Your bucket list probably contains some exciting goals: skydiving, learning to ride a motorcycle, venturing to a remote corner of the globe, or finally publishing that book. Your investment portfolio, on the other hand, doesn’t need to get your heart racing. Of course, investing always involves risk and the value of your investment can go down, but it’s often the “boring” investment strategies that perform best over time.
It’s smart to opt for a “boring,” balanced portfolio that’s designed to net you returns over the long run without requiring a ton of active participation on your part. Then you can use the rewards of your boring strategy to knock all those exciting activities off your bucket list (and help achieve your long-term financial security). Here are four investing moves you can consider nixing right now in favor of a safer — and, sure, snoozier — strategy.
1. Stop following “hot” stock tips.
Maybe you just started investing, so you’ve asked your friends for stock tips. Or you’ve researched the next big company or industry, trying to predict what will be successful in the future. Similarly, you may decide to invest in actively managed funds, where stocks are traded back and forth by Wall Street pros who study the market for a living.
What these strategies have in common is that they focus too much on one particular company’s stock, or on a specific industry. And in the case of actively managed funds, this can be a very expensive investment strategy, because it means you’re paying for the investment manager’s expertise.
Try this: Instead of betting on the companies you hope will be the next Google or Apple, consider a boring portfolio full of low-cost index funds. An index fund is a type of mutual fund structured to follow a particular market. Guess what? Most index funds have outperformed individual stocks and active funds over time. There’s nothing boring about that.
2. Stop using your pricey investment advisor.
You know the type: He works in an office full of marble, mahogany, and leather. It definitely looks like he knows what he’s doing, and he’s got a roster of high-net-worth clients to back him up. But he’s going to charge you an arm and a leg (and maybe a kidney) to move your money around. And for most investors, it’s just not worth it.
Try this: Rather than spending money (money you could be, ahem, investing) on expensive appointments with an investment advisor, try an account with a robo-advisor. It may sound sketchy, but robo-advisors are backed by slick algorithms that do the heavy lifting for you while keeping costs low. This service will give you an investment strategy tailored to you based on your age, tolerance for risk, and how long you plan to keep your cash invested.
3. Stop obsessively monitoring stock prices.
It’s easy to get caught up in worrying about market turbulence on a day-to-day basis, especially when financial headlines seem dire. What's going to happen to all those Greek stocks you bought? And, oh no, SBUX shares aren’t doing so hot after that whole red-cup debacle — is it time to cut and run?
Try this: Think about the long game. Sure, it’s a good idea to be in the know about financial news and general market trends, but your goal should be to ride out the fluctuations and take advantage of the long-term upward trajectory. So even when things look grim, ignore the noise and instead of dumping stocks, you may want to consider investing more. It can be just like buying on discount, and doesn’t everyone love a good sale
4. Stop trying to predict the market.
Think you have a guess about where a given stock is headed? Look, no one can predict the stock market — not you, not me, and not Warren Buffet. Trying to time it is like trying to put a leash on a cat: not a good idea, and you’re probably going to get hurt.
Try this: Sit back and let your portfolio do its thing. If you’ve put together a balanced portfolio, even if one particular stock or investment starts to go down, odds are the other pieces in your portfolio will balance it out, especially over the long haul. So close out that stock ticker app and go do something more exciting.
Before joining the Society of Grownups, Karen Carr completed a BS in finance, obtained her CFP®, and went on to work as an advisor at a boutique, private wealth management firm.
Disclaimer: Karen Carr is not providing investment advice on behalf of Society of Grownups within this article. The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and all investors should make their own investment decisions. Any third-party resources or websites referenced above are not under our control, and we cannot guarantee their accuracy.