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“10 stocks to own NOW!”

“Give up lattes to get your budget in order.”

“The stocks/sectors/countries you MUST invest in!”

“Who was the best mutual fund manager of the year?”

I offer you none of that: no stock picks, no predictions, no economic analysis.

I am not going to tell you to “buy this, sell that.” I can’t for the simple reason I have no idea who you are, what your financial goals are, what taxes you owe, what you earn, how much you have saved and how old you are. Without knowing those factors (and other relevant information), how can anyone tell you what is right for you?

Instead, I am going to share 5 ideas with you.

1.      How can you better understand money? Over the years I have come to think of money as a tool; it allows me to buy the necessities, as well as security, comfort, memories and the occasional toy.

I obtain money by trading my time for it, which is a (very) finite resource. Many people do not seem to understand what money can and cannot buy for you. Some do not realize how expensive it is to buy money with their time.

2.     What am I getting wrong? Simple fact: You will be wrong, quite often and, occasionally, quite spectacularly.

The key to being wrong well is to not waste it. Ask yourself this question: What can I learn from my mistakes? Thomas Edison once said “I haven’t failed, I just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work”

3.     Become comfortable with basic math and statistics: You cannot be an investor and not have a basic understanding of numbers. You have to be able to review your returns, review your quarterly statements, and be able to figure out how well or poorly you are doing. You have to be able to calculate how much money you are going to need to live on once you stop working. This is where a financial plan comes in.

4.     Eliminate noise and distractions: You want less of the distracting nonsense that interferes with letting your investments work for you. Most people spend too much time on irrelevant noise. They end up with too much information, but it is all of the wrong kind. They rely on anecdotes and narratives instead of data (and data is NOT knowledge). And they easily confuse short term concerns of the media with their much longer term investing goals.

5.      How am I spending my time? How do I want to spend my time? This is a very important question, one that many folks don’t think about until it’s way too late. Time is an extremely limited resource, one that you should use appropriately. Are you spending this finite resource doing things you dislike, or are you pursuing things that give you the most satisfaction? Remember, everybody gets the same 24 hours each day. What differentiates some people from others is how they spend that precious resource. Spend your time doing what you want, and trust an advisor to look after your investments. It’s what we want to do.