3 New Year’s Resolutions

Happy 2019, everyone! I hope 2019 brings you hope, happiness and peace. The New Year is a time for resolutions, so let’s jump on that bandwagon. Losing weight is always a good one, perhaps a cliche but in reality good for your health. However, I am recommending 3 resolutions that relate to your personal finances. Check these out:

Don’t Look At Your Account Balance Every Day

It is highly likely that the increased market volatility that we have seen through 2018 will continue in 2019. The sources of the volatility are still in place:

  • The Federal Reserve’s Quantitative Tightening policies of raising interest rates and culling its $4 Trillion + bond portfolio.
  • Program stock trading that takes any trend and magnifies it to the n’th degree, likely thereby creating an over-impression of the strength of any directional move.
  • An upending in the world trade order and the threat of higher tariffs and therefore higher prices on imported goods.
  • President Trump’s leadership style. Like him or not, his style does not present a sense of calm.

When there is higher volatility in the markets, it is easy to get caught up in it and worry about your own account. Don’t! Instead, rise above the morass and take control of your own emotions. Remain calm yourself and act rationally with minimal emotion brought on by daily gyrations. One way to do that is not to look at your account balance on a daily basis. Studies show that it is best to look at your account balance on a weekly or even less frequent basis, specifically because one tends to be more rational when you look at it less frequently. If you are truly addicted and can’t help yourself, at least discipline yourself only to make decisions on your account on only one day per week, such as every Tuesday. There is a reason why your broker sends you an Account Statement only every month: It is because it is healthier to look at your account every month rather than every day.

Turn Off TV News

By this I mean national 24 hour news stations as well as the likes of CNBC, Bloomberg TV and Fox Business News. Live in a state of blissful ignorance. Instead of TV, find a trusted newspaper (old school) or website (21st Century) and read about what is happening. You may get the same news reporting, but the volume and hysteria are toned down if you read about it rather than watch it on TV. The Millennial Generation is criticized because they “cut the cord” and watch only streaming shows on Netflix and the like and eschew news about the world around them. Criticize them if you want, but there is a lot to be said for choosing not to get upset by the news of the day.

Read Fiction

Develop your financial plan, own the assets you want to own, and let things play out. Take a look at it every week, 2 weeks, or month; make adjustments as necessary; and otherwise live your life. Concentrate your efforts on your family, your job, and your community rather than on your personal finances. Read fiction rather than watch TV. Fiction is a wonderful escape from the vagaries of everyday life. Books cost too much? Go to your Public Library. If your Local doesn’t have the book you want, chances are your Local is part of a regional system and can get the book you want quickly. You like to read on your tablet instead of a heavy book? The Library loans out books to download. You may have to wait for it (I don’t understand why, but that is the case), but you can download books to your tablet for free through your local Public Library. Don’t know what to read? There’s always the Classics, but if you want a more modern book, first go to Amazon and read the best-seller lists and the reviews of the best-sellers to see what you might like, and then go to the Library and get it. If your book is not in stock, then put a hold on it and you will get it when it is your turn. Spending your time by reading fiction instead of fretting about the financial markets is good for your mental health and is also probably good for the performance of your portfolio.

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