An Ambulance Screams By, Do You Feel Happy Or Sad?

There was once a time I felt very sad every time an ambulance zoomed by with sirens blazing.  I knew someone was suffering, and sorrow would fill my heart not only for the injured, but also for the person’s family and friends.  Nothing is permanent, and the ambulance reminds me of this fact every time I hear one.

Over lunch, I was sharing my feelings with a friend, and she changed my mindset.  She mentioned, instead of feeling sad, feel happy. Be happy the ambulance is out there saving someone’s life.  Feel emboldened help is on its way!

My friend was right.  I chose to feel sad about an unchangeable past rather than focus on the good act of trying to make things better.  It was this simple epiphany 12 years ago that changed the way I looked at everything, forever.

Rather than sulk about those personal finances on life-support, why not change the way you see your outlook?  Instead, look at your massive debt, or your crummy income as an opportunity to recover.  The worse you are, the more upside you have!

Shop around for health insurance:  The internet has really helped lower the cost of insuring yourself and your family. eHealthInsurance has some of the lowest rates and best coverage due to its largest network. They are based right here in the Bay Area, and I have met a number of their representatives. The Affordable Care Act debacle has proven to be more expensive and more cumbersome to sign up so far.

Keiju,

Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. Ryan @ Planting Dollars says

    Interesting thought. I also take (took after reading this) the sad approach when seeing an ambulance. I tend to worry, rather than feel sad, for the stranger I’ve never met before and hope they will be whisked away to safety and live happily ever after.

    My ah-hah moment was a chapter in a book. In particular the first chapter of the Success Principles by Jack Canfield. The chapter was titled: “Take 100% Responsibility for Your Life.” After that ah hah moment, I began reflecting inwards when things didn’t go my way rather than blaming external factors.

    I believe people who are sad or pessimistic feel helpless and don’t realize they have the ability to change their own lives. It’s almost like being in a mental cage without possibility. Realizing that you have the ability to make your life and the world how you want simply through thoughts breaks the chains and allows limitless opportunity and optimism.

    Why do you think people choose to be sad and pessimistic?
    .-= Ryan @ Planting Dollars´s last blog ..How to Win Through Quitting =-.

  2. Gordie says

    I think I never really had this feeling of sadness when I heard an ambulance, nor a feeling of happiness. I think I am semi-detached when I hear it.

    However, you make a good point about not dwelling on the negative which leads to pessimism.

    Some people are just happy being pessimistic. They hope for the best but expect the worst. That way when something goes right, to them it’s a pleasant surprise.
    .-= Gordie´s last blog ..How Self-confidence Can Strengthen Your Lifestyle Design And Personal Development. =-.

  3. Rob Bennett says

    My “aha!” moment on saving came when I realized that Financial Independence did not need to be an All-or-Nothing thing. I could save one dollar and gain four cents of Financial Independence (the one dollar would produce at least four cents of income every year for the rest of my life and so my need to work to eat and so forth had been reduced by four cents by saving the one dollar). Once I saw that I did not need to save $1 million for it to count, saving became a far more appealing money decision than it had ever been before.

    I’ll refrain my telling my “aha!” moment re stock investing because it would upset people (but I won’t refrain from making mention that I have one because I believe that those who have over the years come to understand the realities of stock investing need to begin speaking up more before our entire economy goes over a cliff and at least if we let people know that we have good things to share we may be able to soften the ground a bit for a time when new and life-enhancing ideas will be welcomed and invited and encouraged).

    Rob
    .-= Rob Bennett´s last blog ..“Any Sensible Asset-Allocation Formula Should Combine Age/Investment Horizon & Valuation Levels” =-.

  4. Mighty says

    That’s an interesting way of putting it. :D We better start looking forward to what we can do with our present situation instead of looking back with regret to what has been done, which we can’t change anyway.

  5. Monevator says

    My dad had a heart attack about 14 months ago, and afterwards was in a coma for weeks. (He’s been left partially brain damaged). He can’t remember anything about the heart attack or the months in hospital (even those months after the coma) but if an ambulance goes past he gets extremely upset and agitated.

    Somehow, the noise of the ambulance (with him in it) seems forever etched on his brain, even when it’s been unable to remember anything else from the experience.
    .-= Monevator´s last blog ..Should you be investing more in technology? =-.

  6. LeanLifeCoach says

    It completely depends on the subject. In some, my perspective has turned more negative. ie. Politics and the future national debt my kids face.

    Financialy, for years my perspective was that I had little control.

    It was a Lean mathematical calculation that did it for me. Most companies use Cost+Profit=Selling Price. Taiichi Ohno realized ultimately it is the customer that decides if they will pay your price, the market determines price. If someone else controls price then what do we have control over? He changed the model; Selling Price – Cost = Profit. We all have more control over what we spend then what we generate in income.

    As for ambulances, when I see one, I feel blessed; blessed that my kids or wife are not in it. I am also proud; proud of the men and women that take on such a scary and challenging job as being an EMT.

    No genetics here, it’s all environment.
    .-= LeanLifeCoach´s last blog ..A Fun Battle – Debt Reduction =-.

  7. Tracy says

    I work in emergency services and have a crazy number of thoughts when I hear sirens. One, I hope the person being treated gets through okay, two, I hope it’s not one of my colleagues, three, I hope they all have a safe trip to the ER. The optimism I feel is always how fortunate we are to live in such amazing times. I have seen miracles performed in emergency medicine over and over and the lives lost are the minority of cases that travel in the ambulance.

    It was my job that created the crossroads for me. I see much of the negative side of life and if I thought that was the norm I would be on medication. Instead, I focus on the saves. All the goodness I get to witness in people over the selfishness, greed and avarice. The bad stuff makes the news, because the good stuff is commonplace and I am grateful for that fact.

  8. admin says

    @ Gordie – “Some people are just happy being pessimistic. They hope for the best but expect the worst. That way when something goes right, to them it’s a pleasant surprise.” I think this is the term of being a “realistic” no? I just hate being pessimistic. Who wants to run in a 1 foot high hurdle race? Not me.

    @ Ryan – I may have to do some freement at Barnes & Nobles this weekend and check out that book! You’re probably right on the pessimists probably feeling helpless. But there’s always hope…

    @ Rob – I’m curious to know what your secret stock investing a-ha moment was. Good analogy on the 4cents and 1 dollar thing, as that’s the basic building block.

  9. admin says

    @ Monevator – Sorry to hear about your father :( I hope he recovers to his full capacity. If and when they stroll me away in an ambulance, I will try and stay positive. I hope we all stay positive!

    @ Lean – Thnx for sharing the profit formula. Blessed your kids and wife are not in it is one way of looking at things I guess… that’s like the formula of visiting PF sites who have it much worse than us. Yours is an interesting perspective, b/c it reminds me to post more about my own suffering and losses, and not just the positives.

    @ Tracy – Well said, well said!! Focusing on the saves, I like that. The news warps us… the schadenfreude annoys me. Glad you’re grateful of commonplace… so shall I be.

  10. Rob Bennett says

    I’m curious to know what your secret stock investing a-ha moment was.

    Thanks for asking, Sam (that’s called “taking the bait”).

    I don’t want to go into detail for the reasons described above (it would pull attention away from what should be the focus of the thread — that’s called “hijacking”). The vague version is that I reported something about investing of considerable importance at a discussion board and some people responded not with argument but with personal abuse and a good number of generally smart and good people elected not to say or do anything about it.

    That told me that this investing business is a highly emotional endeavor. The focus in the conventional advice is on numbers. And numbers do indeed matter. But what really matters is the emotions. If you get emotionally invested in any strategy, you will filter out data points that don’t fit your bias. And that will get you in a whole heap of trouble down the line.

    That experience led me to lose confidence in just about all of the conventional investing wisdom. I began checking things out for myself. And that has taken me down an exciting (from a learning experience) but unfortunately friction-filled (again, because of the emotions that get stirred up) path for the past eight years.

    Rob
    .-= Rob Bennett´s last blog ..Podcast #193 — My Vision =-.

  11. Kevin@OutOfYourRut says

    This may sound a bit selfish, but I’m more on the happy side–happy that it isn’t me or one of my loved ones. But maybe more of the happiness–if you can call it that–is the realization of how fragile life is and the need to seize the day. That’s more of a wake up call than anything else.

    John Lennon said “life is what happens while we’re making other plans” and I think the sound of a siren pierces the complacency of our plans and brings us back to the moment where we truly belong.

    We do need to make plans for the future, but plans don’t always pan out and life is now!

    I also like what Rob Bennett (above) said about not needing a million dollars to be happy. That was an AHA(!) moment for me as well. We do need some money, but I think we mostly tend to overrate what we need as if money were the source of all happiness. But we also need work that gives us a sense of accomplishment, family, community, love, health and a sense of freedom. Money can help in attaining those to some degree, but it can’t buy any of them outright.
    .-= Kevin@OutOfYourRut´s last blog ..Save a Bundle By Repairing Your Eyeglasses =-.

  12. thriftygal says

    My aha moment was when a friend mentioned that you can control the outcome of many things by choosing how you react to the world. Since then I’ve applied this principle and benefited from it by taking a breath and weighing my options on how to react when hit with an obstacle both in my professional and personal life. Like you said, you can choose to be sad or choose to be relieved when you hear that ambulance siren.

    Another reason I feel relieved when I hear a siren here in the US is when I see everybody scrambling to get out of the way. Believe it or not, I’ve seen ambulances’ movement hampered in other parts of the world where traffic is more congested or people are plain ignorant or selfish. So when I see people getting out of the way and putting someone else’s needs before them, it makes me feel good.

  13. Sandy L says

    I had 2 aha moments, both as kids.

    Once when a neighbor friend asked me if I wanted to go to the beach. I couldn’t go but he went anyway. I asked “you’re going alone?!” He said, “if I waited for someone else to accompany me to everything I want to do, I’d miss out on alot.”

    The second was more personal. My dad would always complain about how bad his life was..usually while sitting on the couch and drinking. I never understood why he’d rather be unhappy and do nothing vs getting of his butt and taking some action. I never wanted to end up like him. Now, when something in my life makes me miserable, I take steps to change it..even if those steps will take years to accomplish. Getting out of poverty meant years of working+going to school at the same time. Having a job that I didn’t like led me to network and actively look for the next one, etc, etc.

  14. Neal @ WealthPilgrim.com says

    Fascinating question.

    Do I repulse you by honestly telling you I rarely feel much when I hear an ambulance.

    WHY?

    The odds are good that the person is going to be fine. At least that’s what I tell myself.

    Also, and this may seem really weird, I “get” that life is short and fleeting. You never know when a bus has your name on it. I believe in G-d and I believe that things are as they are meant to be.

    Am I sad when something terrible happens to someone I know? Very much so.

    Am I sad about suffering of other people? Absolutely.

    Are all these thins inevitable? Sadly…yes. I can do what I can do and no more.

    I am so detached from an ambulance going to help someone I don’t know or see that it doesn’t register.

    Maybe it will from now on Sam.
    .-= Neal @ WealthPilgrim.com´s last blog ..How To Increase Your Widow or Widower’s Benefits =-.

  15. Kevin M says

    My biggest personal finance related a-ha moment was after reading “Your Money or Your Life”. It was then I realized I didn’t have to work all my life and wait for retirement. I’ve kind of followed the default middle class path – college, get a job, buy a house, get married, accumulate credit card debt, get divorced, pay off debt, etc. I wish I would have read the book sooner after seeing all the potential money I could have saved, but perhaps going through all that led me to where I am now? I choose now to focus on the positive going forward and not look back and say “what if?”.

  16. Don@MoneyReasons says

    I’m curious to know what “a-ha” moments you’ve had that changed your way of looking at things.
    My current “a-ha” moment will be when I get my house paid off next month. Although it hasn’t happened yet, I can already realize that I’m going to be affected in a big way. Most likely, I’m going to take the training wheels off of life, and spin the wheel more (Vegas reference of course :))
    My previous “a-ha” moment was when my son was born… I suddenly
    became “Mr. Responsible”. It funny how having kids make you a lot more money conscious you become…

    Are we genetically predisposed to look at things a certain way?
    No, I think it’s more a learned thing… We might be genetically predisposed to react with a certain amount of anxiety to stress, but I think it’s the way we were raised that decides if we dwell on it or not.

    Why do some choose to be sad and pessimistic?
    I truly believe if that is you see all around you, and that has been drummed into you during your formative years, then that is what you believe is reality. Can this be beat? yes, but it’s tough…

  17. admin says

    @ THRIFTY GAL – Good point about people getting out of the way, and coming together to help someone else out. Yes, that is exactly the good feeling I feel as well.

    @ ROB – How come there are other commenters on previous threads that use the term “Hokey Rob” etc? What is it about your comments that rile people up?

  18. admin says

    @ Kevin – I guess you and Lean have a similar point of view then. I can honestly say I’ve never felt that way about being happy it’s not me in the ambulance. It’s always been either sorrow, or great pride help is on the way.

    “John Lennon said “life is what happens while we’re making other plans” and I think the sound of a siren pierces the complacency of our plans and brings us back to the moment where we truly belong.” This is a gret point.

  19. admin says

    @ SANDY, Great work getting out of poverty and doing the double shift! AWESOME! Love that part about going to the beach. I’m going to have to use that.

    @ NEAL, No you don’t repulse me, I just find it strange, and a reflection of our busy society for you to not feel anything. Maybe next time you see/hear one, you’ll think of me and this post, as well as the concerted effort by the public to get out of the way and help a stranger!

    @ KEVIN, I’ve heard of that book, but have never read it. Am I missing out? Should I read it? Maybe I can contact the publisher, and do a book review and giveaway!

    @ DON, nice man about paying off your house soon! Let me know how it feels! And let me know if the temptation of all that extra free cash flow drives you to drink and gamble in Vegas, Mr. Responsible!! :)

    Seriously, I’m afraid of what I’ll do if I had access to all my money, so I “go broke to win big” everyday.

  20. Joel says

    My biggest financial a-ha was realizing that this is a subject that can be learned and mastered. It’s not molecular chemistry, or something equally unknowable (to me).

    My parents were never good with money, so I never really learned how important it is to know this stuff for yourself. So I just kind of let the chips fall, and it’s only been recently that I realized that it’s not actually that hard.

    Plain-spoken books like “One up on Wall Street” and “I Will Teach You to Be Rich” were a godsend.
    .-= Joel´s last blog ..New Year’s Resolutions: 10 Steps to Get Your Financial Life in Order =-.

  21. Little House says

    My Ah-Ha moment came when I couldn’t ruin my finances any more than I already had. All of my credit cards had gone into default, I had been evicted from an apartment, and I realized I had to get my act together, even if it took one little step at a time. Now, almost 10 years later, my credit has drastically improved. I have become more financially savvy and make sure to budget expenses and stick that budget. I guess I was one of those people who had to learn from their mistakes!
    .-= Little House´s last blog ..Organizing my coupons =-.

  22. admin says

    @ LITTLE HOUSE – It’s great you’ve rebounded so well. When you’ve hit rock bottom, it’s just either a swim up, or give up.

    @ Joel – If you love books, a fascinating book I read over the holiday is “Too Big To Fail” by Andrew Soskin. Like reading a real life thriller about the past 18 months.

  23. Jon says

    I definitely see what you’re sayin- some people are predisposed to being pollyana and others negative nelly. I fall somewhere between the two extremes. As far as ambulance goes, when I’m having one of my better days I remember to pray for whoever is on the receiving end when I hear it go by.
    .-= Jon´s last blog ..PORTFOLIO UPDATE: 11:33 AM Eastern =-.

  24. admin says

    @ Jon – Good stuff man. BTW, how do you get the snapshot of your portfolio update into your blog? I’m so dumb when it comes to capturing an image and pasting, I need step by step instructions. If you’d like to join the comp in 2Q, you are welcome.

    @ Mrs. Money – Interesting breakdown of happiness. If it’s really 40% what we make of it, that’s very encouraging!

  25. Rob Bennett says

    How come there are other commenters on previous threads that use the term “Hokey Rob” etc? What is it about your comments that rile people up?

    You asked, Sam.

    There is a specific answer and a general answer to your question.

    The specific answer is that I told people about an error that a fellow made in a retirement study and he became angry about this. He has spent the last eight years of his life following me around the internet and destroying boards and blogs that permit me to post. He has a gang of Goon friends that help out. The guy owns a discussion board at which his Goon Squad meets and decides what blog to attack next and what tactics to use and all this sort of thing.

    I have told the Goons that I am looking for a lawyer to take the case on a contingency basis so that I can recover the losses that I have suffered from their efforts to destroy my internet business. I also hope to persuade lawmakers to change the law that governs the internet so that this sort of thing can never, never, never happen again. I expect to be contacting a large number of political blogs about this in coming months (many personal finance blog owners have either declined to write about it or have themselves banned honest posting on these matters).

    The general answer is that, while 99 percent of all humans are obviously repulsed by the tactics employed by this particular individual and his Goon Squad, about 90 percent of middle-class investors today believe that Buy-and-Hold Investing works. I say that it does not (basing my belief on the academic research of the past 30 years, which shows that the market is NOT efficient and thus does not set prices properly and that the entire Buy-and-Hold Model is therefore rooted in a fallacy).

    In ordinary circumstances, this would cause no problem. Learning that an investing strategy does not work is not a bad thing but a good thing as it opens up the possibility of investing in more effective ways. The problem is that people have believed in Buy-and-Hold for so long and feel that they have so much riding on it that they cannot bear to acknowledge the flaws. There is today a Social Taboo against reporting on the research showing that Buy-and-Hold does not work. I violate this Social Taboo on a daily basis. Many generally smart and good people view this as “rude.” They feel that I am hurting the feelings of the many people who believe in Buy-and-Hold.

    My view is that it is better for people to learn that Buy-and-Hold does not work from some guy who posts stuff on the internet than to learn it by seeing their retirement plans fail or by seeing their portfolio values crater. My view is that it cannot possibly be a bad thing for me to challenge Buy-and-Hold with my all the words at my command. If I am right, I am helping everyone who reads my words by doing that. If I am wrong, that will obviously come out as the result of any discussions held and having my misunderstandings publicly revealed will cause us all to feel a greater confidence in Buy-and-Hold (that’s obviously a good thing if Buy-and-Hold can stand up to informed scrutiny).

    I don’t ever attack the people who believe in Buy-and-Hold. I like the people. It’s because I like the people that I feel bound in conscience to attack the idea of Buy-and-Hold. I have come to believe (again, because of extensive research I have done) that the Buy-and-Hold idea is the most dangerous idea ever developed in the history of personal finance.

    I don’t say that this danger was created with malicious intent. I don’t believe that. I believe that the danger is the result of a mistake made by people who also did a lot of good things for us all. Still, the danger is real. I believe that it is the popularity of Buy-and-Hold that was the primary cause of the stock crash and the economic crisis that followed. I believe that we will see another crash unless we open the internet to honest posting on these questions and educate millions of middle-class investors as to the true realities of stock investing.

    Many Buy-and-Holders have doubts about the viability of their strategy. I hit emotional hot buttons when I tell them that those doubts are well-founded. People often strike out in anger, people often demand that I be silenced because of the pain that my words cause them. My words should not cause people pain. The fact that they do itself tells a tale. It tells us that investing is an intensely emotional life endeavor.

    We need to deal with this matter. We need to talk it out. We need to make sense of it. I am open to any reasonable means of proceeding. Silencing those who know about the flaws in the Buy-and-Hold Model is not a reasonable way of proceeding. That puts off the Learning Experience that we all need to enjoy. That hurts us. We have been putting this off for a long, long, long, long time and this “solution” to the problem has never worked. The only way out of this is through it. All personal finance blogs need to get involved in talking it over.

    Talking it over is all upside and no downside. We all end up winners. We can change the history of investing. We can all learn how to retire years earlier. We can get ourselves out of this economic crisis. We can make our blogs 10 times more successful than they have been in the past. We just need to work up the courage to honor our belief in free speech not just in words but in actions too.

    If we allow both sides to be told, people will figure out what’s right. But we absolutely must permit both sides of the story to be told. The market cannot begin functioning properly again until we do that. Talking this out is all upside and zero downside for every single person concerned about these matters (and that’s just about everyone).

    Rob
    .-= Rob Bennett´s last blog ..Podcast #193 — My Vision =-.

  26. Jon says

    Thanks- I’d be honored if you toss me in the comp in Q2. As far as screenshots and technology goes, I’m illiterate but I have a mac so it helps. Here’s what I did:

    (1) Pulled up portfolio on my discount broker.

    (2) Pressed command shift 3 to take a screenshot on my mac. It automatically saved it to my desktop. I guess for windows you could use the “print screen” button?

    (3) I double clicked on the image on my desktop, used a mouse, and cropped it. For windows I imagine you could use Paint and do the same thing.

    (4) At the end of my post, I just clicked the add image (from hard drive) button and somehow it worked. It took up too much space, but I’m not complaining.

    Let me know how it works out for you or if you have questions.

  27. The Genius says

    @ Rob – I donno man, you seem a little eccentric to be honest. Saying “taking the bait” etc is just kind of weird.

    @ Admin – The best feeling is when people band together and get out of the way, like someone said above. It’s the same feeling as during 9/11 in NYC. We banded together, in fact the entire country banded together to support each other.
    .-= The Genius´s last blog ..An undergraduate think tank? =-.

  28. Rob Bennett says

    you seem a little eccentric to be honest

    Thanks for sharing your reaction, Genius. I actually take some comfort from that comment. I’ve been called lotsworse for lots less cause on lots of prior occasions.

    My sense is that things are looking up for me (and for all of us). There was a time when I wouldn’t have even dared to post the words set forth in the comment above. The Social Taboo is weakening and that’s the first step down the path to where we all begin learning some amazing stuff together.

    And we’re all a little bit nuts, you know — the Buy-and-Holders and the Rationals both. It’s a human thing!

    Rob
    .-= Rob Bennett´s last blog ..Podcast #193 — My Vision =-.

  29. Mrs. Micah says

    I walk down my street at night,
    The city lights are cold and violet.
    I am comforted by the
    approaching sound of trucks and sirens.
    Even though the world’s so bad
    these men rush out to help the dying
    and though I am no use to them
    I do my part by simply smiling.

    - “Ampersand” by Amanda Palmer (from Who Killed Amanda Palmer)

    When I first heard that song in the Winter/Spring it gave me a new perspective on ambulances/fire trucks. As for ah hah moments, I know that marrying someone w/massive student loans changed how I regarded finance. But more on that on my Friday Financial Foul Up. :)
    .-= Mrs. Micah´s last blog ..Why I Don’t Want to Retire Early =-.

  30. Charlie says

    I feel neither happy or sad when I see an ambulance, I feel numb in a way, more a feeling of sympathy and say a prayer for them hoping they’ll be okay. I can’t think of any monumental aha moments right now that relate to finance, but I have had some great aha moments lately when I finally learn the proper lyrics of a song. I have been WAY off on some lol.

    As far as money goes I try to keep my thinking positive. If I think about how much I’ve had to give away to our inefficient state and fed. government in taxes I just get frustrated so instead I focus on what I’ve been able to save for my future and what I’ve been able to give to charity. Thinking about how I’ve been able to help change someone else’s life and getting positive feedback from that person is very motivating.

    Everyone is wired differently in terms of how happy/cheery they naturally are (there are scientific articles about this) but regardless of that we can all make an effort to better ourselves continually and actively look for positive approaches to the problems we face.

  31. Bytta @151 Days Off says

    My financial a-ha moment is when i read this story about a couple who managed to keep their living cost to $12k annually. I realise that I won’t get to that level but it opened my eyes about the possibility of living simply and cheaply. The implication is the sense of freedom in knowing that I don’t need to keep a high-paying job I’m not passionate about in order to maintain a decent lifestyle. While I’m still doing this type of job, I feel better knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

    My life a-ha moment is when my beloved told me that I should accept life as it is and appreciate it. I swear that at that time I thought it was God talking to me through him.

    As for the ambulance moment, well, if i was in the car, I would get busy trying to get out of their way. No particular profound feeling other than “i better get out of their way”.
    .-= Bytta @151 Days Off´s last blog ..Day 3: The Investment Review: Time for the Truth =-.

  32. admin says

    @ ROB – Hmmm, had no idea you had a “goon squad” after you. Care to share a link or two and highlight where the original debate started? There are two sides to every story, and the least I can do is understand both sides.

    I agree that one can’t buy and hold forever. There has to be an ultimate exit price.

  33. admin says

    @ Mrs. Micah – Thanks for highlighting that poem/song! Good stuff :) Will check out the Financial Foul Up on Friday I guess!

    @ Charlie – Hahaha I hear you loud and clear on figuring out LYRICS! Oh gosh, the discovery of the true lyrics are so funny, and I’ve been wrong so often. Yes, the feedback of making a positive change on someone must be the most motivating thing ever!

    @ Bytta – Yes the possibility of financial frugality is intriguing indeed. Very interesting that you don’t feel emotion, but the immediate sense of duty to get out of the way. Maybe I’m just an emotional guy?

  34. admin says

    @ Jon – Thanks for the tips! I’m a mac user myself, and it worked! Check out “The Samurai Fund” tab above, as well as scroll back to the original post. You can check out all the details. Thanks!

  35. Rob Bennett says

    ROB – Hmmm, had no idea you had a “goon squad” after you. Care to share a link or two and highlight where the original debate started?

    Here’s the URL for an article that contains 101 snippets of posts that my fellow community members put to discussion boards asking that the site administrators do something about the abusive stuff and permit civil and reasoned discussion of these important questions to go forward:

    http://www.passionsaving.com/investing-discussion-boards.html

    Here’s the URL for an article explaining why the reckless promotion of Buy-and-Hold for 30 years after the academic research showed that there is precisely zero chance of it ever working for the long-term investor is the primary cause of the economic crisis:

    http://www.passionsaving.com/cause-current-financial-crisis.html

    The debate started on May 13, 2002, when I put a post to a Motley Fool board pointing out that the Old School safe withdrawal rate studies (these are the studies that financial planners use to help us plan our retirements) get the numbers wrong because they fail to account for the effect of changing valuation levels. Here’s the URL to an article in which I quote 13 big-name experts who have acknowledged in the days since that I am right about this:

    http://www.passionsaving.com/stocks-in-retirement.html

    There are two sides to every story, and the least I can do is understand both sides.

    Yes. This is the best possible reaction to the words that I posted above. The story that I tell is so strange that it it unbelievable for those who have much experience with how humans act. Yet I document the entire thing. There’s got to be some sort of explanation for how such a thing happened.

    Many of the Goons are friends of mine from the old days, Sam. The guy who leads the Smear Campaigns (he has devoted the last eight years of his life to destroying me) is the first person named on the Acknowledgments page of my book! He was the fellow who started the Motley Fool board at which I posted about safe withdrawal rates. He had a FAQ statement at that board telling newcomers to “read everything by Rob before posting, his stuff is the best stuff here ” (that’s a paraphrase). There’s obviously something very, very weird going on here.

    What’s going on is that a group of academics who in most respects did wonderful work also just happened to make a mistake and that mistake has grown more and more and more dangerous over time. The academics discovered that short-term timing (changing your stock allocation with the expectation of seeing a benefit within a year or two) never works. This was huge. This changed the history of investing. This insight is the foundation for the entire Buy-and-Hold Model, for all of what has become the conventional investing wisdom of the past three decades.

    The mistake was that the academics jumped to the conclusion that long-term timing (changing your stock allocation with the expectation of seeing a benefit within five or 10 years) also doesn’t work. Nothing could be further from the truth. Long-term timing always works. There is not a single exception in the historical record. And long-term timing is required for success as an investor. Investors who fail to engage in long-term timing are virtually certain to see their portfolios wiped out at some point in their investing lifetimes. The consequences of failing to engage in long-term timing are truly tragic.

    We didn’t learn this until 1981 (this is after millions had already been spent promoting Buy-and-Hold), when Yale Professor Robert Shiller published research showing that valuations affect long-term returns and that therefore the claim of the earlier academics that the market is efficient and sets prices properly in the short term is pure nonsense. Here is the URL for an article quoting numerous authorities for the proposition that the efficient market theory has been shown to be pure nonsense:

    http://www.passionsaving.com/buy-and-hold-investing.html

    Here is a URL linking to 20 studies that show that valuations affect long-term returns (if valuations affect long-term returns, it obviously does not make sense to stay at the same stock allocation at all valuation levels):

    http://www.passionsaving.com/buy-and-hold-is-dead-part-one.html

    The situation that we are in today is that 90 percent of investors believe that it is not necessary to time the market to achieve long-term success. Yet common sense and 30 years of academic research and the entire historical record says the opposite — that long-term timing is critical. The big problem is that The Stock-Selling Industry is embarrassed about the mistakes they have made. They have spent hundreds of millions of dollars promoting an investing strategy that has caused the greatest loss of middle-class wealth in the history of the United States!

    My belief is that the Personal Finance Blogosphere offers us The Way Out. We today possess the power to explore the realities of stock investing without getting the permission of The Stock-Selling Industry. Once we do, The Stock-Selling Industry will come around. I have spoken to a number of financial planners who have indicated that they would love to be able to tell the straight story but feel that it would be career suicide to do so in today’s environment. Once the cat is out of the bag, there will no longer be any penalties attached to telling people the straight story.

    The rub is — Lots of people who run blogs or post at boards have endorsed Buy-and-Hold in earlier days. They too are embarrassed to admit their mistakes. And these people sincerely believe that Buy-and-Hold kinda sorta works. They are suffering from cognitive dissonance. They have believed in this stuff for so long that it comes as a shock to hear that it doesn’t work and they just cannot easily let that in. So their first reaction is to silence or shun those telling the story of what the academic research of the past 30 years has revealed to us.

    My belief is that we need to accept that people are in pain and proceed accordingly. We should be sensitive. We should be diplomatic. We should be loving. All these things are good. But we must also insist that honest posting on the flaws of the Buy-and-Hold Model be both permitted and encouraged at all investing blogs. Over time people will get used to the idea and come around. But people cannot get used to an idea that they never hear! We have to get the ideas out there to have any chance whatsoever of taking things to a positive place.

    We are in a period of transition. The people who developed the Buy-and-Hold Model taught us some wonderful stuff. Their work is the foundation for all the strategies that I explore at my site. But their first-draft effort at developing a scientific way to invest was not perfect. We need to help them out by fixing the mistakes they made. Even if they do not want us to help them out, we must do so — it is not in anyone’s interest (least of all the Buy-and-Hold advocates) for the current state of affairs to continue. The current state of affairs is a disaster of epic proportions.

    I agree that one can’t buy and hold forever. There has to be an ultimate exit price.

    This is a common-sense observation. How often do you see discussions of what that exit price is? We all need to know the answer to this question. We are not going to figure out what the answer is until we open up the possibility of having lots of smart people share their thoughts on the question. We need to have thousands of people providing constructive input. We cannot get to first base so long as there are people insisting dogmatically that there is no price whatsoever at which stocks no longer offer a good long-term value proposition. We need to do something about the dogmatism of the most strident Buy-and-Hold advocates.

    There is no one answer to the question you raise here, Sam. I am not saying that I know the one definitive answer. I am saying that we all should support the idea of encouraging extensive discussion of the question. It’s a very, very, very. very good question. Is there some price at which stocks no longer offer a good long-term value proposition? If yes, what is that price? We all need to know. At the very bare minimum, we all need to become informed enough to be able to talk intelligently about the matter. We need to work together to launch a national debate on what really works in stock investing.

    Rob
    .-= Rob Bennett´s last blog ..Podcast #193 — My Vision =-.

    • admin says

      SFaith – Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and saying a prayer! Over the past 2 years, I sure needed a positive shift in everything, otherwise, I’d be one depressed individual!

  36. Jerry says

    I agree your friend’s perspective is definitely the more hopeful one and that does lead one to be more proactive. Having a hopeful outlook is your insurance policy for getting through life’s challenges. It is not automatic for me so I have to try really hard to find those silver linings sometimes but I always feel better when I do.

  37. Everyday Tips says

    My aha moment came pretty recently.

    My son had some pretty severe back pain after playing soccer. (He is 12.) We saw the doctor did a bone scan, etc. While we were waiting for test results, a boy we knew of through a friend died of bone cancer at the age of 15.

    So, when the doctor came back and said my son had a stress fracture in his spine, I screamed Hallelujah! Yep, stress fracture is a bummer and no sports for 3 months stinks. But, there are a lot worse things out there.

    Thanks for sending me to this post from the Yakezie forum Sam.

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