Making the rounds in my social media sphere this week is The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans, an article by Neal Gabler published in The Atlantic. The provocative subtitle reveals the shameful secret: “Nearly half of Americans would have trouble finding $400 to pay for an emergency. I’m one of them.” The nearly penniless (or … Continued
Category: Behavioral Aspects of Finance
Stock market news can be helpful. But it can also be harmful.
It may be useful for understanding conversations surrounding the stock market. For example, I’ve noticed that positive reports on consumer spending and employment tend to result in day-over-day market gains. Knowing that an increase in my portfolio’s value is due partly to happy investor sentiment and general economic well-being, not necessarily to my genius, can keep me from being overly confident.
But commentary disguised as news can lead me astray. For example, I’ve sold shares at what was touted as a good price only to see the price grow 50% in the subsequent 12 months. In addition, I’ve had to fight the desire to completely cash out after reading doom-and-gloom predictions; my energy should be spent devising strategies and taking firm actions, not fretting about the future.
Still, consuming stock market news has helped me to learn how markets often react to certain types of news in the short term and whether these newsworthy events impact me in the long term. Having these insights has made me a more relaxed investor.
Learn about the information I find useful and my favorite place to get stock market news:
In The Millionaire Next Door, Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D. and William D. Danko, Ph.D. coin the term “economic outpatient care” (EOC). This term references economic subsidies that a benefactor bestows on a fully capable adult, generally a parent who provides financial assistance to a grown child.
The irony of EOC is that these subsidies — which may be intended to provide the recipient with the means to become financially stable — may have the opposite effect. Gifts create economic dependence instead of accelerating financial independence.
Initially, I imagined that EOC is a problem associated with wealthy families like those profiled in the “millionaire” books. But even average-income families give and receive EOC.
>When I was younger, I wrestled with whether to pay off debt, build a cash reserve, or invest for the long-term future? Each was important. Yet, they seemed like conflicting, even mutually exclusive goals.
For example, if I paid extra on any credit card balances or my mortgage loan, then I’d have less cash in the bank or fewer dollars to contribute to retirement and college-savings accounts. I could earn a guaranteed return that is equal to loan interest rates if I paid down debt. But then I’d forgo the potential for compound growth in the stock market.
What I learned was that a positive move — whether making a loan payment, increasing my cash reserve, or investing for the future — can increase my net worth. I don’t have to choose the best move to make. I simply have to take one of these actions and, at the same time, avoid taking on additional debt or spending more than I just saved.