My Crush on Kathy and What It Means re Your Section 401(k) Account

There was a girl. Her name was Kathy. I thought she was fine. She was perfect for me. I was perfect for her. It all clicked.

Except Kathy didn’t seem to get it. This puzzled me greatly. And she would not say why. This drove me crazy.

The full truth is, she did tell me. She once said: “There will someday be a girl who will appreciate your intensity.” This is what is known among clear-thinking people everywhere as a “clue.”

I didn’t hear the words at the time. I have this amazing filter thing in my brain that doesn’t let in words that cut like a knife. I heard the words well enough to recall them to mind today, when they make me laugh. But for so long as those words caused more pain than I could handle — No words! It’s like a magic trick.

Your Section 401(k) account! I didn’t forget. I’m getting to that!

There is a fellow named Robert Shiller who has a good job at Yale University who was kind enough to tell us back in 1996 that those going with high stock allocations were going to regret it down the road a piece and that we were on our way to an economic crisis.

He’s mean! Like that Kathy individual. Except — Kathy wasn’t really being mean, was she? She was being as kind as she possibly could be, given the circumstances in which she found herself. And so was our friend Robert Shiller.

We continue to ignore what this Shiller fellow says because it still cuts like a knife to let in the thought that we brought this economic crisis on ourselves. It wasn’t the Democrats who did it. It wasn’t the Republicans who did it. It wasn’t even that darn deficit. Heck! It wasn’t even that mysterious Economy thing people are always blaming for the crisis.

It was us! We are guilty!

Now —

We are trying. I have been talking about what this Shiller fellow has to say for a good long time now. It used to be that no respectable people would say hello to me. Now they say hello. They don’t shake my hand. But they offer a distant “hello.” Things are moving in the right direction.

People say I push too hard. Perhaps.

But here’s the thing. Say that I kept hanging around Kathy for years, wishing and hoping and praying and scheming. There would come a time when she would come down harder than she did with the Clue thing. Not because she’s mean. Because she likes me. Because she wants me to act on the clue.

I don’t want people just to acknowledge that Shiller is a smart fellow who wrote a fine book and then go back to following the same old strategies they were following before he came on the scene. I want them to take what he says seriously. I want them to explore implications of what he says. I want them to change their asset allocations.

There are times when it is better to feel a little pain in the present than to feel a lot of pain in the future.

If Kathy were to see these words, she would say “Oh, that’s Rob alright. That’s the same guy.” Heaven help us all!

Written by Rob Bennett

Rob Bennett’s A Rich Life blog aims to put the “personal” back into “personal finance” — he focuses on the role played by emotion in saving and investing decisions.

2 Responses to My Crush on Kathy and What It Means re Your Section 401(k) Account

  1. I guess the description interesting fits. If buy and hold investing caused this, what type of investing do you suggest?

  2. I guess the description interesting fits

    Thanks, Lance. I think!

    If buy and hold investing caused this, what type of investing do you suggest?

    I favor Valuation-Informed Indexing, Lance. VII is just like Buy-and-Hold with one big exception. The VII investor changes his stock allocation in response to big price swings. We buy stocks the way we buy everything else — we buy more when they are on sale and less when they are insanely overpriced. The academic research shows that VII investors obtain FAR higher returns than Buy-and-Holders at GREATLY reduced risk (risk is reduced by 80 percent). This has been so for the entire 140 years for which we have records of stock price changes.

    Thanks for stopping by to share your thoughts, Lance. I can tell that you are skeptical. I hope you will give the idea some thought. I of course wish you the best of luck with whatever investing strategies you elect to pursue in any event. Take care.

    Rob

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