In the quest for financial success, the greatest challenge often lies within ourselves. Bryan Ballentine’s “Wealth On Purpose” dedicates an insightful chapter to the concept of the “Lizard Brain” — our primitive instincts that can sometimes sabotage our financial decisions.
Understanding the Lizard Brain
Our “Lizard Brain” is the ancient, instinctual part of our psyche that can drive us toward impulsive and emotional financial decisions. It often leads to behavior that is at odds with our long-term financial goals, such as knee-jerk reactions to market fluctuations and emotional spending. Bryan insists that recognizing and controlling these instincts is critical. By cultivating self-awareness and discipline, we can mitigate the adverse effects of the lizard brain on our financial journey.
Behavioral Biases in Investing
Behavioral biases profoundly influence our investment decisions. Overconfidence can result in taking unnecessary risks and excessive trading. Loss aversion causes investors to cling to losing investments due to the disproportionate pain of losses compared to the pleasure of gains. The Disposition Effect describes the tendency to sell winners too quickly while holding losers too long. Finally, the Herd Mentality bias leads to following the crowd rather than making independent, rational decisions.
1. Overconfidence and Its Pitfalls
Overconfidence can be particularly dangerous as it often leads to excessive trading and risk-taking. As investors age, their financial capacity might change, yet the tendency to overestimate their investment abilities remains. He advocates for the importance of an objective financial advisor to navigate around the pitfalls of the lizard brain.
2. Loss Aversion and the Disposition Effect
Bryan explains loss aversion as the tendency to prioritize avoiding losses over acquiring equivalent gains. This leads to the disposition effect—holding onto losing stocks for too long and selling winners too hastily. He advises a disciplined, long-term view to maximize gains and avoid these biases.
3. The Dangers of Overreacting
The author cautions against overreacting to market events, stressing that market timing is often less effective than a steady, long-term investment strategy. He shares examples of clients who exited the market prematurely during the COVID-19 pandemic, illustrating the costly nature of such overreactions.
4. Herd Mentality and Its Influence
Herd mentality is a bias that compels individuals to make decisions based on the crowd’s actions. He uses the example of timeshares to demonstrate how herd mentality can lead to poor financial choices. He encourages independent thought and critical analysis over the comfort of following the majority.
The Perils of Market Timing
Another key message of the chapter is avoiding the temptation to time the market. The chapter points out that the market’s most significant returns are often concentrated in short, unpredictable periods, suggesting that a steady, long-term investment strategy is more beneficial than trying to predict the market’s highs and lows. Staying invested and avoiding the impulse to react to every market movement is key to capturing the full potential of your investments.
Political Influence and Financial Decisions
“Wealth on Purpose” also discusses the disproportionate impact that political events can have on our financial decisions, often triggering emotional responses that are out of proportion to the actual influence politicians have on the economy. He argues that while political developments can create market noise, they often have more control over our minds than over the actual financial markets.
The Risk of Multiple Advisors
Everyone is familiar with the saying “too many cooks in the kitchen,” and that sentiment applies to your finances as well. Using multiple financial advisors can result in a fragmented financial strategy, with conflicting advice and a lack of unified direction. This approach can hinder effective wealth management and lead to missed opportunities, especially in tax planning and investment coordination. He advises finding a single trusted advisor to ensure consistency and clarity in your financial plan.
The Importance of Third-Party Custodians
The last major point emphasized in the chapter is the security that third-party custodians provide, acting as a safeguard against fraudulent activities and ensuring additional checks and balances. Bryan uses the Madoff scandal as a cautionary tale of what can happen without this layer of protection, advocating for the necessity of a reliable intermediary to hold and report on your assets.
The Role of a Trusted Advisor
Ultimately, the book educates how a trusted advisor acts as a “financial surgeon,” providing objective advice and helping investors stay the course through the market’s ups and downs. This guidance is crucial in mitigating the lizard brain’s influence and achieving “Wealth on Purpose.” We can help investors steer clear of the lizard brain’s reactive impulses.
If you have any questions or want to know how to get your hands on a copy of “Wealth on Purpose” by Bryan Ballentine, give us a call!
Have a great weekend!
Sources: “Wealth on Purpose” by Bryan Ballentine
Golf Tip of the Week
How To Transfer Your Weight: A 4-Step Drill To Fix Your Golf Swing
How do you transfer your weight in your golf swing? Moving your weight, or pressure, from side-to-side should feel as natural as walking, because it is, ultimately, a stepping motion. But what I see a lot of golfers do is slide way too far back on their backswing, and never make that next step forward through the ball. This drill is a simple way to fix that, and I think it’s going to help a lot of players. — Joe Plecker, Director of Instruction, Landings Club, Savannah, Ga., Golf Digest Best in State Teacher.
How To Transfer Your Weight
- Move weight back and up on the backswing
- Move your lead foot to your trail foot
- Take a big side step with your lead foot
- Swing through to your finish
Transfer Your Weight #1: Back and up
The foundation of a good weight transfer in your golf swing starts on the backswing. The feeling your chasing here isn’t just that you’re moving your weight back, but that you’re moving your pressure back and up, towards the sky. This is called unweighting, and it’ll help increase your vertical force later in your swing. A common fault I see is players’ swing moving down, towards the ground, on the backswing.
Transfer Your Weight #2: Lead foot to trail foot
Bring your lead foot back to your trail foot. This shift fully over to your trail side happens earlier in your golf swing that you might think, but this will give you the feeling of being fully over to your trail side, and sets the stage for the forward sequence.
Transfer Your Weight #3: Lead foot sidestep
This step—literally—is simple. There’s no rotation, and no rise. Just take a big, wide sidestep and plant your lead. You want to land in a wide stance; it’s a feeling of a complete shifting. That’s the feeling you want to replicate in your golf swing as you transition from backswing to downswing.
Transfer Your Weight #4: Swing Through
Once you’ve planted that lead foot, your pressure has shifted, and you want your arms and club to flow in the same direction.
Tip adapted from golfdigest.comi
Recipe of the Week
Air Fryer Fish Sticks
- One 1-pound piece fresh cod, skin removed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
- 1 teaspoon seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay
- Nonstick cooking spray, for the fish sticks
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- Tartar sauce, for serving
- Cut the cod into strips, about 3 inches long, 1/2 inch wide and 1/2 inch thick. Pat dry between a couple paper towels, then season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.
- Whisk the flour with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a shallow bowl. Whisk the eggs with a pinch of salt in a second shallow bowl. Whisk the breadcrumbs, Pecorino Romano and seafood seasoning in a third shallow bowl until combined. Dip a piece of fish in the seasoned flour, shaking off any excess, then dip in the beaten egg. Dredge in the breadcrumb mixture, turning until evenly coated. Transfer to a large plate or rimmed baking sheet and continue until all the fish are coated.
- Preheat a 3.5-quart air fryer to 400 degrees F. Working in batches, place some of the fish sticks in the fryer basket in a single layer, then spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Cook, flipping halfway through, until the fish sticks are golden brown and opaque throughout, 3 to 4 minutes a side.
- Serve with lemon wedges and tartar sauce, for dipping.
Recipe adapted from Foodnetwork.comii
Health Tip of the Week
Signs Point Toward Post-Holiday Surge in Respiratory Viruses
The big three respiratory illnesses of the flu, COVID-19, and RSV are showing up at high levels across the country, and further increases due to holiday gatherings are expected.
The rate of testing positive for one of the viruses that causes those three main respiratory illnesses is now well above 10% nationwide, with the flu being the most likely culprit. New national data shows that 16% of flu tests are now returning positive and nearly 13% of COVID and RSV tests are positive.
The CDC cautioned that some of these figures, which include cases diagnosed through Dec. 23, may be undercounts due to possible data reporting delays.
“Remember, all of these numbers are before people got together for the holidays,” Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN. “So don’t be disappointed or surprised that we [may] even see a bigger bump as we head into January.”
Six states are now seeing respiratory illnesses at the highest levels of the CDC’s 13-level severity reporting system: Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
Nationwide, respiratory illnesses accounted for 8 of every 100 visits to emergency rooms during the week ending Dec. 23, the CDC reported.
Public health officials typically watch how many people are being hospitalized due to an illness to see how severe circulating strains are and also to monitor the strain on health care systems. For the week ending Dec. 23, more than 14,700 people were hospitalized for the flu nationwide, and 29,059 people were hospitalized due to COVID. But hospital occupancy rates for any health problem are holding relatively steady around 76% of beds filled nationally, CDC data shows.
Wastewater monitoring of COVID, as well as of the flu and RSV, from the private firm Biobot showed more detections in recent weeks for both COVID and the flu, with RSV potentially dipping lower in the week ending Dec. 23. CDC data for RSV case counts also showed a sizable week-over-week drop for that time period.
Vaccines are available to protect against severe cases of the flu, COVID, and RSV. Antiviral treatments are available, too, for people who are diagnosed, including Tamiflu to treat the flu and Paxlovid to treat COVID.
Tip adapted from WebMD.comiii
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