Hope for your financial life and beyond

Investing Made Easy (Part V): Common Investing Mistakes

oops - MistakesIn this final edition of the Investing Made Easy series, I’d like to detail some common investing mistakes. Investing doesn’t have to be complicated but we make it so by doing some very silly things. In the end, our meddling brings nothing but frustration and lower returns.

I’ve already touched on a few of the most common mistakes in previous articles such as not having a plan, failing to evaluate one’s risk tolerance and ignoring investing fees.  And of course we want to understand every investment into which we place our money. If we don’t understand it, we shouldn’t be investing in it.

I’ve noticed through the years however, that other, less obvious issues inhibit me from having the success I desire. Each of them have hampered my investing at one point or another and it was only through losing money and honestly evaluating myself in the mirror that I was able to overcome them. (“Overcome” is a strong word, because they still creep back up from time to time and I have to fight them off again and again.)

Common Investment Mistakes

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Investing Made Easy: The What and the Why

Target on moneyWelcome to the Luke1428 investing series. Over the next couple of weeks I will be unraveling the world of investing and setting you on a path towards long-term success. Success in our personal financial life is something we all shoot for and investing can help us hit the target. This series will be a primer for the beginning investor and a reminder for those of us who are more seasoned as to why we invested in the first place.

There are many reasons why people choose to ignore investing. I remember first delving into this topic in my early twenties and feeling extremely overwhelmed. I would glance through a brochure for a mutual fund I was considering and didn’t understand most of what I read. I felt uneducated and uneasy. And I didn’t know anyone who was knowledgeable enough about the topic to explain it to me. There also were no really cool personal finance blogs to educate the public then either.

Mostly though, I remember being afraid of losing money. I was old enough in 1987 to comprehend that something terrible happened to the U.S. stock market on October 19th. I didn’t exactly know how people made or lost money investing, but I knew that Black Monday sounded bad. The people screaming and sweating on the nightly news looked bad. And a $500 billion paper loss in one day seemed to make people feel real bad. So if that can potentially happen, why should I risk losing my money through an investment in the stock market?

This investing series will give the answer to that question and others like it that I had to figure out for myself when I began. The topics I will cover include:

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I Love to Clean the Bathroom

clean the bathroomI have a confession to make…I love to clean the bathroom. This is part genetic predisposition (received from my mom I think, who I always remember keeping a clean house) and part learned (from my days as manager of our community’s swimming pool concession stand. ALWAYS had to be ready for the health department!) Give me a rag, a mop and some liquid Lysol and I’m a happy camper!

We remodeled ours several years ago and it’s become a sanctuary in the morning as I’m getting ready for work. Sometimes I pretend I’m on vacation and walking into a fancy bathroom at a five star hotel. (OK…it may not be that awesome but this is my pretend fantasy here.)

No matter how nice it may be I regularly need to clean the bathroom. Mold still grows in the shower. The sink and tubs get scummy. Personal hygiene items litter the countertops and pack the vanity drawers. And the toilet…well, we won’t even go there.

And I love to clean the bathroom because…

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Winning is More Valuable Than Losing

Michael Jordan

“Bulls win! Bulls win!”

Let’s face it…losing sucks! In the moments right after a defeat, there are no positive feelings. Dejection, pain, frustration, anger, confusion – these are the immediate emotions of losers.

Winners experience something quite different. Their victorious moments are bursting with euphoria, pride, joy, amazement, and gratitude. That’s how I felt Sunday when I completely blew away my stated goal for completing the Publix Georgia Half-Marathon.

Winners also experience another feeling that never presents itself when losing. It’s really a chemical reaction taking place at the cellular level. Some call it an “endorphin rush”. Some call it “runner’s high”. It’s best described as a tingling sensation that flows through the body. It clouds reason and logic. It dulls pain. It’s what allows marathon runners to sprint the last half-mile of a race having already completed 25 plus.

I cannot adequately describe how powerful that bodily reaction is. It has an addicting quality that pushes me to come back for more. It’s reason one that I say winning is more valuable than losing.

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Developing a SPLASH Goal Plan

Dog jumping in water

In my last post, I outlined the acronym SMART as it relates to setting goals. Each goal we set should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. A goal that contains these elements has a greater probability of being reached.

Perhaps your new to the concept of setting goals and don’t know where to start. There are so many areas of our life in which to set goals it can become a little overwhelming. So today I would like to talk you through a program we introduced at our school several years ago that helped our faculty and staff narrow their goal setting focus to specific areas of life. It’s called a SPLASH Plan.

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How to Set Goals: Make Them SMART

how to set goalsWhat do you want to accomplish this year? I hope you have laid out several big-ticket items you would like to check off your list by the time 2013 draws to a close. Having targets to shoot for is critical if we want to move forward in life. I know I don’t want to be stagnant.

In regards to goals, I’ve challenged myself this year to continue to put my trust with God where it belongs, to give more generously, to plan urgently like there is no tomorrow, and to busy myself each day with what brings me joy. I believe these are valuable pursuits, but they are more broad focused, motivational goals. They challenge me, but do not address anything definitive.

So, today I would like to narrow the goal-setting focus by realizing that, if I am going to be successful in reaching my target goals for 2013, I’ll have to be really SMART.

How to Set Goals the Right Way

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A Secret to Success (For Men Only)

We men are an interesting bunch. We love our fast cars, big guns, and BBQ on the tailgate. We play Black Ops II until our thumbs cramp, go shirtless with body paint (or armor and skulls) to our favorite sporting event and engage in all types of extreme activity to push our adrenaline to the edge.

And we love to be successful. Way deep down, inherent in our nature, is an extreme ambition to excel.

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Don’t Go It Alone – Effective Leaders Get Help

Have you ever tried to do it all? In my years of serving in various leadership capacities, I have found this to be one of my greatest challenges…the tendency to take on more responsibility than I can manage. It is a basic and constant battle every leader must face and overcome if they are to maximize their effectiveness.

There are many reasons why leaders try to do it all.

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Of Marathons and Money: Post Race Edition

Success! I completed the Atlanta Marathon Sunday morning in 4:07:54. That time ended up being a 9:23 pace per mile which I was really satisfied with. A 9:30 pace had been my goal. The weather was in the mid-50s and cloudy. We ended up running through several patches of drizzle but nothing to make one uncomfortable.

Overall I ended up 321st out of 982 finishers, placing 38th out of 113 in the 35-39 age group.

The biggest challenge of the race was the physical wall you hit about mile 20. I knew this was coming because I had read so much about it and had experienced it a little bit in training.

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Six Clues You Are a “Wait Until Next Year”-er (Part I)

The 2012 Major League Baseball season has almost concluded. Several teams are still battling it out to see who will be crowned World Series Champion. Most of the MLB fan base has moved on to be entertained by the NFL or college football or whatever as their team has officially been eliminated. The two teams I follow both exited the playoffs early, one to a blown infield fly rule call and the other to a blown 2-0 playoff series lead. (Seriously Cincy…how can you lose three in a row at home!?)

Each season ends in disappointment for 97% of all the teams and their fan bases. And in locker rooms, office buildings, bars, message boards and anywhere else across America people discuss what went wrong with this season, one phrase will be heard that gives hope to all who utter it — “Wait until next year.”

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How Do You Define Success?

What is the definition of success? How do we measure it? Is there a dividing line between success and failure? Is it based on a position you attain, how much money possess, or the power you wield? Or is it based on something more altruistic like how you impacted others or the legacy you leave behind? And who defines your success? Is it based on your own self-assessment or other people’s opinions?  What is the magic formula for being successful?

That’s a lot of questions to ask and no doubt you are beginning to form your own opinions about what makes a person successful. I have a pretty good idea though that as I describe this next character, successful will be the last word that comes to your mind.

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