BALANCE AND SIMPLICITY - WHY IS IT SO HARD TO ATTAIN?
Written By: Brent Brinker
There are a multitude of topics and directions our minds can go when looking at investment ideas and options for ourselves and saving for the future. I’m a Financial Adviser by day and take it seriously that my clients need sound advice to block out all the ‘noise’ from the headlines thrown at them in the day to day world of hyper intensive media outlets. Those outlets are in the business of capturing our attention and diverting our thoughts. Often, I’m asked questions about this news topic or that world event and how will it impact one’s investment portfolio or long-term plan.
The key to the last statement is long-term. We need to convert our short-term attention spans and outlooks into the long-term. Focus on the controllable elements in your plan, such as investment risk levels based on your age and time horizon. Don’t be tempted to adjust these based on the short-term headlines and block out the noisy distractions. Those outlets are attempting to derail you from achieving long-term goals, and I set out each day to fend them off for my clients.
This leads me into the premise of this writing. My industry is notorious for creating confusion. Information is rapidly changing, and new products are presented to investors daily. Advertisements promote to good to be true opportunities, talking heads on news stations bring up hot stock purchase ideas constantly, and your neighbor or friend down the street is bragging about an investment that they own and have made handsome profits on. These new ideas begin to pull on us and attempt to persuade us into making a change. The most successful long-term investors have one thing in common in my experiences with them, and it’s not their impeccable record of selecting and chasing after great ideas presented in investment newsletters. It is their ability to keep financial planning and investment portfolio construction simple with a long-term vision. They aren’t concerned with being market experts using fancy timing techniques. These strategies define the opposite of simple – they are complex. Unless you are a full-time stock market strategist or cutthroat hedge fund manager, it is a game that beginners and amateurs will nearly always lose in a world full of professionals.
Now to my last point and that is a focus on balance. I’m not going to discuss balance in the sense of a ‘balanced’ portfolio but balance in our financial and personal lives. In one’s financial life, balance can provide a little bit of pleasure now for hard work today and in the future to live in a comfortable retirement. We all have heard, and financial professionals preach on the ‘start early’ saving for retirement strategy. Is it the only focus one should have? Save every penny earned and cling to it until that magical day of retirement where I will spend it down over my glory years until my last breath. I’ll maybe even be storing away more than enough for myself and spouse, so now my children and their children will be able to find the path to retirement much more comfortable. There’s nothing wrong with any of this, nor is there anything wrong with the flip side of ‘living for today’ if that’s one’s prerogative. I would say, however, that a healthy ‘balance’ in the middle with a slight lean to the saving side of the equation will produce future monetary comfort while not breaking one’s back today for a retirement that may end abruptly or unexpectedly.
Some of my favorite client conversations involve those who have been responsible in saving, have lived within their means along the way, and are now in retirement. They have come to the realization that ‘I can now do this or purchase that or help this family member or charity’. The ultimate work and life balance is difficult to attain, no doubt about it. I’m here to help you realize the benefits of financial balance and simplicity so that the work and life picture become clearer.