Delete This Article on Investing

Delete This Article on Investing! was written by RC Peck, CFP for Fearless Wealth’s Newsletter in January 2005.

The word on the street is that everybody is smart again … because stocks are going up. This has always baffled me. What does the market have to do with any one person being smart? Nothing. The market moves on its own, for its own reasons, and no one knows when, and which way, it is going to swing.

But everything changes when our money is involved; actions and comments become predictable. The “smart people” are emerging again, and that’s because their money is growing. The more the market moves up, the more confident people become about themselves and their investing ability.

If I polled these “smart people” I’d be willing to bet that most of them did not sell any of their positions in March 2000 and didn’t buy more in May 2003; they simply held on. The “buy and hold” method may not always work and, with the NASDAQ still down 60%, people still want to believe that the market is going to get them back to March 2000 valuations. Otherwise, why would they still be holding with no intention of selling their NASDAQ stocks?

At current prices the NASDAQ will have to rise another 250% to get back to its level of March 2000. I’m not sure that’s going to happen, but who knows? I didn’t believe it was going to hit 5,100 the first time.

So where am I going with all this? Protect yourself this time around. Make sure you have stop losses in place. If you do nothing else after reading this newsletter, do this simple task. I don’t know if this current trend will end in two months, or two years, but we are far from finished with cleaning up from the last 18-year bull market.

Today’s newsletter contains a few suggestions for my dear readers to consider so that we can enter this year more equipped then last year. I want to invite you to do a few things for yourself. First and foremost, I want you to throw out any of my unread newsletters that are still sitting in your inbox.

That’s right. Just throw them out. Get rid of them, or hit the delete button; they are taking up mental space in your life. If you haven’t read them yet, you won’t. (Though I must admit, the ideas presented in the “God’s Currency” series are going to make their implementers the most money they will make from investing over the next 24 months.)

I want you to throw them out because I want you to start cleaning up and organizing this part of your life; the Wealth part of your life. There are probably a good percentage of readers who do not invest actively in the stock market, either because they do not have the money or maybe because the amount of money they do have is small.

Here’s a secret. The investing part of the wealth equation is smaller than the world believes. Yes, you do need to be investing your money, but that is not the first step, and it’s not even the tenth step.

There are important steps you NEED to take before you ever invest a dollar in the market. One of the first is the decision to take on this part of your life. Having said that, the first step is to get organized. Getting organized starts with the elimination of stuff and clutter, like unread newsletters. We are setting up our New Year’s resolutions late but not that late: start with cleaning out unread and unneeded things.

I’ve mentioned in past newsletters that 90% of a money manager’s success is due to asset allocation and not to stock picking ability. The further I delve into this phenomenon called wealth, the further down stock-picking moves on the list. Start by organizing, and then quickly move to putting a plan in place.

That is your second step. Your plan (also known as your wealth plan) will only happen if you enlist a coach or mentor to help. Find someone (hire or ask a friend) who will hold your feet to the fire to make sure you reach your end goal, whether that goal is retiring well, buying a second home or just living a better life. You need human interaction to make it happen.

But here’s the catch: your coach or friend must be committed to your success, and that person cannot be a sales person (broker) selling you investment products. The reason I bring this up is because a broker’s job falls into the investing part of a Wealth plan. You need to work on the whole plan, and not just the investing part.

Step three: Stop looking outside yourself for answers. If you have a functioning brain then you have everything you need to build the wealth for your life. Take on your own financial life this year. You have what it takes.

The reason people don’t retire well or buy the second home isn’t because of their stock picking ability (the market trend pulls 75% of stocks with it anyway), it’s because they have no wealth equation (plan).

A wealth plan is made up of organizing, saving, investing, spending wisely, controlling expenses and sticking to the plan regardless of emotions. You cannot outsource the entire equation and hope this area of your life turns out right. You must play a role in it.

Make note: hiring a money manager to manage your money is not a plan (that is hiring a person to manage your investments). Please do not confuse this with having a wealth plan. The money manager is a part of the whole plan. In fact, you do not even need a money manager; you just need to make sure you have the right asset allocation (this is the second time I’ve said this) and that you are part of the major trends (that is the first time I’ve said that today).

So, as this year begins, ask yourself what you are going to do differently in order to get different results. And please, do not count on the markets to correct your mistakes; you only have a couple of times in your life when the markets will do this for you, and this market is not the one.

Lessons:

  1. The markets are moving up, and have been for 19 months. Put a plan together for when they correct.
  2. Stock picking is a smaller part of getting what you want out of your money. Get organized, build a plan and allocate your assets.
  3. The Wealth Plan is the foundation for getting what you want from your money. Remember the old saying “Plan your work and work your plan.” This is no different.
  4. Education always pays itself back. Even if you have a broker/money manager, start working on your own financial education this year.

To following a plan that gets you what you deserve,
RC’s Signature

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