Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Modest Retirement Proposal (Or Other Savings Account)

First of all, even though what I'm going to say next will seem impossible if you aren't already there yet, keep an open mind.  Nurture and create a saving frame of mind.  If you are not already a "Saver," this will involve embracing change.  If you attack it from a negative, scarcity way of looking at the world, it will seem cumbersome and unfair.  You will be like a dieter watching everyone else eating cupcakes.  So if that is the way you think, you need to change that.  What I did was figure out how much money I had coming in and then kept my frivolous spending above that as low as possible.  I need to point out that, as an adult, there are items that would be "frivolous" spending that once were necessities.  For instance, your clothing allowance.  Many of us enjoy buying a new pair of shoes or a handbag.  Unless you are 20 years old, it is no longer a necessity, but more of a little perk to brighten our day.  I am not a believer in self deprivation.  I believe if you can afford something that will buy you a little bit more happiness, even if that happiness is simply being one of the first to see what whether or not the Imp escaped certain death on The Game of Thrones, you should buy it.  The thing I think most people forget is that they are supposed to be their own best advocate.  When buying tiny bits of happiness for yourself, buy the longer lasting chunks rather than the instant gratification, "I ate Chinese-food and I'm hungry again" variety.  Allow the saved funds to accumulate in your checking account until you have reached your goal amount.  My suggested goal amount is $6500.00.

Think about this.  Let's say you really like Coach handbags.  Were you aware that Coach is a publicly traded stock with the ticker symbol COH?  As I type this, COH is trading at $34.50/share and has a 3.9% dividend.  Really let that sink in.  Let's say you have $3450.00 in your savings account earning less than 1 percent.  You could put that money into COH and earn almost 4%.  Imagine how much fun it would be buying that Coach handbag with earnings from Coach itself.  I know when I'm out with friends and we see evidence of one of the names I am holding, it is great fun to nudge and elbow, point and whisper, "I own them."  Not that I'm suggesting you become obnoxious.  "I own them," does not mean walk up to the sales clerk and bully her because you're a shareholder.  What if you simply embraced your inner John D. Rockefeller or viewed yourself like the drawing of a wealthy man in a game of Monopoly?  What if you had a little fun with your finances and used them to boost your self esteem rather than pigeon hole you as a "have not?"

Have you ever visited a Disney park as a shareholder?  No, Mickey Mouse does not greet you at the gate and likely no one will mention or notice anything different about you, but you can walk around the park feeling just a little bit more like you are a part of the magic.  You can watch all of those other visitors push through the turnstiles knowing that a part of Disney's success will be your success.  (DIS currently trading at $86.54 with a .99% dividend.)

Jonathan Hoenig, porfolio manager at Capitalistpig Hedge Fund LLC and a Fox News contributor, was a Barista at Starbucks when, discouraged at how his paychecks weren't piling up and amassing wealth, he realized he had a better shot at doing that if he bought shares in the company.  (SBUX currently trading at $79.20/share with a 1.33% dividend.)

Think about it.  You could have your electric company pay YOU to pay your bill.  Or your cell service.  Or your favorite restaurant or amusement park.  Need to do some home remodeling?  I do.  How about owning the company that will be selling your contractor his materials?  Consider this list which is just a small portion of the possibilities.

Home Depot - Ticker Symbol HD - currently trading at $81.43 with a dividend of 2.32%
Cedar Fair LP - Ticker Symbol FUN - trading at $52.45 with a dividend of a whopping 5.33%
Six Flags Entertainment Corp - Ticker Symbol SIX - trading at $39.41 with a dividend of 4.81%
Speedway Motorsports Inc - Ticker Symbol TRK - trading at $17.50 with a dividend of 3.45%
Verizon Communications Inc - Ticker Symbol VZ - trading at $52.36 with a dividend of 4.11%
AT&T Inc. - Ticker Symbol T - trading at $36.64 with a dividend of 5.16%
(Keeping it real.  JSYK I am a current shareholder of VZ and TRK.)

While you are accumulating the savings to start investing, choose an internet site to track stocks.  Both Google and Yahoo have good ones.  Which one is better depends only on how comfortable you are at the site and whether or not you can and will use it.  Don't approach buying stocks like buying a new tube of toothpaste or floss.  Make it exciting.  Think of it like building your Fantasy Football dream team of stocks or your special "Dream Future" shopping list.

There are some fundamentals you do want to have in your peripheral awareness.  You don't need to obsess or worry about them, just keep them in mind.

First, in a traditional savings account, the amount you have deposited will fluctuate very little.  It will increase or decrease when you deposit or withdraw from it.  It will decrease a little when your bank applies fees against it.  It will increase a little when your bank deposits interest into it.  Money in a stock portfolio account viewed as "my savings" will fluctuate daily.  Actually it will fluctuate every second of an active trading day.  (The US Stock Market hours are 9:30am to 4pm EST.  It is closed most holidays and in some cases, the day before a holiday.)  You will want to find a way to increase your likelihood that the amount you have in a stock is as much as you paid into it or more.  The way to do that is to learn how to buy stocks when they are on sale.  This will involve another instance where you will probably have to change your way of thinking, but I will outline a simplistic way of beginning to do that in a future blog entry.  For now, simply save and make your wish list.

Second, although dividend returns are an easy way to compare owning stocks with your savings account, not all stocks have good dividends and not all stocks with dividends are good buys.  Momentum names earn you money by the changes in the stock price.  They move quickly and can earn a lot fast.  Or lose a lot fast.  What if the number one name on your dream team is DIS?  Did you notice the dividend percentage I listed for it above?  .99%  That is no better than you are earning in a savings account.  So how do you make money owning DIS?  You will need to buy it when it's on sale.

Third, how do you buy stocks when they are on sale?  In the words of Warren Buffett, "You pay a very high price in the stock market for a cheery consensus." You are embracing the philosophical focus of a Contrarian investor.  Rather than chasing a momentum name, you are choosing to try and do the opposite of the crowd.  That is a very scary thing for most people to do.  It is going to require belief in yourself, belief in your theory of operating and a lot of patience because you are almost always going to pick that dream team while they are hot.  You will need to resist buying until the stock hits a price range that is acceptable to your needs.  Rather than thinking of yourself as treading water until you can do something, how about thinking of yourself as a cheetah in a tree, watching your prey until the perfect moment to pounce.  This is part of the reason you want an entire shopping list rather than just one pet name you would like to buy.  Different stocks will hit your zone at different times, but between world crises moving the market or simple accidental earnings misses, every stock will eventually hit an acceptable buying level at some time.  What you need to do is accumulate funds, make your shopping list and educate yourself as to how to know when those names are in your range.  Really you are looking at the very essence of Louis Pasteur's saying, "Fortune favors the prepared mind."

Fourth, if you want to begin building this stock portfolio in a retirement account, you will need to open either an IRA account or a Roth IRA account at the brokerage you choose.  There are limitations to how much you can contribute to an IRA each year.  For 2014, the limitation is $5500.00 with a catch up contribution limit adjustment of $1000.00 for a total of $6500.00.  The main difference between a Roth IRA and a regular IRA is the tax benefits.  On a Roth IRA, the taxes are removed now so that when you eventually withdraw those funds, during a time when you may not have much other income, you will not need to pay income taxes on that money.  On a regular IRA, you deduct the contribution on your taxes the same year you make it.  Perhaps you have seen that line on your tax form?  That can change your tax return somewhat and maybe even change the amount you owe or you are refunded.

Maybe just those four items have scared you.  You think there is just too much involved and don't believe you could ever do it.  Think of it like anything else you have needed to learn.  You crawl before you walk.  You swim with waders in the baby pool before you jump off the high dive.  From working a computer to simply learning how to read, remember how tough it was at first, keeping track of which letter made what sound or knowing which function key to hit?  Have you ever had to teach someone else how to do something you can perform routinely?  Isn't it amazing how completely you had forgotten your original difficulties?  This can be that way too.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Dr. Phil McGraw once said, "You can't solve a money problem by throwing money at it."  We've all heard stories about how lottery winners lose everything they won, sometimes even ending up worse off than when they started.  In terms of the Law of Attraction, it is viewed as having been able to attract the money, but having too many limiting beliefs that need to be cleared to keep it.  The principle doesn't refer only to money, but health, relationships, all of the aspects of your life.

I believe it, but you can't prove it by me.  Some things in life I can keep very well, others not so much.    What I can say is, by adopting this way of living, things aren't so personal.  The bad things don't hurt as much.  I think of us all as blank slates, like department store mannequins.  Everything else is just the remnants of our choices while visiting this planet for this excellent vacation we call our lives.  It's like a tour guide told me, many many years ago on a bus trip in Ireland.  He found me drifting to sleep and reminded me of all the beautiful scenery outside my window.  When I smiled and said the current scenery wasn't all that different from my own in Northern California, he smiled and said, "Well, it's your holiday, spend it how you want to."  It was one of the first moments in my life where I was presented the notion of having choices, but not judged by which one I made.

I hope you are enjoying your life's vacation immensely.  If you aren't, consider the words of Led Zeppelin in Stairway to Heaven,  "There's always time to change the road you're on."

Now let's talk about money.  Or more specifically, life insurance.

I've been watching a lot of home shows lately.  During one where a couple paid money to have their home remodeled, the wife complained about cracked clay pipes which had to be replaced. Before that they had had to pay for asbestos in the homes floors to be remediated.  Basically she said, "Again we have to pay for something we can't see?"

We pay for insurance to protect ourselves and our loved ones from things that may happen that we can't see or foresee.  People don't like to pay for things they can't see, so we live in a world where we have laws forcing us to pay for many of the things which might impact other people.

I heard a joke once, I can't remember whose it was, so I can't credit the comedian.  The gist was that suicide is illegal.  "In less enlightened times, they would hang you for it."

If we have a mortgage on our house, we have to have house insurance to protect the lender.  If we drive a car, we have to have insurance to protect the other people in an accident and, once again, potentially the lender.  We don't have any laws forcing us to protect ourselves.  Well, potentially except Obamacare, but that is a subject for another day.  Today we are talking life insurance, not healthcare.

Although in a sensible world, that's what life insurance would be, wouldn't it?  Insurance to protect your life.  Instead, life insurance protects others in case you are unexpectedly removed from the equation.  Life insurance protectors your survivors.  In some cases it simply removes the burden of them having to put the funds together with which to bury or cremate you.  In others it may provide a nest egg for family who depended on your income.  Does that mean you should have life insurance?  It depends on your own moral compass.  In theory, if you have people who depend on you and your income, you should have at least some sort of nest egg, savings or life insurance that will make the transitionary time easier.  If it is simply to cover your cremation or burial and they will inherit enough savings from you to do that, they'll be able to access that money faster than the insurance money anyway.

I've always felt a bit bewildered by advertisements on television which try to shame people into buying life insurance for their babies.  No insurance could possibly protect you from such a loss.  It could cover the costs of the funeral, of course, and young couples who have just had babies might not have the savings to cover them otherwise.  Keeping in mind a 529 (or college savings plan) or a life insurance policy would both cost some sort of monthly fee, I think the former might be the more optimistic, "Law of Attraction" positive plan.  In either case, I would make sure I could use the 529 for funeral expenses AND the life insurance for education.  The financial vehicle which could do both would be where I placed the money I have earmarked for my child's future.  At the same time, beware any insurance that claims to be good for retirement.  401k's and IRA's are usually better vehicles for that.  I suppose it is prudent for me to mention in case you might be as naive about the matter as I was.  Funeral costs can be somewhere around $10,000 today.  Even cremation, which once seemed to be only hundreds of dollars, has begun to touch the thousand dollar mark.  At some point in your life, someone will die and you will be faced with the details and the expenses.

Have you ever considered what the insurance company does with your money?  Whatever monies aren't needed for day to day expenses or reserves for paying benefits, are invested.  The government monitors insurance companies investments to make sure their investments are low risk and they will be able to pay their claims.  Because they invest in low risk items like government bonds, insurance companies do not have years where they lose money on their investments.  Insurers also have portfolios that allow for quick liquidation of investments to pay claims.

In a perfect world, we would take our own money, invest it and have money for anything we needed from the costs of dying to the costs of living.  In our world, it is estimated as many as 80% of life insurance polices are allowed to lapse before a payout is due.  People buy more coverage than they can afford.  Life circumstances change.  An elderly person's life insurance can lapse, be discontinued and they can find themselves no longer eligible for the terms the dead policy had.  One thing to keep in mind, if you are in danger of letting your life insurance lapse, consider selling it on the secondary market.  In other words, there are companies who will buy your insurance policy for more than what a cash surrender of the policy would give you.  Particularly in the case of caring for an elderly parent, I have read where selling a policy on the secondary market has given caregiving children funds to help pay hospital expenses.  One important thing to consider and research before taking any action:  a policy sold on the secondary market will still be counted as open insurance held in that person's name.  That could impact the possibilities of purchasing any additional insurance.  If you are looking to invest some of your money, "Life Settlements," (aka that secondary market) might be a good place to try.  The minimum investment is generally $20,000 and you can apparently choose which policies you want to purchase based on payout and time frame.  At first it seems a very gruesome way to make money, but keeping in mind the benefits the seller may have needed might convince you it was actually one of the kindest investments you could make.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Re-telling The Story of Your Past

I have to be honest with you.  I have been working on being a kinder, gentler, happier person for more than a decade.  I have admitted more than once in this blog that it feels like I have been every kind of "messed up" in my life.  Actually, I was a bit luckier than that, I never had an addiction to anything or had to go to rehab.  Unless you count anger.  It certainly didn't give me any joy.  It didn't seem to make anything better.  But yes, I used to be the sort of woman who would talk about "tearing you a new one" or proudly proclaim I could go from zero to b*tch in seconds.  Not having had a traditional addiction, I can only guess that anger is similar.  It doesn't mask any pain, but it can be the "stay away from me, I'm an injured animal 'go-to' method" for dealing with anything and everything that even hints "this might be unpleasant."  That in itself isn't tremendously surprising.  It is hard to go a day without running into someone who is exactly as I was.  What did surprise me is that, while I never lost any friends due to my attitude when I was angry, now that I am the happier version?  I have had losses.  Granted I am also gaining friends and generally feel more loved and appreciated than ever before.  Granted also, each of the relationships (there are three of them) was a bit problematic.  I no longer felt completely comfortable with any of them.   But I'm a Law of Attraction believer and I looked at those "problems" as opportunities for me to grow and learn.  Opportunities to be kinder and gentler.  My biggest surprise was how summarily and thoroughly I was dumped and gone from their lives.  An outcome I would never have initiated.  Even with the third friend.

The third friend, and only female in the group, hurt my feelings.  I was going through that break up (I've mentioned that a time or two as well) and in a moment of weakness, I shared an email with her and I got a lecture.  Further, I got a lecture from my soon-to-be ex.  Neither of them gave me any support or sympathy.  She thought I was an idiot for loving someone who clearly didn't want the same things in life that I did.  He thought I was an idiot for sharing personal feelings and details with a friend.  She actually called me names.  Granted, she had called me them before. She has called me those names nearly the entirety of both of our lives.  I have never liked them and they always hurt.  The difference became I am now "ok enough in my own skin" that I spoke up and told her I found them hurtful.  She stopped for a day or maybe two and then her attitude and the names returned.  I told her I needed some time and some space and she sent me a handwritten letter, several pages, written on both sides.  Near the opening, she wrote, "I'm only trying to tell you the TRUTH."

I apologize for sharing that bit of drama.  I abhor drama myself.  I've witnessed more than enough to last me many lifetimes.  It is probably part of why I always seek the kinder, gentler path.  You see it's her use of the word "truth."  It had me stuck and running in contemplative mode.

First, I questioned whether anyone actually can tell someone else "the TRUTH" with any sort of authority.  I figured a therapist or a life coach could, if anybody could, but I've never had one say, "Angela, this is the TRUTH."  That seems to actually be the territory for people who believe something you don't agree with and labeling it "the TRUTH" means you are no longer supposed to disagree.

Second, I found myself looking up the definitions of "truth" and "fact" and really beginning to wonder if truth can't be seen as being much like the popular definition of "history."  You know the one, history is a version of the events as seen by the victors.

It was during this same time that I was learning about limiting beliefs or subconscious thoughts we have with which we occasionally flog ourselves.  We tell ourselves we are undeserving or unlovable and get in the way of achieving our dreams with them.  A good percentage of the time, we built those beliefs on bad things that happened in our past.  More specifically on the "truths" we tell ourselves to explain the facts of the bad things from our past.  

That got me thinking.  

One of the "facts" of my past is when I was 11 years old, my mother found my diary in a dresser drawer and read it.  It is also a fact that is the same age I first decided I wanted to be writer and that one of the first books I read after the birth of that desire was Go Ask Alice by Anonymous.  It is my opinion that nothing from my childhood would merit a book like the one Anonymous wrote, but it is also a fact that I was diagnosed with PTSD from my childhood largely due to the events of that afternoon.  The facts in the diary were basically that I had taken to smoking cigarettes and I had kissed a boy, of course they were written in the flowery language of an 11 year old trying to sound like the sophisticated teenager she had just been reading about.  My mother's truth at the time came from another book, The Bad Seed written by William March.  If you haven't read either of the books, let me explain.  The girl in Go Ask Alice experiments with sex and drugs like many people her age did at that time.  The girl in The Bad Seed murders people, both adults and children, for personal gain.  My parents kept me on a short leash and house arrest for a few years while my mother spoon fed me her truth.  I believed I was The Bad Seed  for many years and I have no doubt many of my limiting beliefs were born during that time.  

We cannot change the sordid facts of whatever happened to us during our darker ages, but why can't we rewrite the truth?  Years later, I realized that "my TRUTH" of the diary incident was simply that I had been a young overprotected only child who wanted to be a writer and who was testing the notion of doing adult things for the first time.  Not unlike many other children my same age.  The difference was I got caught by a parent who decided to treat it as a DEFCON 5 event.  

The truth.  It is written in smoke and appears different depending on what vantage point from which you view it.  It is facts that are unchangeable and indisputable.  Particularly as children, we tend to view our truths with an eye to our own villainy.  We even blame ourselves for our parents' divorces.  It might not magically erase every limiting belief we've swallowed whole, but why can't we accept the facts, and rewrite the truth?  Why can't we write ourselves as unwitting heroes who simply had bad things happen to them?  For example, I was the first person in my family to attend and graduate from University.  It was only during a conversation I had with my mother on her deathbed that I realized she believed I was smarter than her.  Much smarter than her.  Suddenly I imagined a different interpretation of the "TRUTH" of that day.  Picture a woman, not stupid, but not especially smart.  She didn't have a tremendous childhood herself and had very few skills to draw upon.  She has a husband, but he is gone about 13 hours of most days.  She has a daughter who is bright and imaginative enough she is talking about growing up to be a writer.  Couldn't another truth be she was scared?  She was looking at an 11 year old who looked to be growing up to be smarter than her who was just beginning to challenge her authority by doing things no parent would approve of and not asking for permission.  Have I mentioned my mother was also borderline agoraphobic, a hoarder and she hadn't worked or taken adult responsibility for her finances or anything else after she met my father?  She never had a driver's license.  She was totally dependent on him.  Yet that same woman, when I seemed frightened or hesitant to take my driver's test, essentially told me, "Get your license.  Don't be like me."  Perhaps she was smarter than I give her credit for being.  Perhaps my new truth about a woman who loved her daughter, but who was just a bit overwhelmed by the responsibility, is actually a lot closer to "the TRUTH."

The truth is.  We'll never know.  All we can be certain about are the facts.  So why not tell ourselves stories where the people who hurt us were doing the best that he or she could at the time?  Why not tell ourselves the story from the vantage point of the victor?  Because after all, every day gives a new chance for us to be just that.  

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

How to Detoxify from Negativity, Part 3

So why, in a blog entitled No One Taught You About Money, am I placing so much emphasis on detoxifying from negativity?


1.  We tell ourselves how to perceive the world.  By itself, the world is simply a bunch of facts, measurements and statistics.  Let me give you an example.  Last December I went to Disneyland with some friends to enjoy the Christmas decorations.  My father had died the previous May and I was in the process of breaking down his estate.  I had also just gone through the end of a relationship which had been very important to me.  In short, I was struggling with some sadness and I was very invested in having a good time at Disneyland.  That doesn't mean I stormed the gates aggressively, rushing from ride to ride, trying to pack everything in.  Instead, I tried to stay "in the moment" as much as possible.  I watched other people and let the happy looking ones and the toddlers lead by example.  Although I've been to Disneyland before and have always been a fan, it was a park made fresh and new by my attitude.  When I found my hand rising to pet the projected mirror "Nightmare Before Christmas" snake in my Haunted Mansion "Doom Buggy" rather than simply passively observing it like an adult (or like I usually do,) I realized I was tapping into the Disney experience in a way I never had before.  I danced and sang and giggled my way around the park on that trip.  

Not everybody I watched was as happy.  There were still plenty of people who exited a ride only to complain they were now standing in a gift shop.  There were plenty of others who walked from line to line, never actually riding anything because none of the "wait times" was acceptable.  Even at Disney, people looking to complain and be offended found plenty to complain and be offended about.  At one point, I overheard a cast member, nearly overwhelmed by adults who were pushing and shoving, call out to them, "Remember why you came here."  I'm not sure anyone else even heard him, but it stopped me in my tracks.  I remembered.  Not why I had come there, I'd never forgotten that.  What I remembered were previous trips.  Ones where I was one of those pushing, shoving adults fighting to have fun.  Ones where someone in my party likened Disney to an overgrown monster who lifts you by your feet only to capture whatever change you might have left in your pockets and I had agreed with them.  In that moment, with those previous trips fanned out like a solitaire deck of playing cards in my mind, I could visualize very plainly what made each trip stand out.  What made each trip either happy or sad had very little to do with Disney itself.  I was the key. In that moment I was gifted with a visualization of something I had previously only known as a quote by Abraham Lincoln.  

"Folks are usually about as happy as they make up their minds to be."

Whether it is Disneyland or a tax audit, you decide what sort of time it is going to be.  

2.  I've been studying the Law of Attraction quite a bit lately.  I have seen it work in my own life and I would like to nurture it into working more.  One of the explanations I've heard for why the Law of Attraction doesn't work for more people has to do with limiting beliefs.  You know that negative voice in your head?  The one that scoffs at you and occasionally calls you an idiot?  Sometimes it talks and undermines your confidence when you don't even realize that you're listening.  Not consciously at least.  Have you ever watched someone buy a lottery ticket and lose only to hear them say, "I knew I wouldn't win."  It says things like that.  In the lecture I listened to, the life coach compared our unconscious thoughts to things underneath the ground and the different aspects of our life to trees growing on the surface.  One tree represented our health, while another represented our career and yet another our personal relationships.  Those limiting beliefs were little traps of poison affecting the health of the trees.  In some cases, every aspect of our life was damaged, while in others the nature of the beliefs attacked only specific regions like health or finances.  Without the help of an outside observer, it can be very hard to notice those limiting beliefs because they function largely in our subconscious mind, but once in awhile you will get a glimpse of one of them.  When you do, an effective way of diminishing them is to ask yourself a few questions:  1. Is this thought true?  Is it fact?  Or is it just opinion?  2.  Would a friend say this about me?  Would I say this about a friend?  3.  Is it in my best interests to think this thought?  What good does it serve to think thoughts that aren't in my best interests?  4.  Build a mantra or affirmation around an opposite positive thought as a replacement.  Nurture it into being a belief.  One technique would be:  when you find yourself thinking the negative thought, tell yourself "STOP!"  Do something like breathe in an aroma that is pleasant to you, but strong, like peppermint and follow that breath by thinking the replacement thought.  Repeat as necessary.  If you don't have an essential oil or something that smells pleasant and strong nearby, try tapping your wrist three times with a finger and then think the positive thought.  You are trying to add a physical, concrete detail with which to anchor the replacement thought.

3.  The man who acquires the ability to take full possession of his own mind may take possession of anything else to which he justly entitled.    Andrew Carnegie

Talking with Napoleon Hill, the author of Think and Grow Rich, Andrew Carnegie credited his capability of being in control of his own mind as being the secret of his success.  On a personal level, I learned on my first attempts at the stock market that money is made and lost on fear.  The average person, aka the 99%, will do exactly what they know is not the way to make money nearly 100% of the time.  They will buy at the top of a market (stocks or real estate) because they are afraid they will miss out when everyone else is winning.  They will sell at the bottom of the market because they are afraid the world truly is ending.  

I was on another trip to Disneyland in 2008 when Lehman Brothers closed its doors, the stock market began dumping and everybody from my father to pundits on CNBC began metaphorically shouting, "We're all going to die."  In most cases, my gains were slashed in half by the time I was able to sell.  Because I did sell.  After all, everybody was saying, "We're all going to die."  But you know what?  If I had held onto every name I had owned?  If I had simply had the skills and knowledge to turn my head, look away and hold?  Every one of them was back at those bountiful levels and even higher just a couple of years later.  If I had held and stuck to my guns, I never would have lost a dime. 

I need to caution you here.  That is not always the case.  There is a difference between a market trend and something wrong with an individual stock.  A good rule of thumb is to seriously consider selling a stock that has dipped 8%.  After all, if you had held Enron until the end, you would have been left holding nothing.  You will need to learn to handicap your stock companies like a gambler does the ponies so you can judge whether it is just a bad day or the end of a career and know whether to sell or hold accordingly.

When you find yourself being swept away in fear, a surprisingly good tip is one I heard in the television show Lost.  Perhaps you remember it.  Jack, the character who is a surgeon, is telling Kate, another castaway, how he dealt with the fear when he accidentally cut a patients spinal cord open.  He says he allowed himself to feel the fear, but only for five seconds.  Then he got on with the business that needed to be done.  

So why, in a blog entitled No One Taught You About Money, am I placing so much emphasis on detoxifying from negativity?

Quite simply, it's because I believe positivity is the key to a happy and successful life.  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

How To Detoxify from Negativity, Part 2

Right now as I'm typing this, there is a 2500 acre wildfire burning about 35 miles from me near my hometown growing up.  I have friends whose kids are fighting the fire.  People have been evacuated.  I have spent nearly the entire day watching a Facebook stream of smoke pictures and quiet exchanges of news.  This is the environment as I set out to convince you to embrace being less negative.

It feels a daunting task and I have difficulty knowing what to say.

"Just because bad things are happening you don't need to feel negative."

Even I want to punch myself in the face just for thinking it.

I think, "What would I say to someone who had someone in danger because of the fire?  If I had to give them advice, what would it be?"

And that's when I realize.  It is times like these when it is most important to be positive.  What I would say to them is.

"Try to stay positive.  Focus only on them coming home safe and sound.  I know telling you not to even entertain the notion of them being injured will bring it to your mind just like telling you not to picture a penguin.  Get that penguin moment over and go back to picturing everything as turning out alright.  Keep your language positive.  Think of Mother Teresa.  Don't say I hope no one is hurt; say I hope everyone will be fine."