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A year's worth of worthy advice

Good advice bears repeating.  Since they’ll likely apply just as well in 2020, here’s a round-up of my investing insights from 2019. 

Do you remember the financial climate around this time last year, when all heck had briefly broken loose?  Given the fear and uncertainty at the time, I posted a January 2019 insight, entitled, “The best year-end commentary almost never published”. 

As it turned out, most markets were relatively rewarding for the rest of the year – at least for anyone who took my advice to stay invested according to plan. So, let’s take a moment to revisit those posts, while I work on a fresh batch for 2020. Enjoy.

The best year-end commentary almost never published (January 2019)

“Breaking market news is often stale by the time you read it, forgotten soon thereafter, and irrelevant for long-term investors anyway.” 

Stock-selling skills : Can you beat the professionals? (February 2019)

“If the best-of-the-best professionals’ selling decisions are worse than throwing darts, it seems highly unlikely [you or I] will be able to do any better.” 

Maximizing your CPP benefits: 65 isn’t always the answer (March 2019)

“When should you start drawing your CPP benefits? The answer is, it depends … and it’s worth planning for.”

How understanding statistics can make you a better investor (April 2019)

“Statistics may help you keep your financial cool next time you’re tempted to rush into a financial foray in which the odds are stacked against you.”

Should investors buy individual stocks? (April 2019)

“Based on my 25 years of experience, the vast majority of individual stock-pickers not only underperform the general market, they typically lose capital in the long-run.”

What’s on your mind? (May 2019)

“My mission is to be here, year after year, showing you what evidence-based investing and financial planning looks like.  … What’s on your mind?” 

How much does it cost to retire? (June 2019)

“As much as I’d love to offer a simple, surefire equation, deciding whether you’re financially ready to retire actually requires some serious, personalized planning.”

What should I do with my “extra” cash? (July 2019)

“Besides paying off high-interest debt as quickly as possible, there is no universal solution that works for everyone, every time.  … Multiple choices complicate things, but they also offer the flexibility to develop a multi-choice strategy that makes the most sense for you.” 

40 years after the stock market died (August 2019)

In a Business Week cover story that ran 40 years ago, its authors reported on the “death of equity.” Clearly, they were dead wrong. “My take:  This article, and plenty of others like it, are textbook examples of financial pornography.”

Is it time to time the market … this time? (August 2019)

“Here are four important reminders on the perils of trying to time the market – at any time.  It may offer brief relief, but market-timing ultimately runs counter to your best strategies for building durable, long-term wealth.”

Is the political heat melting your investment cool? (October 2019)

“When it comes to earning expected market returns over time, the winning strategy is to express your political preferences at the polls, but remain invested according to your personal goals.”

Should you own a lot or a little in Canadian stocks? (November 2019) 

“How much is too much [Canadian stock]?  Should we just dump everything into the U.S. market?  Is diversification dead?  My short answers are:  It depends.  No.  And, I wouldn’t bet on it.”

How do I reduce investment volatility? (December 2019)

“I do not recommend buying into low-volatility strategies.  It’s an appealing idea, but you are essentially chasing after the wrong forces of nature.”

So, there you have it – last year’s investment insights.  What do the markets have in store for us for the rest of 2020? I haven’t a clue.  But I am willing to predict one thing:  Whatever happens, you’ll probably find me repeating myself on how to deal with it.  The best financial advice is the kind that lasts.