There’s an old adage on the trading desk that goes like this: Sell stocks when you can, not when you have to.
Selling when you have to almost guarantees that you are selling for a loss. Investing when you can may indeed lead to the opposite – which is profit.
Why is this crucial for your financial future?
Let me tell you a story…
There was a time in my life when I had a well above average income, but the investment bug hadn’t bitten me yet. I had more of a short-term trader’s mind set.
Sometimes this was profitable. Many times it wasn’t.
When I look back at my mistakes, I realize that many years of investing were sacrificed in favor of the short-term gains. These are years I will never get back. Time I won’t be able to make up.
I wrote an article last year titled “3 Traits Of The Wealthy” which was inspired by an interview with Morgan Housel on The Motley Fool’s “Market Foolery” podcast. One of the habits of the wealthy is their ability to think long-term – I mean very long-term, like 10 to 20 years out.
That type of discipline is very hard for the average person. But it is a very powerful strategy for building wealth.
In the short term here’s what happens to the average Joe (I’m using the masculine pronoun for ease of writing; this process holds as well for Janes!):
1. He gets a job earning decent money out of high school or college. Maybe he starts a small business. He does not invest in stocks.
2. He gets a raise or a higher-paying job. Now income creep sets in. He moves to a more expensive apartment or house, buys a car or upgrades the one he has, buys nicer things for himself, and maybe eats out more often. Overall, his monthly expenses rise with his income. Still no investments in stock.
3. At this point, his life is fully established, possibly with marriage, children, and all the financial responsibilities that go along with it.
4. Here’s Joe at 40 to 45 years old. He never paid any attention to building his wealth. He has worked 20 to 30 years, and has not purchased one stock at all.
It’s very easy to let half your lifetime pass you by and not invest in stocks. What’s so unfortunate about that is that all those years, your money could have been working for you.
When you look at the average amount of money people aged 40 and above have saved for retirement, the number is downright scary.
When you start earning enough to invest, get going and do it.
It doesn’t have to be a lot! With apps like Robinhood, you can put $20 in the account each pay period if that’s all you can afford.
The important thing is to start investing now that you can. Because one day you may not be able to.
At least you will have started.
Click the image of the book at left to be taken to its Amazon page. (Disclosure: As a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, I earn a small commission on each sale generated through these links.)