Staying Focused Amid the Noise

If having information leads to knowledge and, as Benjamin Franklin once said, "An investment in knowledge pays the best interest", where do you get your information? It can be very, very hard today to get the information you need without all the other "stuff" that often comes with it.

We are under a constant bombardment of information and most of it is, frankly, extraneous. But with the flow seeming to get stronger as time goes by, how do we limit the amount of information we take in? How do we ensure the information we consume is accurate and worthwhile?

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E+R=O

Sometimes as I'm thinking about subjects to cover each week I'll come across an article that seems to take the words right out of my mouth.

If I bang a drum about anything investment and planning-related it's that we need to focus intently on controlling what can be controlled while trying to not get too worked up about the rest. There can and will be (and are) any number of issues that could get in the way of achieving our goals, so how we react when confronted with these challenges often dictates outcomes, whether we realize it at the time or not.

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Useful Analogies

One of the things I like about my profession is that there are so many analogies to help explain it. Of the many I've heard over the years, one of the recurring themes is sailing. You're on your boat sailing toward your future, the captain of your own destiny. Hopefully you have a plan, a compass, a good navigator, and so on. I just read a pretty good one and you'll find it below.

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Seeing the Curve

Hitters in baseball love fastballs. Give them a steady diet of fastballs in the strike zone and good hitters are in heaven. But they can get into a rhythm and start looking for the next fastball. A common trick for crafty pitchers is to make hitters "think fastball" and then freeze the hitter with a nasty curveball that dives past, leaving them feeling surprised by the change of pace.

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That Nice Man on the Phone

Risk is everywhere. It's all around us every day. I'm not simply referring to market risk, but also risks to our identity and finances due to the convenience tradeoffs associated with just about everything being web-enabled these days.

But with all the cyber-related risks out there, it's interesting and scary to remind ourselves that most financial fraud is still person-to-person, not simply the result of crooks hacking into a large company's database. It's the person on the phone, on your doorstep, or even in a fancy office somewhere.

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Deficits and Tariffs

As I'm sure we're all aware, the stock market has been in full blown "react" mode during the past several weeks. While there have been a variety of issues fueling this volatility, the first was interest rates and the second is what some view as a brewing trade war with China. With all the rhetoric bouncing around it's hard not to feel nervous. Anytime the word "war" is used it's bound to ramp up the tension level anyway. So, what's one to do in the face of the current market anxiety? Simply put – stay calm.

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