My pre-Covid days went something like this: I would start my day with a run in my Asics running shoes (stock ticker symbol: ASCCY) and some Nike gear (NKE). I would then shave using a Harry’s razor (EPC) and Gillette shaving cream (PG) and almost always shower, using Ivory soap (PG).
During March the financial markets – both stocks and bonds – have behaved like I felt: tired, panicked and emotional. Let’s face it, those among us who haven’t felt those emotions are delusional or are actually robots. Working from home, figuring out Zoom, watching baseball games from 1976 rather than the NCAA tournament, wondering if every spring allergy sneeze is actually…IT! It’s quite natural to feel stressed and that makes us tired, which can lead to poor decision making. The stock and bond markets have been panicking – don’t fall for the trap.
I bumped into a neighbor at Starbucks last Saturday who quickly asked me if I thought he should move money within his IRA from bonds to stocks to take advantage of the stock sell-off that week. You know, buy low-hopefully sell high. Now, I don’t know this guy very well – I don’t even know his last name – so it’s impossible to provide him with personalized advice. So, I responded with a question: If you buy stocks now and the market drops another 20% over the next few months, will you still view your purchase as a wise one?
A good friend says his dad used to tell him when he screwed up that “at least he can serve as a bad example.” In that spirit, someone told me almost four years ago that he had impulsively moved about $250,000 of his retirement account from stock mutual funds to cash because he feared the stock market was about to plummet. Any guesses what happened next? That’s right – the market jumped to new heights. This person then decided to re-enter the market by re-purchasing his stock mutual funds that were now worth much more than when he’d sold. I calculated that his sell-low, buy-high strategy cost him roughly $35,000.
Our ability to recall past events in detail is uneven at best. Chances are your spouse or your sibling remembers something that happened, or didn’t happen, 20-30 years ago much differently than you do. My brother, for instance, can recall 15-20 vicious things I did to him when we were teenagers while all I remember is the love and praise I showered on him. We all tend to base our expectations of the future, however, on our memories of the past. And, if our memories of the past are less than accurate, what does that say about our ability to predict the future?
I love the big pass play in college football. In fact, one of my fondest football memories is the Andre Woodson to Stevie Johnson touchdown pass to beat Louisville in 2007. Even today, watching that play on YouTube gives me goose bumps. One thing I don’t care for, however, is the “expert” in the stands constantly yelling at the offensive coordinator to “throw the deep ball!” As much as I love them, those are low-percentage plays that are prone to incompletions or, worse, interceptions. They add risk to the team’s goals to score and win and should only be employed within the overall game plan.
My friend Jed came into wealth from some bubbling crude a few years back and decided to invest some of that newfound cash. Now, being a simple but wise man, Jed knew instinctively that he shouldn’t put all his eggs into one basket, but he didn’t know what kind of baskets to use and how many eggs to put into each. So, he decided to seek some advice from a Certified Financial Planner™ professional. This highly trained advisor, bound by a strict code of ethics requiring him to provide Jed advice strictly in Jed’s best interest, recommended he diversify his investments because that would help reduce his risk and smooth out his investing ride.
As a generous man, Jed gifted part of his life-changing windfall to his son, Jethro. Now, Jethro is also a simple man but maybe not quite as wise as his father. In fact, he was quite comfortable keeping all his proverbial cereal in one, very large bowl. He didn’t seek professional financial help, other than his friend from the bank, Jane Hathaway, who readily agreed with Jethro’s suspenders and more suspenders approach.
When I was 14 I started my first job: paperboy. I delivered the afternoon paper to my customers in one 7-story apartment complex so, once I rode my bike there in all kinds of weather, the actual delivery process was easy. Load a shopping cart up with papers, replace the ones in the rack, then go floor to floor kicking papers underneath doors. I actually made good money but would have made more if I hadn’t had such a collection problem. Back then, you subscribed to the paper and then your friendly delivery person would provide you with a bill. Would you believe some of these deadbeats would try and stiff a 14-year old boy and not pay?
Come on, admit it, you place at least one bet each Derby on the name that means something to you. I do. For fun, below is the list of this year’s Derby horses with the investing or financial planning lesson that can be gleaned from their names. (In the order of their Road to the Derby points)
Clients ask us all the time about either keeping a house they used to live in and renting it out or buying a house to rent out. I guess us Americans have some kind of burning desire to control our section of the Monopoly board. Usually I begin my response with a flip answer such as, “A mutual fund won’t ever call you at 3:00 in the morning with a stopped-up toilet.” And, while the hassle of managing rental property can’t be overlooked, let’s concentrate on the numbers of residential real estate as an investment.