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3 Things 9-18

Thing One


Don’t Let The Headlines Discourage You


In one of the stanzas of his timeless poem, IF, Rudyard Kipling says:


“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you.


If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you yet make allowance for their doubting too.”


Though the example is not a direct translation, it’s close enough to be applicable to  today’s subject - optimism.


There are countless reasons to be generally discouraged by our country’s affairs.  To name a few:


  • Inflation has damaged personal finances as real median household incomes today are less than they were in 2020 ($78,250 vs $74,580). 

  • The average price for a gallon of gas is up almost 75% in three years ($2.27 in August 2020 vs $3.95 in August 2023).  

  • The US public debt is 123% of GDP and climbing fast.  

  • The Social Security and Medicare trust funds are projected to deplete between 2031 and 2035 and payout at a reduced rate thereafter if nothing is done.  

  • In a negative trend that has accelerated since the pandemic, twenty five percent and thirty-seven percent respectively of US 8th graders aren’t rated as minimally proficient in math and reading. (Note: disaggregating the statistics by race tells an even more troubling story for blacks and hispanics).


But there are many more reasons to be optimistic.  Chief among the reasons is that, as Americans, we still have freedoms that allow us to do well on an individual basis despite the many macro problems our country faces.  In America, a person born into extreme poverty isn’t condemned to live his life in that state.  And a person who has it all (financially)and loses it can start again.  Along the way, both individuals should take care to educate themselves, properly insure their risks, and invest prudently.  And you should too.  


Thing Two


Beware Of Predictions, Especially Ones About The Future


The picture below this post captures the headlines from two articles published in Business Insider within twenty-four hours of each other last week.  The first one suggests that in the near term, the S&P 500 index will rise by 1100 points and the second one says it will fall by 1800 points.  So, from a current price level of 4450, various experts have predicted that between now and this time next year, the index will be priced somewhere between 2670 and 5550.


Which one is right?  Your guess is as good as mine - and theirs - because, as Niels Bohr, the world renowned physicist reminded us years ago, predictions about the future are difficult.  Lucky for us, the essence of long term planning is to ignore the noise that is often contained in headlines like the ones below.  That doesn’t mean we should ignore what’s going on around us.  We actually should pay as much attention as possible.  We just shouldn’t get too irrationally exuberant when we see a positive headline and we shouldn’t panic when we see a negative one.  We should have a plan and stick to it.  And in putting our plan together, we should allow for the ups and downs that inevitably occur. If those ups and downs begin to cause us too much angst or our objectives change, we should make a new plan and stick to that one. 


If you think you or anyone you know may need help, let us know.



Thing Three


Just A Thought


"Enough courage to get started + enough sense to focus on something you’re naturally suited for + enough persistence to stay in the game long enough to catch a few lucky breaks + a lot of hard work. There’s your recipe." - James Clear


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