Is Your Investing Hindsight 20-20?
While Schwab Talk blog was reminiscing about 1992 – the year we established the Mutual Fund OneSource® service – members of our Client Connection online community were talking about how their personal investing style has changed in the past 20 years.
“It is the classic case of the turtle and the hare,” Joyce B. said. Other clients agreed that, when it comes to investing, slow and steady wins the race.
“In 1992 I was almost a day trader – maybe a week trader. I was looking for the new and undiscovered money maker. I even tried penny stocks,” wrote Terry H. “Now, I am a patient investor with few trades and still holding on to long-term stocks.”
Many clients remembered 1992 as a time when “we really didn’t have an investing strategy,” as Mary N. said. “We had one daughter in college and another who was bound and determined to go to medical school. All our discretionary income went to ‘investing’ in their education.”
On the other hand, David B. was able to plan for the education of his two young daughters. “I set up a trust fund for them, put the equivalent of one year of private college costs for each daughter into the fund and managed it aggressively for the next 16 years,” David wrote. “By the time the first daughter when to college, the fund had grown in size to cover all four years of both daughters’ expenses at an Ivy League.”
And where are those daughters, 20 years later? “My first daughter will graduate from college next spring (with honors), and the job prospects are tenuous at best. She's contemplating pushing right ahead to the PhD – sadly, not something I contemplated having to fund 20 years ago.”
While David worked toward a financial goal, many of us find ourselves in the category of “random investors.”
“Twenty years ago, I was investing randomly, sometimes on tips from friends and coworkers,” wrote Dave B., who admitted he was investing without a plan, financial goal or asset allocation. “It is hard to know how much of a difference what I know and do today would have made over the years. I think the most important thing I have done is SAVE and INVEST regularly!”
None of us have a crystal ball. That’s why taking time to look back at your investing plan can be a wise move. In fact, one of our Schwab experts – Vice President of Financial Planning Rande Spiegelman – has written a column for Schwab.com about how to measure progress toward your long-term goals. He offers a four-step process:
1. Benchmark your portfolio’s performance
2. Measure the performance of individual investments
3. Assess your personal net worth
4. Make or update your savings and investment plan
Rande summarizes the discipline of financial planning this way: “Remember, measuring progress toward your goals involves much more than simply focusing on the performance of your investments. It's a comprehensive look at your spending and saving habits, debt management, tax planning, gifting and more—all within the context of the economic, financial and market environment. Remember, too, that planning is not a one-time event, but an ongoing, lifelong discipline.”
So maybe it’s not a waste of time at all to be thinking back over the past 10 or 20 years of investing. Tell us about your investing hindsight – here, on our @CharlesSchwab Twitter channel, or on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages.
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