We humans love to take simple things and overcomplicate them. When searching for a solution we have a tendency to want to add steps or processes versus eliminating them. This is certainly true in investing. The financial media is filled with all manner of complicated, expensive, tax-unfriendly strategies that are meant to solve a problem.
For the vast majority of investors, a simple diversified portfolio of low-cost index funds will get the job done. What would happen if we apply this same mindset to the rest of our lives?
When it comes to food, Michael Pollan is famous for having a simple credo when it comes to eating:
“I’ve boiled it down to seven words: Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.”
This week I came across two different articles that discussed simple, body-weight exercise routines. In the Washington Post, Gretchen Reynolds wrote:
“Overall, the study shows a basic bodyweight workout “can definitely be called high-intensity exercise,” Bellissimo said. More precisely, she continued, the running and bodyweight workouts both count as high-intensity interval training or HIIT, one of the buzziest of fitness terms.”
In the other article Hillary Achauer in the New York Times talks about a simple exercise routine that can get your heart rate going.
“One of Mr. Howell’s favorite full-body, no-equipment, time-efficient workouts is simple and can be scaled to any fitness level or ability. The workout is: Five body weight squats, five push-ups and a 30-second plank — repeated six times, resting for no more than 30 seconds between rounds.”
You don’t need a fancy gym, or equipment to get a good workout. Just like investing, no fancy stuff required. Choosing simplicity is no small thing. Phil Pearlman writes:
“The world is also getting more complicated and so things are harder to understand even without all the big words. Complexity is everywhere and it is exhausting.”
Phil is able to boil down his health philosophy down to an index card. There are index cards worth checking out that focus in on personal finance here and here. Anything that forces us to simplify, pushes us in the right direction. Investing isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. The same is true for other, more vital, parts of our lives as well.