Being verbally blunt can be a good thing or a bad thing, and saying what we believe can get us liked or disliked. Some folks, who are often blunt by speaking their mind, are unfortunately perceived, at times, as being rude and or disrespectful. On the other hand, many people consider candid-speaking folks like Warren Buffett as forthright and truthful. It is my desire that you distinguish my straight talk as not being impolite or condescending, but instead honest and caring.
Before I begin, I want to be clear: Any time I address investors or financial advisors, I am speaking first to myself. There is no arrogance or judgment here, just a call for something better. Are you ready to put on the gloves and head into the octagon for some in-your- face constructive criticism? Okay, let’s get it on!
Please listen up, as the following narrative could save us thousands of dollars and a boatload of embarrassment. If we are one of those crybabies who enjoys pointing our finger and blaming the economy, corporate America, or any of the other usual suspects for our financial woes, we need to stop right now and point the finger right at ourselves. Perhaps Mark Twain said it best: “There are a thousand excuses for failure, but never a good reason.” This ain’t grandma’s house, and I am not going to bake you cookies and pamper you. The fact of the matter is that we cause most of our financial problems!
What we do not know does not hurt us. Instead, our wounds arise by what we know and do not do. I can hear some of you saying, “Careful now, Preacher, don’t get carried away with your finger-wagging money judge.” With all respect, perhaps I am a finger-wagging money critic, but when one repeatedly witnesses irrational investor behavior for as long as I have, I cannot help but voice my concern, frustration and possible solutions to avoid making future foolish investment choices.
I have become incredibly, indescribably and excruciatingly nauseated watching investors make a poor decision solely based on what they hear from the pounding pundits of pessimism or “head-for-the-hills” doomsayers masquerading as sophisticated investment analysts. I get physically ill observing irrational investor behavior. Of course, only with time does one recognize their absurdity because of the foolish decision, because at the time, one’s assessment appeared to make tremendous sense.
The primary reason why most adults have financial problems is not one’s low relative salary. Instead, the critical cause is a lack of self-discipline and inability to delay gratification. It comes down to the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. We all have the choice. Obviously, there are exceptions to most things in life, and I understand that some peeps got into financial trouble when it had nothing to do with lack of discipline. However, I suggest in most cases financial problems are a lack of self-control. For example, for a variety of reasons, many of us enjoy keeping up with the Joneses, but in the end, we often become as impoverished as the Joneses. Instead of coveting the Jones family, why don’t we invest our money first, pay our bills second and buy our luxuries last? Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Sadly, most investors do the opposite: buy luxuries first, pay bills second and invest whatever is remaining.
Investing should be simple, boring, and straightforward enough that we should yawn. Yaaaaaawwwwwwn! Far too many investors, however, seek complexity and ignore simplicity. This phenomenon has been around for years and has led financial advisors and clients alike to ignore the greatest value added by a financial professional, such as myself: behavioral coach!
Moreover, when it comes to investing, three emotions – fear, greed and regret – control our decision making process, which often destroys our portfolios.
Greed: How much money I will make if I am right
Fear: How much money I will lose if I am wrong
Regret: How much money I could have made if only...
If our goldfish is sick, we do not to treat the fish; we treat the water. In other words, the environment is everything, which is why we should pay attention to what we expose ourselves. For example, I encourage you to do as I do: ignore market volatility, headlines, CNBC, The Wall Street Journal, Mad Money with Jim Cramer, as well as any investment advice that our colleagues, family or friends might want to share. That is correct. Ignore all the noise and get rich quick ideas. Too many “investors” buy and sell too often, as they think that they can work some magic by listening to the market forecasters, who presumably know something that nobody else does. Fuhgettaboutit!
The stock market is not a Steven Spielberg movie. We do not need gypsies with crystal balls, soothsayers wearing wizard hats, palm readers and stock market pundits with sketchy records of accomplishment. Just eliminate the racket and nonsense and yawn. Yaaaaaawwwwwwn!
I put forth that managing our behavior is the foundation of being a successful investor. Without question, I believe psychology trumps financial education every time. Often in the real world, it is not the smart people that get ahead, but the bold. Said differently, being whip-smart will not save us from the demons of destructions: greed and fear. The investment graveyards are full of investors who learned this lesson the hard way. In the end, we must use our emotions to think instead of thinking with our emotions. If you do not conduct your financial decision making process with this methodology, I suggest that you make an appointment with the Hokey Pokey Clinic: a place to turn yourself around! Now take a deep breath and turn the page.
Harry Pappas Jr. CFP®
Master of Science Degree Personal Financial PlanningCertified Estate & Trust Specialist ™
Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™Pappas Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors
818 North Highway A1A, Ste 200
Ponte Vedra, Florida 32082
The use of the CDFA™ designation does not permit Wells Fargo Advisors or its Financial Advisors to provide legal advice, nor is it meant to imply that the firm or its associates are acting as experts in this field.
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The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author(s) and are subject to change. The material has been prepared or is distributed solely for information purposes and is not a solicitation or an offer to buy any security or instrument or to participate in any trading strategy.