Silence the Investment Critic in Your Head

It’s time to fire the worst financial consultant you have ever had. You know the one. The one taking the opposite position of everything you do and leading you to second-guess your choices.

Unfortunately, you can’t. The consultant is in your mind.

There are many things you are probably telling yourself, almost none of which are helpful. So let’s turn those voices into something more productive.

“The markets are down. I will never be able to retire.”

I am assuming you had a reasonably diversified portfolio, and if so, then quell this voice. When financial professionals talk about safe withdrawal rates or the 4% Rule, it always includes markets like this.

Markets dropped precipitously in March and April of 2020 and the fourth quarter of 2018, but those who held on did fine. Ah, but this is different. It certainly is. We are actually getting decent yields on cash and bonds! Expected future returns go up when markets go down, so don’t get overly dramatic during periods of volatility.

“The elections are coming and if my candidates don’t win, everything is going to blow up.”

Voices in your head are terrible prognosticators and have short memories.

Elections matter for how society is shaped, but their impact on the markets are less predictable. Markets react to short-term events, but long-term returns are based on a combination of future earnings, dividends and the price people are willing to pay for each. While the voice in your head may be screaming disaster is ahead, listening to it may be more disastrous.

“The economy stinks.”

Markets recover before the economy does. Remember March 2009. It was the middle of the financial crisis, we were in a mild recession, hundreds of thousands of jobs were being lost and the stock market was up 20% from March through May.

We don’t know when things will recover, but it will happen while the voice is telling you that you are dumb to be invested.

“Why would I own anything but the S&P?”

Your voice was not asking that question in 2010, when the S&P did nothing for the previous 10 years. But it is probably shouting it loudly now.

Diversification works whether you want it to or not.

That voice in your head can occasionally be right, but it is not one you should bank your future on.

Spend your life wisely.

Related: This Is the Exact Moment To Put Cash to Work