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Now What Do I Do?

By Jim Baron

Are the Markets going to Crash?

The financial news stories are confusing. How is a person to make sense out of the economy when the Covid-19 pandemic has turned the financial markets into a quagmire of unpredictability?

As an indication of the current confusion in the markets, here is a sampling of headlines of recent stories I have read:

  1. Financials rose but ignored weekly jobless claims.

  2. Investor interest in electric vehicles soars.

  3. Is it game over for guru stock pickers?

  4. The data is broken.

  5. There is a downside ahead….

And on and on it goes. In choosing articles to read, we tend to gravitate toward those that support a bias we may already have. Jim Pearce, a financial guru I follow, recently wrote: “I am optimistic by nature, but my near term view of the stock market is decidedly pessimistic. I simply do not see any reason to believe that the economy will be back up to speed anytime soon and at some point, Wall Street will have to recognize that reality. Let’s hope it is only a soft landing and not a hard crash, but we should be prepared for either outcome.” 

I like that. It is in agreement with my general bias. But what does it mean to be prepared for either outcome?

I spent a good part of my career in sales and as a result, read a lot of books on the subject. I read about 10 steps to success in sales, the seven-step selling process, how to sell the following 5 easy principles, and on and on and on. In the end, I assimilated what I had read, studied, and learned into my own three steps, and created an acronym so I could remember the steps: SIT.

S = Set a goal

I = Implement a Plan

T =Track the results

Nothing new or amazing there. Easy to remember, but yet powerful. Because as sales went up and down and we experienced cycles when things weren’t going so well, we always came back to the basics: SIT.

You may ask what that has to do with finance and investing. And honestly, I never even thought about a correlation either, until I was reading an article written by Sam Kovacs titled “How You Can Retire on Dividends Forever And Ever.” In the article, he talks about a system of dividend investing that he has developed. He acknowledges that he didn’t reinvent the wheel and reveals that it is a step-by-step approach that “works as follows:”

  1. Set Goals. 2. Create a Plan. 3. Make the necessary adjustments. 4. Implement the Plan. 5. Maintenance.

Hah. Now that looks familiar. Does that same idea that helped us through sales slumps, apply to managing your finances? I think so. 

Some people bristle at the idea of setting a goal, but I think the magic of goal setting is that it requires you to spend some time thinking through what you really want, what is really important to you. And you can’t develop and implement a plan without information. And that requires research and study.

If you read this article hoping to find some “easy squeezy” formula for financial success or some answer on how to invest in a topsy turvy market, you won’t find it here. What I hope you do find in encouragement to become involved in your finances so that you are knowledgeable enough to make decisions that prepare you for both: A soft landing or a hard crash. 

Just SIT.

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