I wish I could run 5 miles a day without the discomfort, the exertion, and the required hour of time. (Yeah, I’m slow). But there’s no such thing as “passive running.” You either run or you don’t.
The same goes for a healthy diet. And reading. And meditation. There’s no “Set it, and Forget It!” solution for these good habits. Sorry, Ron Popeil.
Modern technology, however, saves our lazy butts when it comes to investing. What Ron did for poultry, Vanguard and Fidelity and Schwab have done for stocks. You can set it and forget it.
If you aren’t automating your investing, you’re being a dummy. No offense. I’d say the same for texting and driving. Or huffing empty spray paint cans. It’s not personal. But those are dummy activities. I’m not saying you’re permanently afflicted with dumb (well…except for the huffing…that sticks.) You can change. In fact, I hope you do change. The only thing worse than a dummy is a permanent dummy.
To not automate your investing is to ignore Ron Popeil’s genius. You’re rotating a chicken with your right hand while holding a lighter underneath it with your left. Why?! Just buy the Ronco oven.
The cool thing about investment automation, though, is it doesn’t cost you 8 easy payments of $19.99. In fact, investment automation is completely free. And the benefits are far greater than crispy poultry skin.
I’ve put zero new thought into my Roth IRA and 401k over the past few years. And yet $541 goes into my Roth every month, invested into a Total Stock Market Index Fund (pssssst! Did you know IRA limits went up to $6500 per year in 2023?). And 10% of my paycheck goes into my 401k, invested into a 2050 Target Date Fund.
100% automatic. 100% free. No second thoughts.
It’s like running without the pain. Or dieting without the brussels sprouts. Or meditating without the 20 minutes of thinking, “I wonder if the walls in my bedroom are silently laughing at me right now?”
You get all the benefits of long-term investing, without the decision fatigue that comes from hundreds of investment decisions. Make one decision, then automate it.
Set it. Then forget it.
Yes, eventually you’ll need to course correct. To rebalance. To consider long-term financial planning. But if you’re in “saving mode,” don’t be a dummy. Be a chicken.
This blog post is not a paid advertisement for Ron Popeil. The author simply grew up in rural Upstate New York and didn’t have cable until his teenage years. Sometimes, Ronco infomercials were more appealing than Quilting With Madge on PBS.
No offense, Madge. You’re a true artist.
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