First of all, there’s this:
Health insurance is set to now become part of our tax preparation process. This is the opening salvo.
If you have friends who received one of these notices, we can help. Send them our way: (410) 224-2600
But moving on, I wrote a few weeks ago about the hidden financial mistakes which even some of our wealthiest clients fall into. Thanks for your kind feedback on that one — and, so, I have a few more to share.
These are gleaned from my years working directly with families — in their finances, and, of course, in saving them money on tax. In so doing, I’m hopefully offering some advice which isn’t the “same old, same old”.
My goal is to help you think about how you’re handling your finances a little differently. People don’t often talk about the psychology behind financial issues … and it can hurt you if you don’t consider it.
This doesn’t fully explore the rich topic, of course, but it should help …
“Real World” Personal Strategy Note
MoreMoney Mistakes In Plain Sight
“Become addicted to constant and never-ending self-improvement.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo
As I wrote last week, you pay your bills on time. You try to save as much as you can. You even follow the advice that you read in books and hear on the radio about how to keep your finances in check.
But perhaps you’re still not getting ahead.
Well, sometimes, it’s the unchallenged assumptions about how we’re handling our money that rise up and hurt us.
So, in the course of working with clients, I’ve identified some mistakes I see (as well as ones I’ve made myself!), which can be fixed. Last week, I gave you two:
Subconscious Mistake #1: Inappropriate Mental Accounting
Subconscious Mistake #2: Manipulative Price Anchoring
Let us know if you missed last week’s email, and would like to receive it again. Now here are the rest…
Subconscious Mistake #3: Loss Aversion Costing You
Definition: Our consistent tendency to avoid loss, rather than acquiring gain.
Typical Example: An investor is more likely to sell a stock that has increased in value, rather than selling stock that decreased. Over time, her investment portfolio is made up of investments that have decreased.
Cure: Don’t think of selling a stock for less than you paid for it as being a loss. It can actually work as a gain for two reasons:
* Tax deduction (which can really help!)
* The other side of opportunity cost: opportunity GAINED (i.e., you can better utilize that money elsewhere)
So, don’t check your portfolio so often. If you don’t know you’ve lost money, you don’t experience the pain. (And riding the roller-coaster of your portfolio’s value is a waste of emotional space.)
Since stock prices go up in the long-run, the longer you go without looking at your portfolio, the greater chance of seeing a gain.
Sometimes taking that loss really is the best thing you can do.
Subconscious Mistake #4: Following the Herd
Definition: The tendency for us to want to do the same thing as a large group of others, with no thought to whether that action is rational or irrational.
Typical Example #1: Buying when prices are high because everyone else is.
Typical Example #2: Selling when prices are low because everyone else is.
Cure: Warren Buffett said, “Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.”
Keep this in mind when making your next financial decision. If everyone is telling you to buy this or buy that (i.e., gold, silver, real estate), then do the opposite.
In the financial investment world, if it seems too good to be true, then it usually is.
Write yourself an investment policy statement or contract.
Include factors such as:
* Investment objective
* Investment goals
* Desired asset allocation and diversification
* Summary of your risk tolerance
* Rebalancing schedule
Before making any changes, consult with this contract.
You can also take advantage of our inherent tendency to do what’s approved by others, to affect positive behavior in yourself. For example, let’s say you are trying to pay off debt. Tell your 3 closest friends, make an informal contract, sign your name at the bottom, and then email it to them. The pain you would incur from breaking that contract is high, relative to the pain of breaking your behavior if you went about it alone.
Don’t forget — we’re only a phone call or email away, and our consistent question for you is this: “What more could we do, to help you?”