This past month was one of my the most challenging months in recent times.
24 days ago, I wrote a post questioning who I am, and decided to embrace my conclusion (instead of fighting myself).
Who am I?
I’m a writer, business owner, programmer, and truth seeker. I’m a friend, family man, fun lover, and athlete.
Instead of pushing against my nature, I’m living out these personas and attributes and have freed myself.
This month, I continually challenged myself to become better, to seek different opinions, and tackle complex ideas for this blog.
We have covered a lot of ground in this series here in July 2018. We’ve talked about how the economy and environment are intimately related, talked about money, talked about economic systems, banking, stocks, and investing.
The weekend before starting into this series, I felt a sickness in my stomach thinking about some of the ideas and thoughts I wanted to discuss here on the blog.
3 weeks later, I’m feeling much better and at peace with my thoughts. I’ve covered everything I wanted to cover and want to use this post to recap my thoughts and conclude on this wide-ranging series.
In this post, I want to cover one last topic on my alternative personal finance thoughts, and recap the month of our July blog series here on The Mastermind Within.
Challenge is Good for Critical Thinking
Something that I’ve been battling recently is confirmation bias. I form a view and opinion on a certain topic, and then in my research, I start to find things which line up with my view, and disregard things which don’t line up with my view.
Part of being a truth seeker is understanding the existence of this bias and making changes in your thought process to make sure you are exposing yourself to those alternative thoughts and opinions.
To speak a little bit more specifically to give you a taste of what I’m talking about, let’s consider politics for a second.
It’s Okay to Be For or Against Certain Thoughts of a Group You Identify With
Something I do not personally like is the thought of big institutions running the show (big institutions meaning big government or big industry).
Growing up, I was exposed to conservative thought and since my dad was a business owner, they influenced my thoughts to lean to the right.
While I grew up as a conservative, I’m now somewhere in the middle, with thoughts on both sides of the political spectrum.
First, this is perfectly okay. Just because I classify as “X” doesn’t mean I have to agree or stand with everything people who classify with “X” support.
Second, if I want to be well informed and a critical thinker, I need to view opinions on both sides of the aisle and be open to changing and challenging my mindset.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed a tendency of mine is to disregard certain news channels and websites (CNN, MSNBC, and even Fox News, for example), and favor others (Zero Hedge and other other smaller niche sites).
With this said, I still force myself to tune in once in a while to try to understand the points of the other side. Seeking to understand the other side will help me understand more fully the situation and challenge my thoughts to either confirm or disconfirm them as truth.
Learning about Investing, Economics and Money from a Different Perspective
What started out as a lesson on biology and physics, morphed into a history lesson, and then finally a discussion on investing and the markets.
It was one of the most difficult months for me because my thoughts and opinion on what I was reading about were constantly changing.
When I started learning about personal finance and building wealth, I was told to invest in the stock market, leverage compounding for the future, and save as much as you can early to ensure you will have enough in the future.
The principles (saving, compounding, and investing assets which will grow) I still agree with. However, my path and perspective on the methods to get there needed challenge. I needed to more fully dive into the markets and economic situation at hand to flesh out the truth.
I’ve found peace with these thoughts, but that doesn’t mean my work is done (nor does it mean that this opinion cannot be changed).
The world isn’t just black and white – it is a dynamic place. All people have a different perspective on the world, and because of this, the complexity cannot just be a yes or no answer.
Thinking critically is my solution to this scenario, but it’s more than just a one time exercise. What I mean is I’m going to constantly be looking for the next piece of information to update my thoughts and opinions.
That’s what a truth seeker does.
I’d Ask You Take Away the Following From These Posts…
This month, I wrote posts about how the economy and environment are intimately related, talked about money, talked about economic systems, banking, stocks, and investing.
It was quite the month – I wrote over 20,000 words in this series (with multiple posts crossing the 3,000 word mark).
Here are all of the posts here:
- The Earth is a Closed System
- What is Money?
- Capitalism, Marxist Thought, Post Capitalism: An Overview of Economic Systems
- An Easy to Understand Guide to Banking for Non-Bankers
- What Does it Actually Mean to Invest in Stocks?
- Check Your Investing Privilege
- All Assets are Worth Considering (and Owning) for Financial Success
- The Problem with Index Fund Investing
- Why the Stock Market Cannot Always Go Up
While writing these posts, I tried to stay positive and present these situations in a balanced way. What started off as a deep concern for stock market investors turned into a more balanced approach.
While a few posts targeted stock and equity investing in particular, I still believe it has a place in everyone’s portfolio.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t hit everything that I wanted to, but I still was able to cover a lot. A few things that I wish I could’ve talked further about is quantitative easing, corporate buybacks, and why wonky monetary policy doesn’t lead to productivity and true returns… but those are a discussion for another day.
Takeaways for you:
At the end of the day, there are a few main takeaways I want you to consider for your life:
- Realize things can be different than they initially appear. We all come from different perspectives, experiences, and have different biases and opinions. I’m not an expert and could be completely wrong here. At the end of the day though, I’m challenging myself and hopefully challenging you.
- Challenge yourself on your portfolio and asset allocation. While 90-100% stocks might seem to make sense early in your investing career, know there are other possibilities. Unpredictable stuff happens all the time – just because the United States is a superpower today, doesn’t mean it will be in 15-30 years when it’s time to retire. I’d just ask that the entirely optimistic view of 7-10% compounding be challenged.
- It’s ALWAYS better to be early, rather than late. What do I mean by this? True financial independence is being okay in any situation that could possibly hit. In a crisis, many correlations go to 1, meaning one domino could make the whole system suffer. Preparing financially, but also mentally and physically, will allow you much more flexibility in case of a rough patch.
I really appreciate some of the great comments I received from Full Time Finance, and a number of other bloggers. It was a fun month, and I’m excited to see what happens in the future.
I may be wrong, or maybe I’ll be right. Who knows! In either case, I hope I’m prepared and ready to navigate whatever scenario hits.
P.S. If you’d like to challenge my thoughts and opinions, I am all for it 🙂 If you’d like to discuss it on my podcast, I think that would be awesome, and I’m always open to new guests and perspectives. I try to live my life without ego (which is very tough but doable with work), and am always curious and looking to improve my view on the world for the better!