After a Sour Year in Stocks, Focus On Understanding Your Fear and Greed

Markets fell concurrently with the Times Square ball dropping to bring in 2022.

As awful as that may have felt, it is the fee that you have to pay in order to realize the long-term benefits of investing.

But did the falling markets affect you more than they needed to?

Falling markets are good for three things: improving expected future returns for investors, buying investments if you have the cash and uncovering our fear and greed.

So let’s focus on the third piece: How do we understand our fear and greed and focus on why we invest in the first place?

You can ultimately only either spend your money or give it away. Every dollar you sock away is either in the future going to be spent by you or given to others to spend — charity, friends, family or the government.

Your investments will go up or down until you use them. If you want to take a lot of risk, you will have big swings with your investments. If you are well diversified, you will still have swings, but they should not be as dramatic.

How you manage yourself during those swings is a critical investment lesson.

All investors experience regret — they either didn’t buy enough of what went up or bought too much of what went down. But regret does not provide lessons.

The regret of not buying enough bitcoin when it was rocketing up pales to what you felt as you held it on its way down. Now you are playing the game of do I buy more, do I sell when it gets back to a certain price or do I walk away. The question to ask is how did you even get on the roller coaster. Hint: It probably involved greed.

We may explain our decisions analytically, but they usually begin emotionally. A friend made a bunch of money in crypto, gave some explanation as to why, and even as your eyes glazed over you jumped in.

While some people are lucky enough to get rich quickly, getting rich slowly is far more predictable.

But focusing on getting rich is for the ego. The idea of investing is to have the money you want to spend when you want to spend it. Yet this is mostly about differentiating between wants and needs. The less you want, the less money you need. Managing your wants gives you the best chance for having a better 2023.

Related: Giving Feeds Our Soul, so Why Do We Worry About It So Much?