to give your body a few seconds to get used to the idea, especially if you noticed some lightheadedness in the past. It’s an easy precaution that could save you from a serious fall.
Ditch Your Workout
Regular exercise helps your sleep, weight, heart, and mood, among many benefits. You may be more likely to stick with exercise if you do it first thing. It could even make it easier to control what you eat throughout the day and maintain your weight. Plan and put your workout clothes out the night before.
Skip Your Coffee
If you usually have a couple of cups of joe in the morning, skipping it can leave you groggy. You may not concentrate as well, and you might even become very tired with a severe headache, nausea, and flu-like symptoms. If you’re trying to cut back on your caffeine, do it slowly to avoid these responses.
Forget Your Teeth
A sticky film called plaque forms on your teeth each night. If you don’t brush it off in the morning, it can start to harden into stuff called tartar that you can only get rid of at your dentist’s office. If plaque and tartar are around too long, they can lead to swollen or bleeding gums, cavities, bad breath, gum disease, and other health problems.
Brush Right After Coffee
It’s the acid in coffee. So you really shouldn’t brush right after any acidic food or drink. For example, some people like to drink water with lemon in the morning. The acid weakens tooth enamel, and brushing too soon can remove it. Simply brush your teeth beforehand or wait 30 to 60 minutes for the acid to fade from your teeth.
Check Your Email
If you constantly check digital devices, email, and social media, it can cause stress and anxiety. For example, you may feel more pressure to start work earlier if you check your email first thing. Take some time in the morning to stay disconnected from digital media like email. It may take some effort at first, but it can make you happier and may even help you get more work done in the long run.
Start Your Day Without a Plan
If you start your day without a thought as to why you do what you do, you may lose sight of what you’re trying to achieve and what gives your life meaning. Whether it’s work, family, or lifestyle, it’s important to figure out what’s most important to you and make sure the things you do each day help you get there. Set priorities, make a list, and check your progress at the end of the day.
Dwell on the Day’s Problems
Once you’ve got a plan to tackle the day’s problems, let them go and take a moment to be grateful for the good things in your life. People who do this are often happier, healthier, and more satisfied in their relationships, especially compared to those who focus on their problems. Write it in a journal or just list them in your head — what matters most is that you do it.
Forget Quiet Time
If your day is filled with work and noise, the morning is a perfect chance to clear your mind with even a few minutes of meditation. You can simply focus on your breath and try to let go of thoughts that come up. The practice can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and may help ease conditions including anxiety, pain, high blood pressure, insomnia, and migraine headaches.
Bail Out of Breakfast
People who eat breakfast regularly tend to have sharper thinking and less body fat, and they are less likely to have type 2 diabetes and heart disease. They also exercise more regularly and eat a healthier diet. So, enjoy a healthy breakfast — it’s an easy and enjoyable way to get a good start on the day.
Eat Too Sweet
Doughnuts and other sugary pastries made from white flour have little nutrition and get into (and out of) your blood too quickly. That can leave you tired, irritable, and hungry for more. Protein from eggs or cottage cheese and “complex carbs” with more fiber and nutrition — oatmeal or other whole grains, fruits, and vegetables — take longer to digest, satisfy your hunger, and provide a slow steady stream of energy.
Skip the Sunscreen
It can help protect your skin against cancer and wrinkles caused by UV rays that you’re exposed to whenever you’re out in the sun, even if it’s cloudy. It’s best to put it on about 15 minutes before you go outside. That’s how long it takes your skin to absorb it. You need to put it on again after just 2 hours if you’re still in the sun, or sooner if you sweat a lot or go swimming.
Tip adapted from WebMD.comiii
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