Featured entries from our Journal

Details Are Part of Our Difference

Podcast Episode – Meir Statman

With the Recent Events in Ukraine, Should I Make Changes to My Portfolio?

Embracing the Evidence at Anheuser-Busch – Mid 1980s

529 Best Practices

Author: PJ McDaniel

GOAL Gameplan

There are about 100 days left in 2019.

Pools are closing. Store clerks are stocking Halloween candy along their aisles. As the amount of daylight dwindles, so too does the time we have to accomplish the goals we set for 2019.

Can you guess when there is a peak in goal setting? You got it — January. That’s when New Year’s resolutions are hot and people are brimming with confidence about the “new them” they plan to build. But the reality is that some studies suggest only 8% of Americans actualize their New Year’s resolutions.

Disappointing? Yes. Hopeless? Not at all.

Whether you want to lose weight, build wealth, read more, or watch less TV, it’s not too late to get back on track. As we head down the home stretch of 2019, I want to share three simple ideas that can reignite the energy you had during the beginning of the year and put the odds of achieving your goal in your favor.

 

  1. Define Your “Why” 

It’s incredibly difficult to justify the hard work required to achieve goals without an underlying purpose. Simply saying “I want to do X” will almost always fizzle out after a few weeks. 

Instead, tell yourself, I need to do this for/because [insert person or cause]. This will carry you through the pits and valleys along the way.

If you want a deeper dive into the importance of defining your “why,” Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why is a must-read. You can also check out his wildly popular TED Talk.

 

  1. Bombard Yourself With Reminders

Post-It notes might be obsolete, but they’re one of the most useful tools to keep you focused on your goals. Write your goals on them and stick them on your bathroom mirror. Every morning when you brush your teeth, stare at them and think about what steps you can take that day to accomplish them. 

Of course, this isn’t the only way to keep your goals top of mind. You can change your phone’s screensaver, set a daily reminder on your phone, or even download an app like Habitica. The options are endless, but your time isn’t.

 

  1. Make a Bet.

Let’s say you want to lose ten pounds by the end of the year. Find someone who will hold you accountable and say, “If I don’t lose ten pounds by December 31, I owe you $500 (or whatever amount you choose.) 

Economist Dean Karlan found that the success rate of goal achievement with nothing at stake is a mere 33.5%. However, when someone puts money on the line, that success rate jumps to 72.8%.

100 days. 2,400 hours. That’s more than enough time to make a dent in whatever goal you have (or had) your eyes set on. Now, get to work. We’ll check back with you in December.

Don’t Be a Snowplow Parent

There is a new term we are hyper-focused on this month at Hill Investment Group – “snowplow parent.” The phrase refers to a parent who clears every obstacle out of their child’s way, preventing the youngster from developing the skills they will need later in life.

In episode 7 of the Take the Long View with Matt Hall podcast, experienced wealth counselor and financial therapist, Marilyn Wechter says “If you think about spoiled, what you’re talking about is kids who haven’t had the opportunity to figure out how to solve problems on their own and haven’t had the opportunity to figure out how to get something that they really want other than passively being given to.”

Marilyn and Matt Hall discussed the 4 primary things spoiled kids have in common.

  1. Few chores or responsibilities
  2. Not many rules to govern behavior or schedules
  3. Parents and others lavish them with time and assistance
  4. A plethora of material possessions

So, if we know what not to do, what’s the solution? Marilyn suggests we should nurture curiosity, patience, thrift, generosity, perseverance, modesty, and perspective.

That’s a lot to tackle, especially because today you can buy just about anything from your phone and POOF, it shows up at your door the next day.  How do you teach kids the value of money when your kids rarely see you hand a physical dollar to a live human in exchange for a good or service? Are the days of stashing wrinkled dollars and loose change in a piggy bank over?

In our house, once you turn 8, which is the age of my oldest son Jack, you began to earn an allowance on a weekly basis. It has been interesting to see how Jack chooses to spend or save his allowance. At first, he bought a few Pokémon cards on Amazon with our help.  In an effort to get him to realize everything does not come in a cardboard box a few days after you order it online, we went to a physical store.  We chose to visit one of his favorite spots, the store where everything is a dollar – I mean everything!  Jack chose his items and when he had to hand over his 4 hard-earned dollars to the cashier in exchange for a few cheap toys, he began to learn the value of money.  Shortly after that trip to The Dollar Store and some careful thought, Jack realized that the toys he bought would likely break or become less interesting within just a few days, so he’s now committed to saving his allowance.  He is learning if he puts his money in a bank, the bank actually pays HIM (very, very little these days) to keep his cash with them. That concept was mind-blowing for an 8-year-old. He asks me each week how much money he has in the bank and is thrilled to watch it grow. I can’t wait to show him the power of investing and the valuable work we do at Hill Investment Group!

Talking how to take the long view (not snowplowing) is vital at an early age, but as we hear in the podcast, it is never too late to start!

From Worst to First: Blues Prove the Power of Taking the Long View

On January 2nd, 2019 the St. Louis Blues hit rock bottom. After 37 games, they had the worst record and the fewest points in the NHL. The team that was predicted to be a playoff contender couldn’t even manage to tally three wins in a row. To outsiders looking in, the team looked like a bunch of underachievers who cost their head coach his job and let their city down—again.

But the Blues saw things differently.

For them, this was the beginning of a long, steady climb to fulfill their potential. By midseason, the Blues finally began to gel with their interim coach, Craig Berube, while rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington instilled new life into the locker room. When the regular season came to a close, the Blues had achieved the improbable, winning 30 of their final 45 games to earn a playoff berth.

As the world witnessed, the Blues carried this momentum through the playoffs on their way to being crowned Stanley Cup champions for the first time ever. Throughout the history of professional sports (NHL, NBA, MLB, and NFL), this was one of the most dramatic turnarounds, with the Blues being the farthest into a season with the worst record, yet managing to win a title.

Cinderella stories like this don’t happen by accident—especially in sports. To the naked eye, they’re miracles. But if we peek behind the curtain, we see that these radical transformations are simply the byproduct of discipline and patience. At Hill Investment Group, we call this Taking the Long View. The Blues may not have used this specific mantra, but they embodied it.

Sports—especially hockey—are complex. No player nor coach has the mental capacity to micromanage every variable during an entire season, let alone a single game. There are too many unpredictable elements. Over the course of eight months, the randomness adds up into an impossibly large cognitive load. The only sustainable strategy is for the team to elevate their gaze and see the bigger picture, to trust the process.

Financial markets, just like the St. Louis Blues 2018-19 NHL season, have their ups and downs. Many investors live in a seesaw world (just think back to December of 2018) of short-term thrills and panics. But as prudent investors—and NHL players—will tell you, the fruits of Taking the Long View are sweet.

Baby Billy Ackerman in Blues Gear
Featured entries from our Journal

Details Are Part of Our Difference

Podcast Episode – Meir Statman

With the Recent Events in Ukraine, Should I Make Changes to My Portfolio?

Embracing the Evidence at Anheuser-Busch – Mid 1980s

529 Best Practices

Hill Investment Group