My three year old grandson doesn’t like to take no for an answer. So his parents have started using a soft push-back, “Maybe Tomorrow.” J. caught on quickly. When his Dad asked him to share his figgy bar with his sister, he smiled and said, “Maybe Tomorrow.”
I’ve come to appreciate the term. It’s a way for me to think about tasks I’ve put off without guilt or shame. If there’s something I’ve put to the side, I can leave a sticky note with “maybe tomorrow” on it, and try to make time for it during the week. So, if you’re hesitant to engage with your stock portfolio, try the “maybe tomorrow” approach.
Many readers have shared a reluctance to dig into their portfolios. I’ve found learning with others or from others makes a foreboding experience less intimidating. Being active in my stock club boosted my “market-confidence.” Also, my financial advisor validated my “investment-aptitude” and reduced my fears . Not only did he know a lot more than I did, but he also kept an eye on my portfolio quarter after quarter, which was a good back-up to my inconsistent oversight.
Dividing an over-sized task into small chunks can also help. I’ve been a social worker for decades. When I had clients with a million problems, I helped them choose one they could stomach that day. “Start where your client is” was the mantra professors and supervisors chanted ad nauseam. So where are you at with respect to your portfolio? Can you put your hands on your 401K reports? Have you ever visited the web site or called the 800 number for the company offering your plan? Have you made a few fund changes, but don’t know how to evaluate the merit of those decisions?
The first step in thinking about the shade of green you want your portfolio to be, is to become familiar with it. “Maybe tomorrow” you can go window-shopping in your portfolio. What’s on display? How many funds do you have? What’s the balance in each? Do you have a large cash position, resulting from the great recession which scared us all or the recent decline in the market?
Take your emotions out of the picture for the moment. Make believe it isn’t really your portfolio. Approach it objectively, like a homework assignment in a financial literacy course. Glean some basic information. How much is it worth…what funds does it include…how are they performing? Come up with a few questions you’d like answered.
At this juncture make an emotional calculation – how did this window shopping excursion go? Would you consider making a similar trip in the near future? Would you prefer to ask a friend or colleague to join you? Is there someone you think could be a mentor? Ask around, chances are there’s someone hiding in plain sight.
Do you have colleagues who share your desire to learn more? If so make a visit to your HR department together and explain you’d like HR to design a tutorial so you and your colleagues can take better advantage of your 401k plan. When can you call on HR? “Maybe Tomorrow?”
If you have specific questions, consider leaving a comment on this blog or contacting me. Your question will likely be relevant to others. If you’re a reader who’s comfortable navigating your 401k, consider offering a tutorial to colleagues, friends, and family who aren’t.
Once you’ve learned the ropes and/or have a trusted mentor at your side, you’re ready to go from “window shopping” to making some decisions. Maybe you’ll select a new fund because it’s greener. Maybe you’ll discard an old fund because its past performance is troubling. Once you learn the ropes, checking on your funds can be as routine as sorting through your out of season clothes: Keepers – my Kohl’s off white summer top; Hold (for a thinner tomorrow) my brown capris; Bring to good will – that striped sweater I’ve never really liked.
Best of luck overcoming your personal version of inertia and taking those first steps toward greening your portfolio. Start today, or…maybe tomorrow.
Blogging is definitely a synapse-growing experience. I’m pleased to report that I’ve been getting some help with it on the IT side; My plan is to add more resources, beef up my static pages and make the links more user friendly. (My progress has been slow, the shoemaker’s elves have not made a visit lately.)
I continue to be uplifted by GOOD NEWS in this crazy world – a lot of it involves policies, models and products which reduce the impact of climate change. I will be publishing more GOOD NEWS posts. There are so many great stories waiting patiently for me to extract from my email and share with you.
I continue to reach out to guest bloggers, and am also trying to publish more frequently. I’ve been learning about finding a bigger audience for this blog. Any sharing you can do would be much appreciated.