Burger, Fries and a Plane Crash

Well-known risk consultant Peter Sandman wisely observed that, “The risks that scare people and the risks that kill people are generally entirely different.” Why is this? His conclusion is that it has to do with control and familiarity. It seems that we are much less afraid of things that are familiar and that we feel are in our control (even if they are, in fact, much more dangerous). The truth of Sandman’s observation hit home for me one day as I was enjoying a juicy burger and freshly cut French fries at one…Read more

Warning: Being Helpful Might Hurt Your Marriage

A study by Norwegian researchers Thomas Hansen and Britt Slagsvold found that equally sharing housework between spouses might be bad for your marriage. After analyzing data of thousands of Norwegian couples, Hansen and Slagsvold found the divorce rate was higher for those doing equal amounts of housework than in couples where the women did more of the work. My first thought after reading this was that the International Association of Married Men must have funded the study.  Okay, there is no International Association of Married Men (at least not that I am aware…Read more

How To Tell Your Spouse You Lost $262 Million

Easy Come, Easy Go In his book, Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes, Gary Belsky relates a fable that goes something like this: By the third day of their honeymoon in Las Vegas, the newlyweds had lost their $1,000 gambling allowance.  That night in bed, the groom noticed a glowing object on the dresser.  Upon closer inspection, he realized it was a $5 chip they had saved as a souvenir.  Strangely, the number 17 was flashing on the chip’s face.  Taking this as an omen, he donned his green bathrobe and rushed…Read more

Presidents, Politics and Your Portfolio: Focus on Planning Not Predicting

It’s no surprise that this year’s U.S. presidential race has become a subject of conversation around the globe. The frequency, and intensity, of these conversations will probably only increase as the November 8 election date nears.   We are by no means endorsing that you ignore what is going on in the world around you. Politics and politicians regularly and directly affect many aspects of our lives and our pocketbooks. But as you think through this year’s raucous race, remember this:   The more heated the politics, the more important it is to…Read more

What Voting Booths and Scales Can Teach Us About Investing

A while back, a technical glitch knocked out trading in all Nasdaq Stock Market securities for three hours.  If you are a true long-term investor with a good financial plan, then your attitude toward a market closure of three hours or three months should be one of indifference.  As Warren Buffett said, “If we aren’t happy owning a piece of a business with the Exchange closed, we’re not happy owning it with the Exchange open.”  This leads me to an important question that gets to the heart of how you think about investing…Read more

What a T-Rex and a Cockroach Can Teach Us About Investing

You have probably heard the tale of the tortoise and the hare, but I am guessing that you are not as familiar with the story of the T-Rex and the cockroach.  The mighty T-Rex is celebrated in museums and movies as the biggest and most dominant and terrifying carnivore of all time.  The cockroach, on the other hand, is small, ugly and perhaps the most reviled of insects.  For investors, the important moral of the T-Rex and the cockroach story is that the lowly cockroach is still thriving and multiplying around the globe,…Read more

Death By Anecdote

Suppose you have a perfectly healthy 100-year-old neighbor who never exercises and smokes two packs of cigarettes a day. Would you quit exercising and start smoking two packs a day in hopes of living a healthy life into your 90s?  Would you begin living your life based on their story?  Of course not!  This could, quite literally, lead to death by anecdote.  You would be making a serious, life altering decision based on a single data point – your neighbor.  As silly as this example seems, you may unknowingly be making investment decisions…Read more

Take a Walk on the Mild Side?

A friend recently sent me an interesting article entitled How Happiness Comes With Age - Becoming Okay With Being Boring.  I’m guessing I liked the title so much because I am a CPA and have mastered the art of being boring.  If you ever need someone to liven up a party, just give me a call and I will give you the phone number for my friend Ron - he is really fun. One particular part of this article jumped out at me as it relates to investing.  The writer was discussing our…Read more

What Pot Pie Can Teach Us About Investing

I was recently shopping for note cards on a popular paper company’s website.  I know that has the potential to win the ‘least interesting opening sentence in a blog post’ award this year, but do your best to hang with me here.  This shopping experience started out in a very promising way.  I basically knew what I wanted and the home page of the site had a prominently displayed tab for Note Cards.  How much easier could it get?  Unfortunately, when I clicked on the Note Cards tab my thoughts of quick and…Read more

What Traffic Can Teach Us About Investing

Sitting in Washington, D.C., traffic the other day made me think of an instructive story I heard some years back.  It went something like this:  Imagine that you are in your car, leaving Washington, D.C., for a fifteen hour drive to Florida.  Unfortunately, half an hour into your trip, you see a line of brake lights ahead and within moments you are sitting still in the middle of a traffic jam.  As you stare out the window of your car, you notice people on bicycles flying past you.  After an hour of going…Read more