Suppose someone told you, “I’m worried about what will happen in the future, so I want to make sure I have less money when I get there.”
This makes no sense, and yet, it is essentially what conventional investing wisdom tells anxious investors to do: “Hedge your risks! Seek safety!” But what does this mean? When investors choose “safety,” they are sacrificing their growth over the long term. In return for stability in the short term, they are choosing a smoother ride to a poorer future.
It’s human and normal to feel concern for the future. But choosing, in the moment, to soothe that short-term fear about long-term returns by avoiding volatility means you may be sacrificing those exact long-term returns that would soothe your concerns.
And investing for the long term doesn’t mean foregoing spending—it means a little bit less short-term spending now in exchange for (hopefully) a little more spending overall, in the long run. Spending more money now does mean that you will miss out on opportunities to invest that money for compounding returns, so it can be another road to a poorer future.
Choosing to invest for the long run is not a path of deprivation. Suppose the worst of the worst just happened last week: nuclear war broke out, or a giant asteroid hit Texas, or maybe you got struck by lightning. Should the worst happen, you are not likely to go out wishing that you had invested more conservatively: “If only my balances hadn’t wiggled so much! If only my returns had been lower!”
But maybe you could go out a little more content knowing that at least you committed to a possibly-more-abundant path: you chose to focus on the long term, and maybe you enjoyed some of it along the way. Maybe you found the perfect house for you, maybe you took that amazing vacation with your loved ones that you’d been dreaming of. You made your life happen along the way.
We invest for the long run; we spend for the long run too, so to speak. We don’t invest for a poorer future; we don’t spend beyond our means. (The road to broke is never worth it.) And, as always, you need to understand where your short-term money is—and keep it out of your long-term buckets.
We think the smart money is in investing for the best possible future. But we never know what the future may hold, so it does make some sense to hedge your bets. At 228 Main, we don’t tend to think of hedging investments in terms of bonds or gold or real estate—or any conventional option that sacrifices returns for Future You in order to pander to the fears of Current You.
Instead, you could continue investing for long-term growth and spend some money on the ultimate hedge: living your own best life.
Ready to talk about what this means for your portfolio? Call or write, anytime.
Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss.
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