Have you ever learned the same lesson more than once?
I sure have.
So some of these financial lessons are reminders, repeats, or the otherwise ongoing learning that comes from taking care of money.
Forgive that these lessons are sort of all over the place, but then there are endless facets to overseeing your money so this makes sense.
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Financial Lesson 1
Strategizing about the best time to start Social Security benefits is hard but hugely important because it involves probably tens of thousands of dollars, maybe more.
The Social Security benefits for the first spouse to depart this earth can be assumed by the surviving spouse.
This means you have to consider if you or your spouse is most likely to die first.
And if you’re unmarried, you have to consider how long you’ll live.
This is hard to do but well worth the effort.
I find the key is to become completely pragmatic.
Financial Lesson 2
We may want to hold assets to gain large tax benefits.
I realized spouses can often get stepped up basis for many assets for either full value or 50% of the asset value when the first spouse passes.
This can vary depending on whether you live in a community property state. Having an asset in an entity such as an LLC can also make a difference, reinforcing the importance of strategic planning, not just investing!
(If I’m starting to sound like Debra Winger in Black Widow, let me explain. This came up because Larry and I are holding an asset with a big fat capital gain so I was analyzing various tax outcomes should we decide to sell it.)
Again, this is somewhat hard to consider given the dire factors but it can involve a lot of money making it worth evaluating if you’re married and own appreciated assets.
Financial Lesson 3
Patience and discipline are called for when investing with risk management in place.
Let me explain this one, too.
Some of you know I use an ETF rotation strategy that rotates into various asset classes by closely following a professionally developed strategy that I selected based on 40 to 50 years of past performance data.
I do this because I don’t like “riding out” bear markets as an older investor but I like to be able to invest in stocks when it makes sense due to the growth opportunity.
I found using an ETF rotation strategy the best way to accomplish this overall goal of low risk with higher growth potential than holding a fixed stock and bond index portfolio as explained more in my Allocate Smartly Review. (I like them so much I became an affiliate.)
Here comes the lesson, although I’ve learned this one multiple times over the past 40 years:)
Using a defensive strategy like this instead of just plopping money into the magnificent 7 high tech growth stocks requires discipline and patience especially when high tech growth stocks perform outrageously well.
(They currently bring to mind the NASDAQ tech bubble so at least that helps me be patient.)
When most stock and bond portfolios tanked as intermediate and long term Treasury bonds continued their descent in 2023 my selected ETF rotation strategies proved my patience was worthwhile, however.
Just take a look below at the long term bond ETF, TLT, to see what I mean.
Financial Lesson 4
If you own a home you’re a real estate investor.
Conventional finance suggests we exclude our home values from our asset allocation percentages when considering how much money we have and where.
As interest rates continued their ascent and the value of one of our largest assets declined, I was reminded once again how much of our net worth is allocated to real estate.
That makes us a long term “buy and hold” real estate investor, but a real estate investor, nonetheless.
You probably are too.
Financial Lesson 5
Emotions affect investment decisions by almost everyone.
2023 was a year of becoming more mindful as I increased my meditation practice.
This led me to journal once again about financial mistakes from decades past; why I made them, and what I learned from them.
What I learned once again is that unexamined emotions very quietly hurt investment returns.
I’ve learned this firsthand and seen it in coaching investors and even financial advisors.
We can greatly improve our financial situation by simply increasing mindfulness around our money.
This is probably the easiest way to increase wealth.
I wonder what financial lessons 2024 will bring.
And can I influence them with foresight today?