Recently I came across this sketch posted by best selling financial author and illustrator Carl Richards. The message it conveys has the ring of truth. Most of us want to escape the constant stress that so often comes whenever we think or talk about money. As Richards says, “ Money is insanely emotional because of what it often represents. When we talk about money we are talking about our closest-held dreams and goals.” Much of our educational outreach at Financial Plan, Inc. is designed to reduce stress among investors. In fact, we think it is important enough to be the subject of our company mission, which is: To Deliver Peace Of Mind Through Financial Security I will venture to say that our clients for the most part are less stressed about money than the investing public at large. All of those meetings in which we discuss the big picture and take action toward future success based upon a well-thought- out financial plan, have paid off in terms of peace of mind. However, none of us are completely immune to the noise from the “barking dogs”; the title I have given to the mob of financial reporters, investment salesmen, newsletter writers, misguided friends, and self-proclaimed gurus who bombard us daily with one fear-inducing prognostication after another. Even the most unwavering among us can’t help but be influenced by the continual drumbeat of those who tell us that the world is coming to an end. It is instructive to identify some of the sources of financial stress, and to avoid them when possible. One unsatisfactory solution is to simply stop thinking about money. This “head in the sand” approach is what is employed by the majority of people, with the predictable failure that inevitably results. Another solution is to look at our account balances on a less frequent basis. This is probably good advice, as it is common knowledge among advisors that clients who view their balances frequently tend to think in shorter time frames. This can lead to a desire to trade securities based upon short-term price movement; rarely a good idea. Still another approach is to turn off the financial media and watch “Jersey Shore” instead. They are equally ridiculous, but at least Jersey Shore won’t impoverish you (other than morally). The financial media seeks to excite viewers and readers to keep them interested. They do this by over-sensationalizing the economy and the markets. The bits of actual information are presented in a fragmented and confusing way; sure to instill stress and confusion among consumers. Turn them off! But in my mind the most effective way to reduce financial stress is to get your own financial house in order. We cannot control the economy or the markets, but we can take charge of our own financial plan. A secure investor is one who knows what his or her goals are, and who has taken action toward achieving them. An investor who is at peace is one who understands that meaningful time frames in the market are thirty years, not thirty days. Tumultuous markets and fear-inducing economic and political catastrophes are part of everyday life. Don’t let them derail your financial plan or cause you undue worry. As I like to say: “Let the dogs bark!” Keep one ear closed to the distractions, and one ear wide open for good, sound financial advice. This little guy knows what I’m talking about! Read the full newsletter.
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