Stalling, delaying, and postponing action is a common malady of many investors. Sadly, many of us (this writer included) seek advice, believe the advice is good, and then do nothing. While we all have limited time for many things in life, a good sense of urgency for the tasks or goals that are priorities would be a nice addition to your investor’s toolbox.
When King Solomon talked about plans in Proverbs 15:22, he recognized that a plan would be focused on a goal or a set of goals. He also recognized, despite his own wisdom, that advisers were a vital part of his leadership as the king of Israel.
Advice Number One: Get Advice
One of the things I like about Fidelity Investments is the Fidelity Investor Community (FIC). Sometimes I offer advice, and other times I get advice or at least ideas for some aspect of investing. It isn’t always about the stocks or ETFs to buy. Sometimes it is about how to prepare heirs to handle your estate. Other times it might be something related to income taxes or how to see the big picture. Because I value the advice I receive, I also try to provide some advice in the community when I believe my advice has value.
Advice Number Two: Comparison Shop
Many will comparison shop when looking for a new or used car, or when buying some other expensive asset like a home or medical insurance. Sadly, the same types of shopping are not done when it comes to investing. I like, or know about AT&T, so I buy AT&T as an investment. That is not wise shopping. Rather, use a tool on Fidelity Investments or an investment site like Seeking Alpha to see who AT&T’s peers are.
A recent participant in the FIC asked a good question about three mutual funds. I did a compare on Seeking Alpha. Here is an image of my response.
Advice Three: Move old 401(k) Accounts
If you have a 401(k) or ROTH 401(k) at a former employer, don’t keep it there. You will have far better options and solutions available in your own IRA or ROTH IRA account. Furthermore, this makes it far easier to manage your investment and retirement assets if you keep all of them at the same brokerage. Consider Fidelity Investments or Schwab as two good alternatives.
Advice Four: Don’t Chase Fads
There are many investment fads. Some investors focus on gold. Others want cryptocurrencies like the bitcoin. Others chase growth investments in electric vehicles. If one or all of these fit into your portfolio, and you understand the risks, then buy them. But don’t buy them without looking at your investment plan. Frequently I avoid buying a stock like Tesla (TSLA) because it doesn’t fit my plan. I have no regrets on that count.
Advice Five: Keep Learning
Five years ago, I knew relatively little about options trading. After I did some reading and watched some videos about options trading, I requested covered call option trading authority on my IRA account. I only traded covered calls, as they were the least risky. Then, after I got comfortable with how to do that well, I requested level 2 options trading on my accounts.
Level 2 made it possible for me to trade cash covered puts. Because of these trades, I have made just over $26,000 in options trades YTD. That is more than $3,200 per month. To put this in perspective, I have already earned more trading options in 2021 than I will receive in Social Security benefits for the full 12 months.
All of these require some type of action. The first one means you reach out for help. The second causes you to think before investing. The third gets you set for a less complicated and more robust investing future. The fourth keeps you from being distracted by the latest news or fads. The fifth has value because you can build knowledge and experience, but only if you consciously take steps to read and learn. Taking action is a crucial step in realizing plans that succeed.
While there are many good books to get an investor started, my favorite is John Bogle’s THE LITTLE BOOK OF COMMON SENSE INVESTING. It will lay out some principles you should understand as a foundation.
King Solomon’s Wise Advice
“Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” – Proverbs 15:22
All scripture passages are from the English Standard Version except as otherwise noted.