Yogi_BearWhen I was younger, one of my favorite cartoon characters was Yogi Bear. Yogi and I share a passion for food. If you remember his antics, you recall that Yogi was always trying to find ways to steal picnic baskets. Here was a guy looking for the proverbial “free lunch.” Now we all know there is no such thing. Yet, as I get ready to write about diversification of investment portfolios, Yogi somehow comes to mind. Diversifying your investments is in some ways analogous to a free lunch.
This is a question I have encountered recently and it’s a good one. Before answering though I have to propose another question, “Why should it?” Or, perhaps more specifically, “Is the S&P 500 (or the Dow for that matter) a proper benchmark, i.e., the proper comparison to make versus your portfolio?”
Planning is about answering the questions, "When can I retire?" and "Will I have enough money to last my lifetime?" Planning starts with generating ideas about what you need and want in retirement. Visualizing what retirement looks like for you is a step in planning that tends to be overlooked. Planning for the future can seem abstract, almost like fantasizing. In order for us to get excited about it and hold it as a goal, it needs to be attractive to us. We will be more likely to put our money toward it if it is something real in our mind's eye.
What Every Lawyer Should Know About Financial Planning – a No-Nonsense, No-Sales Workshop for Smart, Busy LawyersJeff Stoffer2016-10-28T16:35:52-07:00
On October 16th and 22nd the California State Bar Association is offering two complimentary seminars on financial planning. The sessions will run from 9am. to approximately 1pm. at the Cal Bar offices at 180 Howard St. in San Francisco. Additionally, an LCE hour is offered the afternoon of the presentation.
It seems impossible to escape the financial news. You might even ask yourself, “Why should I care?” The answer is, you probably shouldn’t. The point is that we’re bombarded with all kinds of “information” that is supposedly making us more informed about markets and investing. The ‘news’ usually focuses on telling us what has happened. It certainly doesn’t help inform us of what is likely to happen.
I was helping someone recently, a newer client. I’ll call her Maddie, sixty-ish and recently retired. What struck me and inspired me to write this was seeing the changes in her in just a few meetings. People come to financial planners when they’re worried about something. So initially I see people’s trepidation around money and the future. In that state they are mostly skeptical and uncertain. They often realize they could have done better with their money and have some shame and regrets, but they are seeing me because they want to change what has been and make some great choices for the future. Maddie was afraid she’d run out of money in ten or fifteen years.
I realize many people are skeptical that stocks are a good way to save for retirement. It can seem like such a gamble or leap of faith. They just don’t trust that their hard earned dollars will be there when needed.
“Will I run out of money before I die?” I wish I could say there was a simple yes or no answer to that question. The answer is more complex, the result of many factors including probability, luck and skill. Nicholas Taleb in his book, Fooled by Randomness, highlights some of the ways in which common tendencies of the human mind interfere with clear decision-making. He begins by asserting that luck plays a larger role in our lives than we realize. We tend not to see it for a number of reasons.
Some time ago, I remember being able to find a delicious bottle of French wine for six dollars. Now the same wine, from the same winery, costs $20. Is it really over three times better than it was back then? Obviously not! It is just more expensive. Welcome to inflation. Rising prices erode purchasing power, making us poorer over time.
I love lists like this; they almost always include at least one idea worth pursuing. I hope the same will be true for you here. In offering these top ten tips my wish is to help you start the New Year making conscious choices about money and spending in ways that support your values. Money and quality of life are integral to our sense of well-being and our outlook for the future. By aligning your values, goals and actions you take steps today to create a more meaningful life and future, regardless of your financial resources.
According to Webster, the word “hedge,” as it relates to investments, originally meant “a means of protection or defense (as against financial loss.)” Hedge funds can be used to diversify a portfolio and reduce risk by providing investments that do not move in the same direction at the same time. If your portfolio consists entirely of U.S. stocks, you might choose to invest in something else that cushions the blow when stocks decline – an alternative investment that would appreciate when stocks decline.
It is time once again to serve up a little kitchen advice to help us become better investors. In planning a special meal, we not only want to fulfill our immediate desires, but also strive to create a well-balanced culinary experience. Some of the techniques for preparing a successful meal can also be applied to improving your investment portfolio.