This quote is from a Washington Post article about some people in Louisville, Ky., who have been investing in bitcoin. Why bitcoin as opposed to, say, a sensible mix of stocks, bonds and cash? As one 35-year-old man says, it’s a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change my life.”
The recent stock market correction makes this comment all the more resonant. It reinforces the idea that the traditional ways of getting ahead in life – working hard and investing diligently – aren’t working. The price of bitcoin has been on the decline lately, but it’s still up phenomenally over the past two years. People see gains like that and wonder how they can participate.
The stock market, particularly the U.S. market, has done very well since the crash of 2008-09. But the recent plunges we’ve seen can certainly undermine your confidence as an investor. If you own stocks or funds holding stocks, it’s a sickening feeling to see the markets tanking. On paper, your investments shrink by the minute. You feel like you’ve made a big mistake in trusting your money to the stock market.
I urge you to keep the faith in traditional investing, even if stocks fall further. Those Louisville residents may just hit it big in bitcoin, but they could also lose everything. With a diversified mix of stock and bonds and a commitment to staying invested for 10 years or more, you have a far better chance of improving your financial position in a meaningful way. As I said in this recent column, the “get rich slow” mindset is the one that works best for most people.
Rob’s personal finance reading list…
Why stocks are falling – the plain-English explanation
Zero financial lingo in this rundown on why the stock markets have fallen lately from the non-profit Canadian Foundation for Economic Education.
12 rules for life
Finance writer Megan McArdle reports on what she’s learned in her 45 years about life, the universe and everything. Check out her tough-minded rule about saving money.
The case for buying school photos of your kids
“Those photos are a reminder of what your child was truly like when they were … in school,” a blogger writes. My wife and I bought plenty of school photos of our boys over the years. No regrets.
Thumbs up on this robo-adviser
A blogger reviews WealthSimple, which is the best known of this country’s robo-advisers, if my interactions with investors are any indication.
He gave his debit card PIN to his son
Big mistake, as you’ll read in this case study published by the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments. For the love of god, do not give your PIN to anyone, ever.
Today’s featured financial tool
This investor profile calculator can help you decide on a mix of stocks, bonds and cash for your portfolio.
The question: “I have an issue with my investment adviser. He charges me a percentage of assets to manage our money. He ends up with roughly 25 per cent of the cash [my account] spits out every year. I think this is a little steep. The percentage model seems like a tax on my hard work to amass the principle. What are my options? Do it myself?”
The answer: Three thoughts for you, the first being to schedule a meeting with your adviser to discuss fees. You can ask for a fee reduction, which is possible but unlikely to bring you a huge amount of relief, or you can try to get more value for your fees by seeing if your adviser can provide more services. We’re talking here about financial planning, plus tax and estate planning. Another option is a robp-adviser – low fees to manage a portfolio designed specifically for your needs. One more thought is to handle your own investments, if you have the time, willingness and expertise.
Personal Finance Columnist
The Globe and Mail, February 13, 2018