What’s Your Financial Mantra?

If you don't have one, maybe it's time to get one.


Barbara Stewart
August 15, 2013

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  • Last summer, while on holiday in Provence, I attempted to hike Mont Ventoux. The trail is 15 km each way, 1500 meters vertical, and takes about three hours of solid climbing to reach the summit! Only 200 meters from the top, all the trees are gone and you are utterly exposed on all sides: I experienced a bad attack of vertigo. I froze in my tracks and then found myself clinging to the side of a large rock for what seemed like eternity. Eventually my husband was able to convince me I would be okay to hike back down. Fast forward one year and I decided to challenge myself to try again…and this time I made it to the summit! So what changed? When I approached the scary part of the mountain I started chanting to myself “All you have to do is stay on the path.” My fears were put aside and I was able to live in the moment. I barely even noticed the part of the trail where I had been so terrified before. Obviously a good mantra is a pretty powerful tool. Why not have a financial mantra to keep you focused on achieving your financial goals? The media and marketers have conditioned us to look at our stocks on a daily basis – or even minute by minute on the financial news channels with their tickers -- and be constantly worried about the crisis of the moment. In my view, a large part of investing success comes from taking personal responsibility for your values. Before starting an investment program, dig deep and ask yourself what is the money for? What are you trying to accomplish by investing? Are there particular types of businesses that resonate with you and others that you want to avoid? Are you investing primarily to preserve capital for the next generation? Be clear with yourself as to what really matters. Take the time to decide how you will measure your success – how will you know if your investment plan is working for you? If you think about it, investment plan could also be called your investment path: it’s a trail map that shows you where you are going, and how to get there. To avoid being vulnerable to mass marketing and yet another “hot” investment product, spend time discerning what your values are around money. And work with an individual or firm that can appreciate and reflect those values in your investment strategy. Find your financial mantra. Keep it simple. If you have a plan that makes sense to you and is consistent with your values, then “all you have to do is stay on the path!”