Time cures a lot of things. The problem is, we sometimes don’t allow time to work for us. If you could look back to the present from a few years into the future, what would you do differently? What would you focus on? What would you let go?
If you’re honest in this mental exercise, you will conclude that time smooths out a lot of the bumps of day-to-day life. If you can tune out the noise, then it’s possible to make real progress towards goals that matter most.
1. In the present, you may be concerned that stock prices are “too high”. 10 or 20 years from now, you’ll realize that trying to pick and choose the “right” level for stock prices is meaningless. What really matters is that failing to own stocks for the long term usually means failing to achieve financial goals.
2. Market research, economic forecasting and analyzing past investment performance (with the errant idea of trying to identify superior performance), is mostly wasted effort. Accept the long-term returns of a globally diversified portfolio, knowing that you will beat almost all of those chasing short-term performance.
3. Today you may worry over dozens of small things that simply won’t make a difference in a few years time. Reframe your thinking so that you get beyond the daily slew of details and focus instead on big picture themes.
4. Think about your stage of life. If you are in the peak earnings years, your human capital, (your ability to earn and save), may be your largest asset. The key, however, is to make certain that over time, that asset is transformed into financial capital because human capital depletes as you age.
5. Carefully consider who you trust. Time is your friend but only if you make choices that help advance you towards your goals. You essentially have three choices. You can trust Wall Street brokers or banks that focus on what is profitable for them. Second, you can trust your neighbors, colleagues or friends who want to impress you with their financial savvy. Third, you can rely on an experienced fiduciary advisor (like our firm.)
Time is one of the most valuable inputs in the financial planning process. It is also an input that we only partially control. We never know precisely how long we have to earn and save before retirement; and once retired, we never precisely how long we need the resources to last. Is time working for you? Against you? Ready for a real conversation?