In my post discussing how managing your family’s money can be a full-time job, I reveal how I didn’t realize my wife’s SEP-IRA account was sitting on 25% cash for who knows how long. With so many accounts to manage, this mistake ended up costing us several thousand dollars in opportunity cost. As a result, I’ve been considering hiring a money manager to help us out.
I’d like to highlight a couple insightful comments from the post that have made me realize several things that may be beneficial to all of you doing your best to achieve financial freedom.
“I am bothered that your WIFE did not notice that HER SEP-IRA was not in alignment with your agreed-upon investment framework!
Perhaps the solution, instead of hiring an outside money manager, is to let your wife, the one person in your life that you can trust 100% and who has nothing but the best interest of your family at heart, take a greater role in managing your investments. Not only would that reduce your burden, it would give you peace of mind knowing that your financially hands-on wife and mother of your child would be ready and able to keep everything on track financially if the day ever comes when you aren’t able to.”
Dunny’s response to OlderandWiser,
“I am in agreement that both partners should be involved in financial matters in order to be able to help with plans and decisions and to take over if required. On the other hand, “mistakes” like leaving some cash sitting around are not serious.
There will be other places where you make more than expected to more than offset the places where you make less than expected. What matters is total return and constantly increasing net worth. So you made a 20% overall return instead of 20.01% overall return that year.
You can’t always optimize everything and simplifying is probably going to make optimizing easier so you don’t miss anything serious. Family matters and health sometimes take more of a priority.“
These comments are insightful because they highlight several things:
1) OlderandWiser’s comment should give us all hope that we will eventually stop making financial mistakes the older we get. I asked her whether she has ever made any financial mistakes before and it doesn’t seem like she has. Her comment also reminds us to have regular financial checkups with our partners, have a clearly written will, and leave directives on future investment decisions and so on.
2) It’s easy to judge someone’s errors, especially when they make them public. What folks should realize is that the division of labor in each household is different and should be respected based on what works for them. I’m comfortable sharing my errors because I want to get better. Every day I realize how little I know. And to learn from others is one of the best ways to improve. Further, I know other people can learn from my mistakes as well.
3) What is considered an error is different for everyone. My error was not making my wife a potential 20% return from her 25% cash balance in 2017. The mistake very well indeed cost me around 0.1% in overall net worth performance since it’s one of 17 accounts. Others believe an error is buying Bitcoin at $19,500 with a credit card charging a 25% APR.
4) If you’ve already reached financial independence where you no longer have to work, there’s no reason to stress out about always optimizing your finances to the max.
5) Finally, perhaps the error is not an error at all, but a win.
Viewing A Financial Error As A Financial Win
Since 1999, my goal has been to build as much wealth as possible through capital appreciation. If my goal was to get to a $10 million liquid net worth, I wanted to find ways to get to $10 million quickly, not slowly through dividends. The best way I knew how was to buy growth stocks, San Francisco real estate, and build an online business.
Once I achieved my financial goal, the strategy was to shift from capital appreciation to capital preservation. The capital preservation strategy would hopefully beat inflation by 2-3X while also providing steady income during retirement. After all, once you’ve won the game, there’s really no need taking excessive risk anymore.
I reached a baseline level of financial independence in 2012 that has since grown thanks to an incredible run in the stock market, real estate market, and our online business. As a result, it’s not a bad idea for us to dial back risk.
Instead of viewing the 25% cash allocation as a loss in my wife’s SEP-IRA, I now see it as a win to be able to deploy her cash during an 11% stock market correction in February while also purchasing bonds at lower prices with higher yields. If the stock market had tanked by 50% in 2017, you could easily argue that holding cash was a win.
You see, unless our passive income dries up and our online business goes bankrupt, there will always be new cash to invest. The same goes for anybody with a job. You’ll never get the perfect cash balance or the perfect investment allocation at any given time.
Therefore, don’t stress about fnancial perfection, enjoy the overall accumulation process instead. Nitpicking about every single financial detail is unneeded stress.
There’s a great Chinese saying that I hope you guys follow, “If the direction is correct, sooner or later you will get there.”
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Illustration by CKongSavage.com