Wired to Conform?

Jason Zweig wrote an excellent book called “Your Money & Your Brain,” which I have written about repeatedly, because it is so dang good (!). While it is focused around people’s behavior around money, it’s also an excellent study of the odd behaviors we humans can exhibit because of how our brains are wired. Specifically, the book discusses the reflexive emotions that are built into us, things like fear, greed, and regret. The book is full of great examples of people acting in strange, irrational, or plain stupid ways, the…

Counterfactual Thinking, that Sneaky Mechanism of the Mind

Investing is based the hope that assets you buy (whatever they may be) will provide (much) more value in the long run than the amount paid to buy them. This is a simple idea, yet along the way to harvesting your investment fruits, your psychological resolve will be tested again and again, since investments, especially potentially-rewarding ones, are unpredictable. They contain inherent uncertainty, since no one knows exactly what they will do at any given point of time. And there is not much that humans hate more than uncertainty. None…

The Only Thing We Have to Fear…

In his excellent book “Your Money and Your Brain,” Jason Zweig writes with extensively-researched detail about the ways that strong human emotions (such as fear, greed, regret, and surprise) can distort our perceptions and lead people people to take actions that may not serve their long-term best interest. While his book deals primarily with how people are with their money, his overview of neuroscience is broadly applicable to humans today, when the widespread Pandemic of Fear (No, not Corona–fear of Corona!) has got people stocking their pantries with toilet paper…

What I’ve Learned as an Investor So Far

I still feel like a relative newbie in the area of personal finances, and investing specifically. I was interested in the topic a long time ago, but my investing efforts really launched about 4 1/2 years ago, when I decided that from now on, I am a Dedicated Investor (thank you very much!). Since then, I have read dozens of books on the subject, from Benjamin Graham’s “The Intelligent Investor” (very challenging despite helpful commentary from Jason Zweig, who edited the recent edition) to Tony Robbins’ populist “Money: Master the…

Day 319: Don’t Just Do Something… Sit There! (Part 2)

Today my phone, with it’s knowledge of my online reading habits, suggested that I read this article, which is about buy and hold investing. Specifically, the author makes the point of how difficult it can be holding onto stocks for the long run, without making any regrettable emotional decisions. The author uses an example of a company whose stock went up 80 times what it was worth in 2000. This, of course, is incredible growth. If you started with only $1000 in that stock back then, you’d end up with…

Day 304: Don’t just do something… sit there!

Several years ago, my wife got me a subscription to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. Generally, I enjoy flipping through it, as everything in the magazine tends to be about managing one’s money well. The latest issue describes possible ways of earning a higher return, the front covering proclaiming “33 Ways to Get Higher Yields: Earn Up to 12% with Our Favorite Income Investments.” Of course, who wouldn’t want to earn up to 12%? Sure, it might not be mind-blowing earnings, but for us little guys, it’s a solid return. (Case…

Day 130: My 2018 Reading List

As I have written before,  I love to read.  In fact, (because I’m such an uber-tracker I guess), I have written down the books I have read for the past four years.   I started to do this the same time I took on a weekday morning ritual of reading (along with writing my “morning pages”) before I do anything else. Here’s the list of books I’ve read this year (so far): FINANCIAL/BUSINESS: 1. Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!, by Nicholas Carlson, 357pp. (Informative and compelling book going…

Day 82: Staying Grounded in the Middle of the Turmoil

I got a little bit of a shock today when I checked my phone and saw that the stock market had gone down 3%.  And not for the first time in recent days:  I saw a similar drop last week.  The question that I (and probably millions of other people) couldn’t help but ask is, what does this mean for the market going forward? The second question I asked myself:  How well prepared will I be for whatever happens? Despite today’s surprise, in my relatively brief investing career of 3…