Stay The Course
Jack Bogle passed away earlier this year. If you don't know who he is, no worries. You can read about him here. Basically, he was, is, and forever will be a legend in the investing world. He founded the mutual fund company, Vanguard. He also pioneered the index fund and impacted countless individual investors.
When it came to investing, Mr. Bogle had a famous quote: "stay the course." It was even the title of his book.
Simple, not easy.
But what if we don't have a course to begin with? How can we "stay the course" then?
Market dips & dives & crashes. Our genetic makeup. The financial media and headlines. And so many more factors are trying to separate us from the returns the markets have to offer. They are all trying to get us out of the market!
Trying to get us to focus on factors out of our control, like market timing and the hot stock list for [insert year here].
Trying to keep us from staying the course.
How do we combat this?
To stay the course, you have to have a course. A comprehensive financial plan with an investment plan as part of the financial plan. And your investment plan should include an investment policy statement.
The financial planning process will help you decide/direct how and where you save, as well as how much you save. In short, where your money goes - and why. From there, the investment policy statement is your guide. It outlines your general investment goals and objectives:
How are you investing?
What's your asset allocation
What's your tolerance for risk?
What are your liquidity needs?
In addition to serving as guide around how you invest, it can also lead to successful investing by keeping you focused on your long term objectives. It can also protect you against potential mistakes like changing directions when the market goes a little crazy. Or like the mistakes I described above.
Your investment policy statement helps you make informed decisions around your investments as well as informed decisions about your behavior.
When you can do this, you stand a better chance of staying the course.