Josh Brown at the Reformed Broker has a thought-provoking post up asking how investors should think about how they use their time. Josh writes:
If you had twenty five years left to live, how much time would you spend worrying about the daily ups and downs of the stock market?
If you had twenty years left to live, how much time would you spend trying to time the stock markets and the economy and other things that are both unpredictable and completely out of your control?
If you had fifteen years left to live, how much time would you spend trying to buy or sell a specific stock at the perfect price?
Josh goes on but the point is clear. We investors spend a great deal of time worrying about thing that ultimately don’t really matter. In my book where I note the fact that vast majority investors really don’t have the time (or inclination) to get into the nitty gritty details of investing. By extension most investors should follow a strategy involving a low cost, broadly diversified portfolio strategy that leaves more time for other life endeavors. I wrote in the last paragraph from my book, Abnormal Returns: Winning Strategies from the Frontlines of the Investment Blogosphere:
A humble approach to the markets is an essential step in bringing our investing lives into balance, because for most of us investing isn’t really what matters. Our investments are there to serve our goals, not the other way around. What matters are the opportunities that those investments ultimately provide us to live richer, more fulfilling lives.
This is in direct contrast with how many traders view the world. Brian Lund in a recent post writes at-length about why traders of all kinds take such an interest in trading and the markets. Brian writes:
On the surface we convince ourselves that we trade for a number of reasons; to gain wealth, for the challenge, or for the freedom it brings, and though all these things may factor in to some extent, there are certainly other activities we could have chosen to pursue that would fit the bill. But in fact, the real reason we trade is to experience that more concentrated, more intense, micro version of the larger quest for the meaning of life. Or to put it another way, if everyday living is the coffee of life, then trading is the double espresso.
From the perspective of how we spend our time, whether it be trading or investing, is an important one. Some of the biggest errors we make is when we confuse one approach for the other. In the end One thing we all have in common is that we have a limited amount of time. The question is how are you going to best spend it?