We have entered that time of year where the financial media goes into overdrive, dispensing more misinformation than usual. The trigger is end-of-year prognostications about next year.
They are meaningless. Relying on them can impair your financial well being.
If the financial media was honest, here are the answers it would give to commonly asked questions.
Are stocks overvalued?
We don’t know. All we know is markets go up over time.
What are the signs I should look for that predict a market correction?
There are none.
What’s your view of this headline on CNBC.com: Small caps flirt with a death cross, and history suggests that means trouble for the market.
It justifies my view that not watching CNBC should be one of your New Year resolutions.
What’s your view of technical analysis?
I agree with this quote: The only thing we know for certain about technical analysis is that it’s possible to make a living publishing a newsletter on the subject.
What’s the value of Cramer’s opinions?
About the same (actually slightly worse) than the flip of coin, without the attitude.
Wells Fargo is now (as of November 14, 2018) positive on gold. Should I buy gold?
Gold and other commodities should be part of a well-diversified portfolio. Gold could take off or tank. The opinion of Wells Fargo is likely no better than yours. Personally, I would like to see Wells Fargo “turn positive” on ethical behavior towards it employees and clients.
Are stocks “vulnerable to another pullback?”
Yes. They always are. The problem is no one has the expertise to tell you when market corrections will occur, although many love to imply they do.
What’s the best, most simple, advice you can give to someone starting a career?
If your employer has a 401(k) and matches your contribution, contribute the minimum necessary to get the maximum match. Invest in the lowest cost target date retirement fund listed in the investment options.
Open an account with Vanguard. Max out a Roth IRA contribution every year. Invest in the Vanguard Target Retirement Fund with the date closest to your projected retirement date.
Open an after-tax fund at Vanguard. Invest in the same target retirement fund.
Your total savings should be 15%-20% of your gross pay.
Make no changes. Ignore the financial media. Ignore short term-market fluctuations. Check your portfolio once or twice a year, if you must.
You are hard on the financial media. Are there financial journalists you respect?
Yes. Here’s a partial list:
Do you have any predictions for 2019?
Those who have a broadly diversified portfolio in low-cost index funds, passively managed funds or exchange-traded funds, and stay the course, will be fine.
Do you have an investing goal for 2019?
Make your investing about as interesting as watching paint dry. Leave the excitement to others.
This podcast extolls the virtue of boring investing.