Plan, Invest, Live…Invest like you are tending a garden.
Investing takes patience. In this world of instant food, entertainment, success… instant everything. It is hard to be patient with the world screaming at us from all sides, “Now, now, now.” Patience is hard. We multi-task everything.
I read…on the treadmill, two things at once. And when necessary discipline some children at the same time too. That’s three things at once. Which means I am probably doing none of those well. I usually have the timer set on my phone to move the sprinkler (that’s four) since the house we are in now does not have a sprinkler system yet, and I also usually have either the washer or dryer going…usually both. I guess this is one of the perks (distractions?) of working from home.
Today, I worked from the doctor’s office. That was a first. I didn’t want to waste the time, so after the medical assistant checked my vitals like my weight, temperature, and blood pressure and asked me some funny questions that I am sure they already knew the answers to…but maybe they were just making sure what I said last time was still the same this time. They are trying to poke me and prod me to find a weakness in my armor or something.
Why did I get the feeling as we walked to the scale, “Wait…what? I had no idea this was going to be a pop-quiz on my weight!” I totally tensed-up. Had I known there was going to be a weigh-in I would have skipped that breakfast shake until after the appointment. I would have worn lighter clothing, perhaps flip-flops to kick them off as I got to the scale. I was exhaling every last-remaining molecule of oxygen to remove any possible item that would generate a higher number. It’s a good thing the scale has a fast reading, or I probably would have passed out. Thankfully, my liver health numbers appear to be back in-line with where they should be and there is one more big test to complete in a few weeks which should confirm (hopefully) a successful treatment. It has taken a couple of years to get to this point. It has been a slow process. Some things take time to heal. The liver is pretty amazing. It is one of those organs that can recover itself if it is properly addressed. Some things take time to grow.
Ask a bunch of expert gardeners or farmers about the ingredients needed for a successful harvest and see what they say. I am sure if we asked 100 of them we would have a bunch of different answers, but I bet we would have some strong themes that run through all of them. These themes remind me of good ingredients to have while investing too.
The keys to successful farming/gardening as I (the non-farmer) see them…
1. Good soil. Pavement won’t work. You won’t like the result.
2. Water. The sun is a two-edged sword…you need it, but too much will ruin it.
3. Wait. This is the hard part.
4. Pruning. This is the part that seems tedious. Why can’t I just let stuff grow crazy-wild? Because we are aiming for a higher quality end-product.
5. Wait some more. This is still the hard part.
6. Harvest. Reap what you sowed. Enjoy the blessing…and then…
7. Repeat. Don’t take short-cuts and then start back at #1.
I love the definition of the word “prune”. “Trim by cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems, especially to increase fruitfulness and growth.” In the investment world we call this “rebalancing.” This is where we periodically review the investments and trim them back or add to others to get back to our original plan, because as the markets move your portfolio will move to, and it will start to drift or stray from your original mix. This drifting can either make our portfolio more conservative than we planned, or more aggressive than we planned which can lead to unexpected results.
After 21 years in the investment industry I have some pretty strong feelings about investing strategy. I witnessed first-hand the tech crash in 2002-2003. I specifically remember buying a stock for myself at $40 per share and watching it go to $0.60 by the time they folded and cashed me out. I wasn’t investing, I was gambling. I lost. But I learned a lot from that. I know many of you did as well. I was much more prepared for 2008 because of that experience, and I want to make sure my clients are better prepared to handle the markets swings. I was better diversified, and I didn’t panic. The result was much better.
Here’s how we can invest using those same principles…
1. Good soil. Make sure that you have a PLAN! Know WHY you are investing so that you can withstand the short-term volatility of the stock market.
2. Water. When possible, we should be investing a little bit each month. Many of you have contributions from your paycheck going into 401k accounts, IRAs, or other accounts. Also, any dividends you receive from those investments can provide a constant inflow to your portfolio as well.
3. Wait. This is the hard part. You would never see a farmer rip up his whole field and start over a week later if he did not have full grown vegetables that first week. Sadly, this is how some people view their investments. They try something for a week or a month and then they hear something else is growing faster so they rip up their “field” and replant something else.
4. Pruning (Rebalance). Pick a disciplined time frame (annually, semi-annually, quarterly…) and stick to it, or use another method such as a “5% rule” for yourself. This means that once my investments stray from the original/planned mix by 5% or more I know it is time to rebalance.
5. Wait and water.
6. Harvest. Reap what you sowed. Enjoy the blessing…and then…
7. Repeat. Don’t take short-cuts…start back at #1.
Investments don’t always go up. There are risks in investing. You can lose money investing. Make sure that you have a plan or work with an advisor that can give you a plan and help you monitor it. We are not guaranteed success, sometimes markets go down, and sometimes they go down a lot, so make sure you have a plan.
If you would like to discuss your situation I would be glad to help.
Click here and complete the fields so we can schedule a meeting or phone call. As we work together, I will teach you all that I have learned over the years I have spent with countless families and individuals with various dreams and goals navigating the open waters of the financial markets.