What caught my eye this week.
I love this time of year. No, of course not the short, dark, dreary days. I spent a lot of my childhood in sunnier climes and the Seasonally Affected Depression is real.
But rather the sense of nothing pressing to do.
Granted this is a privilege, albeit the result of my choices.
I deliberately don’t have kids dragging me all over the place. I’ve literally made it my business not to have a stressful work life. I’m very grateful for my wider family life, but once Christmas is over it’s a week of limbo and I relish it.
There are pros and cons to this rather ascetic way of living, certainly. I can see for some it might appear a bit barren.
But it suits my unusual temperament, and importantly it isn’t hurting anyone.
That said, I have developed some seasonal routines.
For example I tend to do a bit of midwinter purging of junk and clutter. And while I don’t commit to strict New Year resolutions, I do try to think a little more about what I might do better next year.
Currently I’m minded to eat meat only twice a week, work harder to see farther-flung friends, and hunt for more ultra long-term holds for my portfolio.
On the purging of junk front, I also love resetting my massive investing spreadsheet.
My sheet starts with ‘my number’ at the top of the top sheet. That’s driven by various sub-sheets that calculate the shifting value of my portfolio in real-time. These also remind me where all the skeletons are hidden what is on which platform, and throws out interesting statistics about my shifting exposures and returns.
Zeroing it all ready for a new year is for me a special kind of slightly Rain man-y pleasure.
I see some of you are scoffing at the back?
Yes of course a year is an arbitrary orbit of the sun. Indeed, neither the world nor the markets are magically transformed on 1 January. (Although in retrospect 2022 sure looks that way.) I agree it’s all mental accounting and biases.
But hey, I’m a (mental) human and I am biased. And I can’t wait to delete the negative numbers and reset the counters.
Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart
Many years ago I met the best-selling author Robbie Burns of Naked Trader fame. We talked about investing.
Robbie was dismayed about my Buffett-y habit of averaging down on my losers:
“Why would you want to stare at your failed trades all day? It’s depressing. I get rid of them.”
I thought Burns’ advice was ridiculous at the time. But now I think it’s more wise than not.
Sometimes you have to learn a lot of complexity to realize some simple truths.
In 2023 I’ll feel happier about my active investing – and I suspect I’ll do better accordingly – because I (hopefully) won’t have to keep seeing (and reacting to) how I’m lagging the market year-to-date over an arbitrary time period in a portfolio that can’t sensibly be said to be winning or losing over anything less than at least five years, at least not without luck looming large.
Agreed: this is intensely stupid. But it’s hard won self-awareness too.
I’ll be working on that flaw in 2023, as I cook my beans instead of a pork chop and try yet again to tie down some much busier friend for a weekend away.
Maybe you’re a sensible passive investor and you already have more time to devote to the most important things in your life?
Regardless: what will you be doing more or less of, investing or otherwise?
Let us know in the comments below. And happy new year!
Ten of the best from Monevator in 2022
A semi-random selection of some of my favourite posts of the past year, with a bias towards the older and more likely to be forgotten ones…
How do zero commission brokers make money? – Monevator
Paying for care in the UK [Six parts, links at top] – Monevator
How to spend money – Monevator
The rising cost of living: how to maintain your quality of life – Monevator
Passive investing: what is it and how does it work? – Monevator
Quantitative tightening and you – Monevator
FIRE update: one-year anniversary – Monevator
Mortgage risk: a checklist – Monevator
Fixing your financial posture – Monevator
Don’t currency hedge your equity portfolio – Monevator
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Stock and bond markets shed more than $30tn in ‘brutal’ 2022 [Search result] – FT
UK houses prices down for fourth month in a row; longest run since 2008 – Guardian
New Year’s Eve parties hit by strikes and cost of living – BBC
MBE for Gymshark founder who launched £1.25bn empire in parent’s garage – Guardian
Workers over 50 encouraged to end early retirement – BBC
Government extends Mortgage Guarantee Scheme to end of December 2023 – GOV.UK
Liz Truss regime’s ‘moron premium’ still looms over UK economy [Search result] – FT
Products and services
Barclays: two Best Buy cash ISAs paying 4.1% (two year) and 4% (one year) – This Is Money
Open a SIPP with Interactive Investor and pay no SIPP fee for six months. Terms apply – Interactive Investor
UK banks to ease pressure on mortgage holders as late payments set to surge [Search result] – FT
How to save money in the sales – Which
Hate that jumper? Here’s what to do with unwanted Christmas presents – Guardian
What are your rights if your flight is cancelled? – Which
Andy’s money-saving Deals of the Week – Be Clever With Your Cash
The best dream homes for sale, in pictures – Guardian
Comment and opinion
Needs, wants, and why we always feel unfulfilled – Pragmatic Capitalism
Taking it personally – Humble Dollar
At 90, Burton Malkiel of Random Walk… fame still sings the same tune – Think Advisor
Contrast – Indeedably
What is horizon risk, and why does it matter to you? – Rock Wealth
Same old same old – Humble Dollar
Build a buffer into your retirement plan – Random Roger
Investing basics: a balanced portfolio – Vanguard UK
Money lessons from The White Lotus – A Wealth of Common Sense
(Sane) 2023 forecasting mini-special
2023 predictions – Fortunes and Frictions
Take your 2022 losses while you can – Of Dollars and Data
Naughty corner: Active antics
A deep dive into Fundsmith [Podcast] – Maynard Paton
Notes from Nick Sleep on short-term vs long-term thinking [PDF] – IGY Foundation
Workers rush to offload start-up shares as valuations plummet [Told you; search result] – FT
High returns from Turkey ETFs remind us to look at what’s been hammered [Podcast] – ETF Trends
How a CFO preps for an earnings call – The Secret CFO via Twitter
Kindle book bargains
Money: The True Story of a Made-Up Thing by Jacob Goldstein – £1.19 on Kindle
Dead in the Water: Murder and Fraud in the World’s Most Secretive Industry by Matthew Campbell and Kit Chellel – £1.29 on Kindle
The Senegal man on a mission to plant five million trees – BBC
Why Alaska’s Beluga whale populations are dwindling – Hakai
Army of islanders to protect gecko the size of a paperclip – BBC
Off our beat
Thinking tools to improve your life – Neckar’s Minds and Markets
Three years on, what most surprised experts about the Covid pandemic – Stat
Let’s agree and accept that life and success is not fair – Freddie deBoer
Ukraine unplugged – The Atlantic via MSN
ChatGPT robs you of the benefit of thinking – Young Money
The surprisingly profound power of Thank You notes – The Atlantic via MSN
Scientists are arguing about publishing alternatives to peer review – Experimental History
All success is a lagging indicator – Ryan Holiday
“A cheap index fund is basically investing in its purest form. There’s no fat or indulgence. This is why it will likely never go out of style.”
– Eric Balchunas, The Bogle Effect
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