If investing was a board game, it may be best categorized as Chutes & Ladders.  I loved this game growing up as a kid, the premise is simple.  Get to the top of the board by climbing ladders and progressing forward on each square, avoid the chutes if possible.

I think most of us would prefer climbing ladders versus sliding down chutes.  Unfortunately, in life and investing, much like a board game, forward progress is not guaranteed.  There are ups and downs to contend with and unexpected surprises (both good and bad).  The key is not reacting and leaning on your plan by staying flexible.

Here’s some suggestions on climbing more ladders, both in life and with your finances.

Cash is a valuable resource when the markets contract in value, how content are you with your current reserves?  Cash should be completely liquid and accessible at a moment’s notice, not tied up in some product trying to capture yield.  It’s acceptable for cash to just sit there waiting for you to use it as necessary.  Consider segmenting your cash in two or three accounts based on purpose.  Segmenting monies into a fun account, emergency reserve, and travel/kids/other account makes sense.  Automate contributions from your checking account each month to continuously add to what’s been set aside in your reserves.  Spend with a smile as that’s what your monies are there for.  It becomes a lot easier to spend when automated contributions will refill what’s been used.  This typically leads to better purchase decisions and avoids regret.

Take a walk outdoors with your dogs, family, and friends.  Getting exercise outside promotes adding good habits into your daily routine.  Walking is an easy way to become more active and strengthen your mobility.  There is no sense in planning for tomorrow if you are not taking care of yourself today.  Positive side effects of walking and other exercise includes better quality sleep.  Studies continue to verify the correlation of good sleep and good overall health.

Try to stop thinking about your money.  This is more difficult than it seems at face value, certainly in the current up/down market.  True wealth arrives, regardless of the amount, when you aren’t consumed with what you have or its daily movement.  Loosen your grip a bit on following your accounts or tracking balances.  It’s important to have a process that may be revisited periodically but checking balances on your accounts too frequently creates stress.  Most of what’s invested is likely out of your control.  Your financial plan likely determined your investment choices, now just let the plan work.

Read more books including fiction and biographies.  Reading on diverse topics outside of your field of expertise is valuable.  There’s a lot to learn by applying lessons or ideas from another profession into your daily work.  Not everything may translate over, however vital themes will.  Use this to grow your knowledge and create ideas you may revisit overtime.  Reading several books at a time may work for you, it does for me.  Another positive side effect from reading includes ongoing learning.  We are at our best by staying curious and consistently learning new things.

If long term planning seems overwhelming, start with short term planning.  Yes, there is a lot of uncertainty today, even the best designed plans may not play out as anticipated.  Short term planning recognizes this and keeps your focus on inputs in the near term.  The benefits from this approach include more confidence in your daily decisions and the ability to look further out into tomorrow when you’re ready.  Gaining goal clarity in the near term supports a longer-term vision of where you may like to be.

If you’d like to learn more about planning and strategy and how it may help you and those you care about, reach out to us below and we’d be happy to chat.

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Advisory services through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Cambridge and Flowerstone Financial are not affiliated.

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