Topic of the Week Money Shot
- Maintain two accounts.
- Don't expect to beat the market.
- Spending matters.
- Know when to fold.
A conversation with a friend recently moved from the stock market to our personal financial plans for the future. His response? "My secret, win the lottery." But even more important than having a plan for our own financial future is the need to discuss money with our kids. This is one of the most often overlooked responsibilities of being a parent. Which reminds me of when my younger daughter once told me that she'd found a ten dollar bill. I asked where she found it and she said, "On the floor in your closet."
Unfortunately for many kids, that's how money works. It just appears in your home, in a car seat or even in a wallet. And for many parents the money conversation never goes much further than a weekly "allowance and chores" conversation. Okay, I have a hidden agenda here. I'm writing this column to give to my older daughter the financial pep talk that I've known that I should have done a while ago. Who knows? It would be great if this motivates you to have the Benjamin conversation with your kids, nieces, nephews, whatever. Or maybe even yourself.
Maintain two accounts. Let's face it, your paycheck is mostly about paying bills, not the future. The way to create a foundation is to have another account for your savings. Not a bank savings account, at current interest rates it would take you forever to save anything. No, you need an account that you don't touch until you retire. The key is to contribute to it regularly. If your company has a matching 401(K) match, squeeze every dollar that you can out of them, this is as close free money as you can get.
Don't expect to beat the market. Friends will often tell you about the stocks that they had that went through the roof. But those same friends will seldom tell you about the bigger share of their portfolio that went south. As my finance professor in college said, remember there are thousands of professionals with more information, be happy if you match the market.
Spending matters. Okay, this is the unsexy part of finance. The less you spend the more you have to invest. Splurge occasionally, but look for all the opportunities that you can to conserve your hard earned cash.
Know when to fold. We've all heard the phrase "buy low, sell high." It's often easy to do half of that equation. For example, I'm great at finding a stock that's undervalued and jumping in. The problem is that I have a much tougher time selling the stock when it starts to drop. Know your investing weak spot and figure out ways to play to your strengths and to avoid having your weaknesses haunt you.
My favorite philosophy of money comes from Mickey Mantle. "I'd taken care of myself better if I'd known that I was going to live this long." Save money over the long haul and you can stay away from those lottery tickets.
Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org.