In their book, Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes, Gary Belski and Thomas Gilovich state: “Numerous studies over the years have demonstrated significant overconfidence in the judgments of doctors, lawyers, engineers, psychologists, and securities analysts.” According to these findings, highly educated people seem to see their “smarts” in one area as evidence that they are more knowledgeable in other areas as well. But it’s not just professionals who fall prey to this belief. It appears to be part of human nature generally to over-estimate our abilities. For instance, in rating our skills at driving, how many of us think we are “smarter than the average bear?”
Consider the following scenario. You are perusing the menu at a restaurant, deciding what to order. The fresh, local salmon in a piquant sauce with sun gold tomatoes and basil has your mouth watering. It is $32. You definitely want fish, but immediately conclude that the salmon is simply “too expensive.” No, can’t do that. So you order cod, perfectly respectable, broiled – but plain – at $22. It arrives. It’s OK – but it isn’t what you really wanted. We’ve all experienced this type of automatic compromise that seems so sensible we accept it as the “right” decision. Such thinking may become an unconscious principle behind our money decisions. This is the smart thing to do. But is it? Why do we so often deny ourselves what we really want? One obvious answer is that it is about the money. Ten dollars is . . . well, ten dollars.
It’s the sort of thing people ask friends and acquaintances. Recently at the gym I happened to overhear a conversation that began with this question. Unfortunately, I was on my way into the shower and didn’t get to hear the answer. It’s an intriguing question. What is a “good investment guy” anyway? At some point, you may want to find some investment guidance, too. What should you be looking for?
Many of the women I see in my financial planning practice have been through divorce. Many are experiencing for the first time what it is like to live independently. I hear familiar themes with respect to money —phrases like, “I should have paid more attention,” and “I shouldn’t have assumed my ex-husband knew what he was doing.” Finally, it dawned on me to start asking these women what lessons they would want to pass along to younger women, including their own daughters, about money. What follows are their stories and mistakes. Every one of these women has a valuable lesson to share!
Last month I posted a piece encouraging people to pay attention to their money. This, I argued, was “the one thing” that could make a meaningful difference in peoples’ financial lives. It may strike my readers this month, therefore, as counter-intuitive when I suggest that over-vigilance of one’s investments might backfire. Let me explain.
The stock market has gotten off to a wobbly start in 2016. If this “correction” feels familiar to the one in August of last year, it is because the same reasons are still in play: the economic slowdown in China, fear of Fed rate increases, and the rapid decline in oil prices. World Economic Growth While economic growth in the U.S. remains fair to good, economies in other parts of the world are not doing so well. China, the world’s second largest economy, had been a strong engine of growth. It is now slowing dramatically. Europe is still struggling in the aftermath of the economic meltdown of 2008. Japan is also lagging. Emerging markets have suffered as the threat of Fed interest rate increases spurred investors to look for less risky places to put their money. The U.S. economy does not exist in a vacuum. Weakness in the rest of the world threatens to lead us toward recession.
This week I’ve been reading Thinking Fast and Slow by psychologist Daniel Kahneman. The author received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for his work on cognitive biases in decision-making. Where finances are concerned, we all like to think we make rational decisions, based upon well-considered reasoning. The studies examined in this book suggest otherwise. What is really behind our financial decisions? Here’s a personal example – my “lettuce story.” I am standing in front of the produce section at the grocery store, eyeing a beautiful head of organic romaine. But I’m frozen.
A silly question – maybe? OK, Halloween is over, but I got a bit of a fright when I reviewed a recent survey done by Harris Poll stating: “Nearly three quarters (71 percent) of Americans say some aspect of talking to a financial advisor scares them . . . ” That’s a huge number. What’s going on here?
How do the services of a financial planner compare with those of an adviser, investment manager or other financial person? What does a financial planner do, exactly?
A seemingly straightforward question, yet the answer may not be simple. I like to refer to my favorite metaphor — food preparation. A financial planner helps you create the […]
It has been 14 years, and yet I feel my emotional scar, healed, yet still tender to the touch. Tears still well up. Unfortunately 9/11 was just the first in a series of events that led to my life-changing discovery about money. This is what 9/11 taught me. I was in Manhattan that week for the Merrill Lynch Financial Services Conference (an ironic coincidence…maybe.) It was held at the Pierre Hotel where we listened to bank management talk about their strategies for gaining a “greater share of consumers’ wallets.” I walked out of a morning session to see footage of the second plane hitting the tower.
The last few years in the stock market have actually been quite boring. Up a little, down alittle. We may be lulled into a false sense of security, believing that making money in the stock markets is a foregone conclusion. We become complacent. Sharp declines over the past couple of weeks have jolted many nerves. The markets are currently seeing the biggest correction to hit U.S. stocks in four years. A 10% drop in value is the definition of a “correction.” The S&P dipped over 10% at one point in just a few days. While this can be alarming, such periodic pullbacks can also be instructive. They help to keep greed in check, and remind us that making money in the stock market involves risk.
Lately the media has been frothing over the rocky financial situation in Greece. Banks and stock markets closing, on top of high unemployment and chronic recession – surely these dire circumstances must have important repercussions for investors here, right? How concerned should we be and what should we do?