If you have ever watched a youth soccer game, you’ve seen it. Basically, the players observe where everyone is headed (towards the ball), and follow suit. It doesn’t matter where the ball is located on the field or what position the child is in–they’re going after it with all their might! While it’s cute to watch, this cluster of uniformed chaos creates a hive of activity and works against them, making it difficult to move down the field.
In soccer, this behavior becomes less of an issue over time as the player learns the sport. In the world of personal finance, this type of behavior is referred to as herd mentality, a type of “behavioral bias”, and may not go away over time. And unfortunately, your own behavioral biases are often the greatest threat to your financial well-being.
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Many people view budgeting as a never-ending exercise in self-denial, characterized primarily by the word “no”. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Instead, think about budgeting as the connective tissue between where your money is going this week, this month or even this year and the life in retirement you’re working toward. When seen in that light, budgeting can be remade into an affirmative tool, an integral part of a fruitful and constructive financial rhythm aligned with your values and goals. And regardless of where you are financially, consider this: Staying within the reasonable guidelines you’ve set with your budget is like saying “yes” to a fulfilling retirement.
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If you enjoy a good read, we’d recommend Warren Buffett’s annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder letters. While financial reports are rarely much fun, Buffett’s way with words never ceases to impress. His most recent 2016 letter was no exception, including this powerful insight about market downturns:
“During such scary periods, you should never forget two things: First, widespread fear is your friend as an investor, because it serves up bargain purchases. Second, personal fear is your enemy.”
This actually is a good time to talk about scary markets, since we haven’t experienced a severe one in a while.
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