Something took a bite out of Bitcoin. Since January, digital currencies have lost 70 percent of their value. “Crypto” currencies and actual crypts may have something in common … death. Too often investors believe shiny magic trinkets can provide monetary salvation. Sometimes it’s a promise of outsized returns or a “no-risk” product. Searching for financial alchemy can be tempting because it seems a big score will solve your financial problems. But it’s fool’s gold. In reality, focusing on mundane financial tasks and doing an average job on them over your lifetime practically assures you can reach your goals.
Maintain an appropriate savings rate while you work and a sustainable spending rate when you don’t. A poor investor with good savings habits will trounce an outstanding investor with poor savings habits. No one ever said, “Five years later, I still regret not buying those shoes.”
A client recently rescheduled a meeting because he was taking a college placement exam. In his situation going back to college allows his income to grow. Additional education is a way to nurture human capital and often provides a tremendous return on investment. Taking advantage of additional training either through attending conferences or learning new technologies is another way to grow human capital.
Develop an asset allocation suitable for your goals, time horizon, and risk tolerance. According to conventional wisdom, young people should take more risk because retirement is so far away. However, some young people have low-risk tolerances, and it’s neither good or bad. Stock-heavy portfolios lost between 35 and 40 percent during 2008. Eschew percentages, crank up your calculator and put the losses in real numbers. Focus on the need to take risk and avoid unnecessary risk. Aim to reach your goals with the lowest stock allocation possible. You may not live long enough to recoup the inevitable declines.
Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish with insurance. Families with dependent children often have inadequate life insurance. Use me as an example. Our children are grown, but when they were young, we were woefully underinsured. By one report, Florida is the worst state to have an automobile accident. One in every four cars is either uninsured or underinsured, but uninsured motorist coverage is optional. Luxury homes often need policies designed for them. Don’t skimp on liability protection either.
Be mindful of behavioral, investment and tax costs. Not having an asset allocation plan or an investment strategy can lead to impulse purchases or sales. Hedge funds, variable annuities and some asset managers have exorbitant annual costs. One or 2 percent annually doesn’t sound like much over a multi-decade investing period, the expenses add up. While fees can be bad, the biggest outlay is the toll of irrational decisions. In that light, money spent on professional financial guidance is often money well-spent.
Even though Buz Livingston is a fee-only certified financial planner this should not be considered personal advice. For specific recommendations visit online livingstonfinancial.net or at the office in Redfish Village, 2050 Scenic 30A, M-1 Unit 230.