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Alligators, Kittens, and Market Timing Around the Election | EP 267

What You’ll Get Out Of Today’s Show

  • Following US Election Day results, it’s important to remember the alligators and kittens, a concept to approach overall mental wellbeing. The negative influences in life are alligators and all of the things that make life better are kittens. Focus on getting rid of the alligators.
  • It’s a human bias to focus on the negative. How do you focus time and attention on the things that make life better? For Brad, he cut watching the news out of his life which has helped him to achieve a better mental framework for life.
  • The business model of the new is to keep you watching through the next commercial break. They cause anxiety. You can stay informed without being a part of that model.
  • Control what you can control and you will be in a better financial position four years from now regardless of the election outcome. There is so much outside of our control right now and worrying about it isn’t productive.
  • Despite the number of people who are confident they know what will happen to the stock market as a result of the election, the fact is that we just don’t know.
  • Market uncertainty is one of the reasons to have a plan for your money regardless of what is going on and automate it. Not only is it difficult to try and time the market, but you need to get it right twice, both when you buy and when you sell.
  • The FI community is about long-term thinking. It’s not about quarterly earnings or even five-year trends, but performance over multiple decades and the decisions that will help get you to the wealthiest point over that time period.
  • With that long-term thinking in mind and in a time of calm, it’s a great time to write down your investor policy statement. Having a plan for your investments, written down in an investor policy statement helps you to avoid being reactionary or make rash decisions.
  • In February, the Dow hit a high of 29,500. By March 20th, it had dropped 20-30% and many predicted it would go even lower. Defying the dire predictions, the Dow recovered 30-40% of its gains within a few months.
  • The problem with making market predictions is that there are far too many variables for you to account for and again, you have to get it right twice. Even the professions are wrong 50% of the time. What chance do you have of making your investment decisions around emotion enough to stay solvent or long-term or outperform the market over the long-term? Essentially no chance.
  • The highest likelihood of long-term financial success is to control the expenses on your investments. Low-cost index funds are going to be your best bet.
  • Following your investor policy statement and injecting new money when you can benefits you with dollar-cost averaging. Time in the market is much more powerful than timing the market.
  • ChooseFI listeners are creating space and making progress in their lives. Patty commuted to paying off debt within five years and just made her last payment, including more than $40,000 in credit card debt.
  • Joe replied to Brad’s email, The FI Weekly, Joe shared that he and his wife transferred his 403(b) from a high-fee broker to Vanguard and also started on their journey to earning travel rewards.
  • Teachers are primarily the ones using 403(b)s, most of which are laden with really high fees and very few options. ChooseFI plans to have an episode in the coming months with Dan Otter discussing doing better with your 403(b).
  • Crystal sent in a message saying that she had no idea about fees and was investing with Edward Jones. Her investments hadn’t done much over the last five years and now she’s educating herself, but the fees appear to be hidden.
  • Since the market has done so well over that last five years, the reasons why Crystal hasn’t made money are because she wasn’t invested in a strategy that allowed her to keep up with the market or she was getting crushed by the fees.
  • Brad says finding the expenses for his old company’s 401k options was relatively easy. Included in the table of investment options, one of the columns listed expenses. Other titles may be expense ratio or expense percentage. The numbers may range from 1.50 to 0.03.
  • Without a nicely organized table, you may need to look up the expense ratio by looking up the ticker symbol.
  • A low-cost index fund investment strategy is simple and not complex enough to require help from a professional. In contrast, a complex investment plan is probably costing you a lot of money.
  • With an actively-managed fund, a person, or team of people, are making decisions on what to buy and when to sell. Through the fees, you end up paying them for their time. And then the data shows that they aren’t even keeping up with the market.
  • The difference between expense ratios of 0.1% and 1.0% is tens of thousands to millions of dollars over time after compounding.
  • Brad ran through a scenario originally published to reviewing the impact fees have on an investment portfolio over a 40-year timeframe. The result was that a high expense ratio and advisor fees cut the potential net worth in half.
  • Even target-date funds may not get the returns you expect because they are too conservative for you.
  • It’s good to think about what you are invested in and how much it is costing you.
  • ChooseFI’s new website is now live! Check it out at or There are still some issues to be fixed, but if you are having trouble finding anything let us know and send us your feedback to [email protected].
  • The feedback on The Simple Startup classes has been overwhelmingly positive. Kids aged 10-18 have been getting off the video games and acquiring new skillsets to future-proof their lives.
  • Rob Phelan has figured out how to offer the course year-round and the next session starting January 18th is open for enrollment. Registration will be open until January 8th or until it sells out. Previous sessions have always sold out.
  • Register at ChooseFI/startup for The Simple Startup between now and November 15th and save $10. Use promo code “podcast” and save another 15%.
  • Share what you are doing and how your life has changed by replying to Brad’s email newsletter, The FI Weekly, and have the chance to win one of the books from ChooseFI Publishing. Sign up at
  • Christian Choosefi’d his view of the pandemic. He’s focused on the positive things, like spending more time with his family, time to exercise, eating healthier, and saving $4,500 this year.

Resources Mentioned In Today’s Conversation

Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. American Express is a ChooseFI advertiser. Disclosures.
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