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My Love Affair with the Fading Excitement of Stock Market Investing

Watch any movie or TV show about investing in the stock market and you will be totally captivated by all of the excitement.

People on the trading floor shouting and running around. The guy from Billions making some back door deal to screw someone over and make himself a ton of money. The excess of The Wolf of Wall Street.

It’s also this same excitement that can lead to the intimidation of the stock market. We think that all of these real-life “characters” are some experts manipulating some impossible system that we could never understand.

But then, hopefully through this blog or some other medium, you’ve come to realize that this is all a mirage. These “active” stock market investors underperform the market 80% of the time. And there is no way to predict who will be part of the 20% to outperform the market beforehand. And just because someone outperformed the market before does not mean that they will do it again.

Regression to the mean is the rule.

This is when another type of investing excitement pops up

If you are anything like me, you get super excited when you learn all about how passive investing in low cost, broadly diversified index funds will make you better than 80% of Wall Street.

You dig deeper and learn about asset allocation, rebalancing, and you figure out how to manage your own finances.

Then you actually come up with a whole written financial plan.

And you put that plan into action!

That is what I did

I took time and dedicated myself to financial education. I read a number of books like these, listened to podcasts like these, and read one financial blog post a day.

This started probably around February/March 2020. So, by May 2020, my wife and I had out financial plan in place and were ready to start putting it into action.

One of the first things that I did was to put $1750 into a Roth IRA. This was about all that we could spare for this while still training in NYC with 2 kids and meager income.

Honestly, we should have just used this money to pay off loans. That would have actually been following our financial plan. That’s also what Selenid reminded me that we should do.

But, I was excited

I had just learned how to actually invest wisely and stress free in the stock market. I wanted to start right away! And I knew that this was the last time in my life that I would be able to contribute directly into a Roth IRA.

(Note that you can contribute to a Roth IRA for the prior tax year up until that year’s tax deadline. This is usually April 15, but was pushed back to July for the 2019 tax year by the CARES Act. That’s how I could still contribute in May for the 2019 tax year.)

And so I opened a Roth IRA with Vanguard, plopped the money into some index funds, and felt really accomplished. Which I think is legit! As you progress in your financial education, remember to pat yourselves on the back for your accomplishments!

And at this point, my stock market investing excitement reached a high!

I would check the S&P 500 trend every day (ok fine, multiple times a day) on my iPhone app.

I would check my account pretty much every day and look at how things changed.

Not by any planning, I had investing on the upswing after the CoronaBear market. So most days, my account balance was going up. Granted it wasn’t by much, I had <$2,000 invested.

Related Post:
3 Important Investing Lessons You Need to Learn from the Corona Bull Market

But still, this was a very cool experience living out the principles that I had been learning and teaching myself.

Then it began to fade

I can’t tell you exactly when it began to happen. But it did happen.

Maybe I checked my iPhone Stocks app every week or so. Maybe I checked my Vanguard account once in awhile.

Eventually I just stopped altogether.

And that’s why I’m writing this post. Because randomly the other day, I happened to swipe on my phone and see what the S&P 500 had done for that day. And I realized that I hadn’t done that in forever. I also realized that I didn’t care one bit about what the market had done that day.

And that’s when I reallllly loved stock market investing

That’s the beauty of it all, right?!

investing excitement

When you invest in the stock market the right way, you are doing so passively. You are approximating the market, which in the long term is a very safe bet. You absolutely, 100% do not care about short term volatility. We are in this for the long haul baby!

That all means that you don’t need to pay attention on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis if you don’t want. You just really need to rebalance back to your chosen asset allocation once a year. That’s it. And you will be better than 80% of all investors, including Wall Street.

The excitement surrounding your stock market investing has now become boredom

And that’s really the goal.

You are investing to secure your future. Not to chase excitement. So invest in a way that secures your future in the best, most efficient manner and requires minimal of your effort.

Then you can spend your time following your passions and the stuff that you really get excited about!

Just don’t let this boredom lead you to the dark side…

That’s right. This boredom is a total blessing when viewed with the right perspective and mindset. But it can absolutely be a curse with the wrong outlook.

investing excitement
Don’t do it!

I know people, some in my own family, who totally understand and agree with the superior success of index fund investing. But still, they are chasing that initial excitement that they felt when they started investing.

So, they turn to the dark side…individual stock picking, day trading, and timing the market with things like options and puts, etc.

Please don’t do this.

This is gambling. That is the type of excitement that you are chasing. It is exactly the same. Reel yourself in and remember why you started investing in the first place. It wasn’t for excitement.

Ideally, your written financial plan will keep you on the right path, once again highlighting why it is so important to have one!

Related Post:
Still Need a Written Personal Financial Plan? Here…Use Mine!

Ready to learn more about the right way to invest in the stock market?!

What do you think? Are you bored with your stock investments? Have you been tempted to add some excitement back? What’s your philosophy? Let me know in the comments below!

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    The Prudent Plastic Surgeon

    Jordan Frey MD, a plastic surgeon in Buffalo, NY, is one of the fastest-growing physician finance bloggers in the world. See how he went from financially clueless to increasing his net worth by $1M in 1 year and how you can do the same! Feel free to send Jordan a message at [email protected]

    8 thoughts on “My Love Affair with the Fading Excitement of Stock Market Investing”

    1. Awesome post!

      Fwiw, one somewhat trival grammatical thing that came to mind was in this sentence you wrote … “If you are anything like me, you get super excited when you learn all about how passive investing in low cost, broadly diversified index funds will make you better than 80% of Wall Street.”

      There was a Bloomberg story yesterday headlined “JPMorgan Chase Earnings: Bank Always Wins” about the bank’s best quarterly earnings in the bank’s history. I’d rephrase what you wrote to say that the passive investing in low cost, broadly diversified index funds will make you better than 80% of investors because of the expenses and taxes Wall Street and government collect 🙂

      I’ve been following your advice to read one finance book chapter each day and my book this week is Charles Ellis’ Winning the Loser’s Game., and it’s a topic I’ve been thinking a llot about the balance of the zero sum game .

      Reply
    2. Hey Tom, awesome book that you’re reading, picking individual stock or active funds is a “loser’s game” and just stick to passive index funds.

      Jordan, that’s great that you don’t look at your portfolio too much anymore- stops you from tinkering and doing something stupid. I still check daily a total stock market and total international ETF just to see if there are tax loss harvesting opportunities, but am cognizant that my looking can lead me to the darkside of want to tinker.

      Reply
    3. Rikki, that makes sense. I keep bookmarked this post on the dangers of checking an account too much– https://www.businessinsider.com/forgetful-investors-performed-best-2014-9 I came aross the post earlier this year I think on either this blog or on White Coat Investor. (It’s a study on how the investors that do best are those that check their account less frequently.) Apparently due to activity bias, illusion of control, overtrading, overconfidence bias, fees, return chasing, etc.

      I like your approach of doing it only for tax loss harvesting opportunities and only allowing changes that are consistent with your investment policy statement. Reminds me of how Odysseus tied himself up to the masts so he could still listen to the Siren without being enticed to destruction. Where in this case it would be ok to check on the market as long as there’s a financial plan / investment policy statement to act as a mast to avoid the enticement to destruction!

      Reply
    4. Yeah dude absolutely I totally agree with the sirens analogy. Also believe it or not in my IPS I also have a part where if I sell stocks in a bear market that I will castrate myself. Nice visual where I frame doing something as hideous as that will have a direct consequence on myself! Create a lot of stallion swear I will never ever panic sell 🙂

      Reply
    5. Thanks for what you do! Totally agree with your main point that effective successful investing is typically pretty dull. However, I have to shake my head every time I read the standard “day trading and options will ruin your accounts” comment. There are ways to day trade (e.g. SP 500 futures) and use options (covered calls) very responsibly and effectively. I certainly don’t do this as the main component of my investment plan but with study and practice (complex but much easier than medicine!) it can be done successfully to augment the standard index funds approach and provide some of that continually sought “side gig income”

      Reply
      • Thanks for reading IIMD!

        I don’t necessarily disagree with having a small percentage of your allocation for these more riskier strategies but it has to be seen for what it is. There is higher risk which correlates with the potential for higher returns. I think for most docs, it unnecessary risk.

        But to be fair, it’s an area that I don’t study a lot. Maybe you can write a guest post??

        Reply
    6. Your post is interesting. I found it from physician on fire. But trying to read it on the phone with those ever present Facebook and Twitter icons on the left side of the page made it difficult. Please move them or get rid of them and I might read some thing else on your site

      Reply
      • Thanks for reading Danny! Working on this bug with WordPress. I hope you’ll continue to follow!

        TPPS

        Reply

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