Just Let Go

Even the pursuit of letting go will help.

I try to follow varied segments of the Twittersphere (baseball card Twitter is the most underrated Twitter) to try to get exposure to many different learning opportunities as possible but I probably have a ways to go in terms of getting more out of it. @joshua_becker is someone I follow for quality of life ideas. His big things are minimalism, clearing out clutter and more importantly the emotional and quality of life benefits of having less. Becker curates (may not be the best word) a site called nosidebar.com and I found an listy article titled 50 Simple Thing You Need To Hear that was fun to read, had great ideas and may have investing implications.

  1. Instead of working so hard to make ends meet, work on having fewer ends.
  1. You might get 85 years on this planet—don’t spend 65 paying off a lifestyle you can’t afford.

Obviously, those are both about living below your means. A simpler life invariably means having less stuff and spending less money on new stuff. If my wife and I have a lot of stuff it is tools and building materials. We don't have a lot of clothes but we could probably scale back at a least a little but to give an idea, I have two suits and that is really one too many. I'm not sure what Becker's take would be but if you are at least aware of having stuff and making efforts to let go and spend less then if nothing else that is progress toward simplicity and being happier. Spending less on stuff makes it easier to save more when you're still working and spend less when you're retired which makes life better.

  1. My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do.

I don't agree with this as it's written. Nassim Taleb writes about his belief in this idea too. If you look, you will find estimates of how much of their time advisors spend trying to bring in new clients, maybe as much as 70% of their time. I broached this a few months ago, I don't spend any real time on this. A couple of times a year someone will inquire, I meet with them of course and sometimes they come on board and sometimes not. Not spending time on sales frees up time for tending to the portfolio and other things, it makes for a more rounded life in my opinion, in my case it allows me to time for my fire department activities. While that is fun of course, I also get the chance to solve problems that although different from managing money help with solving day job challenges all the same. In short, I believe my volunteer endeavor makes me better at my day job. I view it as having let go of needing to try to grow my business to the sky.

If you are managing your own portfolio you might want less to do. Clearly owning three index funds will result in less to do than owning 40 individual stocks. If you take the time to manage your portfolio using a diversified slate of individual stocks there is no guarantee that you will get better returns. Some years you probably would and some years you wouldn't. A more complicated portfolio could easily be best for you if you are interested in managing volatility, an income strategy or sequence of return risk and hopefully you would be interested enough to do some reading and understand what to do. You very well could achieve the outcomes you're looking for with no guarantee or even expectation of outperforming on a nominal basis. I would say you need to let go of worrying about always outperforming because no one can. You can probably have better luck with managing volatility and sequence of return risk (asset allocation).

  1. Simple living doesn’t solve all my problems, it just removes distractions.

If any of this interests you then you've read about the benefits of getting out into nature regularly and unplugging from electronics. The idea is that you can empty your mind (remove distractions) which has a therapeutic effect. I believe in this and live it, we've lived in the woods for more than half my adult life and are avid hikers. However I do find it very difficult to empty out my head when we are hiking. I am able to enjoy the outdoors but I think about plenty of things too. Awhile back I quoted @billyredhorse from Twitter who said no one's ever depressed when they're deadlifting (or words to that effect). Deadlifitng if the first thing I do in my workout and it allows my brain to empty out. Self-improvement Twitter loves deadlifting and talks often about the physical and emotional benefits of the exercise and I have to agree. The nature of the movement requires that you just focus on what you're doing. There was no conscious effort to let go of my thoughts while doing it, it just happens.

  1. The greatest thing about a simple life is having one.

Can anyone know whether their life is truly simple? I believe in the pursuit, a simple life is a happier and more fulfilling life. My life is simpler than it could be but who knows whether it is actually simple. Letting go of these things, and others, has a very good chance of placing less of a burden on investment portfolios which then in turn might mean less risk needing to be taken. The benefits of that outcome would be immense.

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