Know the Game

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Know the Game

Board games are common family pastimes that recall times of joy, laughter, and closeness. Not in my family. Anger, competition, and disagreements were common, especially in Monopoly and Scrabble. At least one family member would quit before the game officially ended. The game was always under protest and people’s feelings were hurt.

The rules were always lost, so improvisation was the next best option (think pre-internet days, folks). As a result, we unwittingly repositioned ourselves for disaster time and time again.

Scrabble was notoriously accompanied by a debate regarding the validity of “Scrabble” words versus those in the dictionary (i.e., xi, za, qu, etc.). Monopoly entailed property negotiations and the first player to land into financial trouble would make an impulsive trade to state afloat. Emotions drove decisions and impaired our judgment.

We witness the same discouragement in investing.

We don’t know the rules.

Before we invest, we create a plan. The plan guides us. We need to determine where everything is, our expectations, needs, wants, and desires before we can build a portfolio that aligns with your goals. Strategic planning and attentiveness are also critical to taking advantage of opportunities like maximizing tax deferrals without incurring any penalties.

And then…we quit.

During an uncertain periods or downturns, we second guess ourselves and quit. We get out of the market at the worst possible time. We are really good at making decisions that in the short-term provide comfort, but neglect to clearly evaluate how they will affect us in in the long-run.

Don’t take it personally.

Easier said than done, I know. Board games should be a time for enjoyment and relaxation, but most us do not like to lose – some more than others. Investing necessitates determining the amount of risk you are willing to take given the type of reward you are aiming to attain. However, if we do not take those risks seriously, especially in good times, it can be hard to cope with short-term market fluctuations. The key is to understand that short-term fluctuations are inevitable and can even be opportunities.

So why do we invest?

We have to understand the game. We have different financial needs, wants, and desires, and therefore, they may invest for different reasons. Many want to grow or preserve their wealth. Assets in cash almost guarantee you will have less tomorrow due to inflation, which erodes purchasing power. For example, nine cents would buy a quart of milk in 1913. Fifty years later, nine cents is only worth a small glass of milk. 100 years later, nine cents would only buy about six tablespoons of milk. The value of a dollar declines over time; hence, you invest in growing wealth and preserve purchasing power.

When we play games with our family, it is usually to have fun. Our family has thrown away Monopoly and Scrabble. We evolved to question games and Apples to Apples. What a difference.

Skills

Posted on

April 12, 2017