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Ray and Dana Brandon

Ray Brandon, CEO of Brandon Financial Planning, and his wife, Dana, a licensed clinical social worker, can be reached at brandonplanning.com.

Rays of Wisdom: Top investing strategies

By Published: January 17, 2019 10:52 PM CT

Ray’s Take: According to an article in Millennial Money, Americans spend over $70 billion each year on lottery tickets. The average U.S. household spends over $800 a year on these tickets to fantasyland. The article explained that if these people had invested their $800 into the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund for a 10-year period, they would have over $13,000 to call their own. But instead, they find themselves poorer.

Many people avoid investing because they think it’s too complicated or they are just too afraid to lose money. But there are simple strategies that I recommend to get you started that don’t involve scratch-off tickets to bankruptcy.

When it comes to investing, fear and greed are your worst enemies. Too many people get caught up in investment noise and end up making poor choices driven by emotions. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If your friend tells you he made a killing by investing in the hottest new trend, you probably won’t.

Your greatest investing allies are confidence and strategy. You’ll need a plan, a budget, a timeline and patience. I strongly suggest working with an experienced financial adviser on your investment strategy. If you’re not yet ready to hire a professional, then do your research. Please don’t feed into the latest “get rich” schemes being pitched to you by your friends and the media.

My next suggestion is to make an investment allocation that can get you where you want to go and stick to it. Allocation is the key to avoiding fear and greed as it forces you to stick to a discipline. The temptation to deviate can be powerful. Stocks are hard to face in a bear market. Cash and bonds are equally hard to face as bull markets rage.

Last, be sure to keep an emergency fund. Cash helps you avoid making desperate choices at market extremes. You don’t want to be in the position of having to sell low or borrow money for reasonably predictable events. It’s also important to be aware there are “financial advisers” out there selling products, not to help you earn, but to help them earn. Write down the word “fiduciary” and be certain that anyone offering you financial advice is one.

When done with careful thought and sound strategy, investing can be very enjoyable and profitable. Enjoy every sunset and happy investing.

Dana’s Take: Would you consider jumping out of a plane to be fun? If so, you may be a risk-seeker. If jumping out of a plane sounds like a nightmare, you may be risk-averse. Risk tolerance also drives our financial choices.

Most of us could use an independent financial adviser to help us offset our natural financial tendencies. Risk-seekers need help distributing risk more broadly, while the risk-averse seek help balancing safer investments with market risk.

Reflect on your level of risk tolerance and how it’s affecting your financial choices. Consider using an independent adviser to help you achieve a balance between your needs for risk and security.



<strong>Ray and Dana Brandon</strong>

Ray and Dana Brandon

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