This will be my final post here at Alpha Baskets (the AdvisorShares blog); I am moving on from AdvisorShares after a little over four years. For my parting shot, I wanted to try to summarize some of the bigger picture ideas that we’ve discussed here and tie them together on my way out the door.
Investing: Keep it simple. If you stick to funds or individual issues that you can own in a brokerage account, you will likely get the job done where the job is defined as having enough money when you need it, like when you retire.
In the name of simplicity, remember that the stock market has had an average annual return of 7-10% depending on the period studied. The average annual return over your investing period, combined with an adequate savings rate, a proper asset allocation and avoidance of self-destructive behaviors can get you very close to where you need to be.
Market declines are normal and tend to repeat the same patterns; they are never different. The circumstances are different, but the market manifestations are not. They go down a lot, scare the hell out of people, stop going down for whatever reason and then go on to make a new high. The only variable appears to be how long that all takes. If you no longer believe in that, then you may not want to own equities.
Retirement: For most people, retirement has evolved into a different thing. There is a need for resourcefulness and adaptability that wasn’t needed 20-30 years ago. Or perhaps more accurately stated, more people will need to think outside the lines of a typical retirement to make their later years work financially. Don’t wait until you retire to realize you might need to be resourceful and adaptive to make your later years work financially. Paraphrasing Joe Moglia, no one will care more about your retirement than you do.
Lifestyle: Do what you can to live below your means and save money. I’ve cited Nassim Taleb many times as saying we all learned everything we need to about personal finance from our grandmothers; save money, don’t go into debt. That may be easier said than done but could make our lives much easier on countless levels by being under-mortgaged, having no car payments and not having a mountain of credit card debt.
Volunteerism: If you’ve been reading my content here and elsewhere over the years you know how important I believe it is to give back. Not just for the people you help but I believe you benefit immensely by giving your time. With volunteering, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.
Health & Fitness: It is my opinion everything in your life may be easier if you are fit. You will be able to do the things you like for longer and you will spend less money on medical expenses. We start to lose muscle mass in our late 20s. This leads to problems if you don’t do some sort of strength training to offset that muscle deflation. Take the time to learn how important this is. Likewise, cardiovascular health. At the very least, if you take a trip somewhere you’d probably prefer to be able to make the most of the experience by seeing as many of the things that interest you as possible.
This is where cardiovascular fitness comes in. In terms of diet, take the time to learn how bad carbohydrates are and why it is important to reduce carbohydrate intake. All the things we associate as being bad about a “fatty” diet are actually bad about a “sugary" diet. This is very difficult to wrap your head around; do the research and draw your own conclusion. In just three words: don’t drink soda.
Wealth: If you make enough to pay your bills, save a little for the future and have some left over to have some fun, then you will most likely be better off than most people and getting to that point does not necessarily require having a lot of money.
Thanks to AdvisorShares for the last four years and to you for reading my posts here. You can continue to follow my blog posts here at Seeking Alpha and at ETFmaven.com.
Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.