Happy 2014! I used to take the New Year very seriously, and have successfully upheld several promises or resolutions. December is a time when I put my nose to the grindstone and work on business objectives and strategy for the year, and also put thought into what I can do to improve my mind, body and spirit in the coming 12 months. This year, in a spate of weakness, I have committed to “temporarily” give up sweets, deserts and deep-fried food. An admitted sugar and french-fry junkie, this temporary ban on sweets and fried food will help kick-start a good year. I have reserved the right to lift the ban when I chose, and will do so sometime in early 2014. This is a text-book study of how NOT to set a resolution or plan to improve health! 🙂
As 2013 came to a close, I watched Facebook, Twitter, and the news feeds as all the large financial firms put forth their checklists of financial to-do’s for the New Year. Nestled within all of this information you can also find several predictions for what the stock market will do in 2014, and forecasts for the economy. Last week during a client meeting, the topic of Congress arose, and in a quick moment of frustration I blurted out “I do not care what happens in DC” (of course I care!). I have said over and over that I work to build portfolios that will perform well in a myriad of economic and market environments. By building a sound portfolio of quality investments, you will more likely reach your financial goals. I do not make predictions, because it is an incredibly risky strategy and virtually impossible to do accurately on a consistent basis. The economic cycle grows and then contracts, and repeats itself over and over again. The cycle takes years to process, and while it is important to understand where we are historically, I think it is more important to build an investment process that selects high-quality stocks, bonds and mutual funds. We have no control over what will happen in DC, outside casting our votes during election time and making our voices heard. It does not change the fact that everyone still needs to invest, and have a long-term strategy to work towards financial goals. But it certainly makes for good conversation, as does trying to dissect the stock market and economy. Financial and news organizations are more than happy to provide us with enough information to choke a Budweiser Clydesdale horse.
Herein lies the problem…we are news junkies. Now, instead of just reading the morning paper and gluing ourselves to the television for just an hour to watch the nightly news, we are bombarded 24×7 with information that hits our computers, tablets and phones. It is fun to gather knowledge, but when it comes to your investments, it can become a huge distraction. I have referred to these times overs the years as “cupcake moments.” It is akin to being on a diet and having that chocolate cupcake tempt you (my personal favorite, with white frosting). Reading negative news stories about your favorite stock can make you stomach sink, but often has little to do with how the stock will preform for the year. Likewise, it is fun to watch a stock price pop, driven by a singular news event, but this can lull us into euphoria, and cloud objectivity.
Resist temptation, and resolve to give up getting rattled by the bombardment of both good and bad news that can distract you from your long-term plans.
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