Alarm clock. Bed hair. Morning ritual. Off you go.
We spend countless hours preparing for our work day, and a mind boggling amount of time spent getting there, being there, and getting home. It’s half of our day. Sleep used to be an eight hour thing. Now it’s five, maybe six. Work used to be nine to five. Now it’s seven to seven. Everyone is time starved, and it’s safe to say that our time has enemies.
And here’s another stark reality: Your money has enemies.
Once you’ve earned it, any number of outside forces are out to take your money.
While your money has friends, too (your budget, your bank account, your portfolio, your retirement accounts, and so forth) there is a long line of enemies forming, a nasty coalition of forces that are determined to take your money.
There will always be con artists, of course. Street corner hustlers offering a $20 Rolex or some other too-good-to-be-true come on. Madison Ave, the con in the gray flannel suit, is always pitching you something you couldn’t possibly live without. Politicians and bureaucrats always seem to swipe a bigger and bigger piece of your American dream, a societal bait and switch in nightmarish proportions.
And then there’s Wall Street.
How many trillions have been collectively lost in the quest to “beat the market. Add in some irresistible sure things, the next big thing, and other dead cats that didn’t bounce. These are just a few of the enemies that telegraph their punches, so you should learn how to bob, weave and duck if you want to win the battle for your money.
And then there is the stealth brigade.
They wear masks. They creep up on you like dusk. They’re a well armed contra force known by their unholy names: taxes, inflation, rising interest rates, hidden fees, undisclosed commissions and other sins of omission.
And then there is you.
As wicked and dangerous as all these enemies can be, look no further than the bathroom mirror to see your money’s worst enemy.
Sadly, you will always be your money’s worst enemy unless and until you get a grip on your biases and behaviors that prevent you from being an emotionally intelligent investor. We are human. We all have habits, biases, reflexes, attitudes, behaviors, prejudices, instincts, fears and frustrations, and all of them show up in our portfolios.
No, you are not weird, and you are not alone.
We mortals don’t have access to Wall Street’s Super Duper Artificial Intelligence Smarty Pants Algorithmic Trading apparatus (which also gets it wrong). We, the little folk, have to rely on our ability to scrutinize and exercise self-control. Not only do we need to grow some thick skin, we need to learn the nuts and bolts of successfully managing the external foes, and deep dive into our own internal antagonists, because you can’t fix the investment without first fixing the investor.