How to Tune Out FOMO When Investing
Screening FOMO constantly? You're normal. However, you might want to consider taking it to the next level: Ignoring it completely.
Gee, it's hard to turn the other way when Mark Cuban says something about Dogecoin. Or, heck, your ears might perk up when your brother-in-law purchases a rental property and says, "You gotta get in the real estate game!"
Did you invest in GameStop or AMC earlier this year when your neighbor bragged that he was up 120%?
Do you feel that familiar restless feeling that crops up whenever you hear about someone doing well in a particular stock or business venture? You're experiencing fear of missing out (FOMO).
And you know what? It's completely normal. I had to peel myself away from the GameStop/AMC/other stock craze earlier this year, too.
Let's take a look at one of my favorite FOMO stories and how to resist FOMO when investing.
A Lesson from Tulip Mania
I live in a bonafide Dutch town, with real Dutch storefronts and tulips that dot every main street in the spring. That's why I take a special interest in the tulip mania that occurred in the 1600s in the Netherlands. Have you ever heard this story? If not, it's a gem.
So, the tulip is insanely popular in the Netherlands, if you didn't already know.
In the 1620s, a single tulip bulb cost 1,000 Dutch florins. In just 10 years, the price of tulip bulbs continued to climb. By late 1636, tulip bulbs sold for 15,000 florins.
Tulips traded on stock exchanges and tulip bulbs even became one of the earliest uses of futures contracts. People would trade tulip bulbs for just about everything — even land!
Even if you haven't heard the story, you know what's coming: The bubble burst. Tulip traders began to sell in 1637 and panic ensued. Prices crashed and thousands of individuals suffered financial ruin.
All because people watched their friends, family and neighbors buy tulips.
How to Banish FOMO
How to get rid of FOMO? Easy! Just remember tulip mania. Just kidding. It's not that easy, particularly with instant access to umpteen million daily trading and stock tips, plus expert advice.
Screen Out Hot Tips
It's really hard to keep hot tips from invading your phone, your email and away from the influences of your family members and friends. Can you even count the number of tweets you get from investment websites, industry experts and TV shows? Plus, your hotshot colleague in the cubicle next to yours never shuts up about his latest stock picks.
Remember, no stock is a guaranteed winner, and buying on a hot tip (without consideration for your risk tolerance and goals) is like gambling. Furthermore, doing so can lead to losses you can't afford.
Most of the time, by the time you've heard about it, the good stuff that happens with a particular stock has already happened — Wall Street has already moved on. (The media are always the last to know.)
Just don't buy based on a hot tip. Period.
Get Back to Investing Fundamentals
Time to get back to basics. What are you investing for? Retirement? College for your kiddo? In short order, get back to the basics of understanding the risks you're taking, carefully vetting companies and checking for high fees.
Finally, create an investment plan and stick to it. Having a plan will allow you to reach your goals over your chosen investment time period.
How do you do it?
- Step 1: Decide on your goals. Whether you want to save to open up an emu farm in six months or save for retirement, what do your goals look like?
- Step 2: Define your time horizon. How long will it take you to meet those goals? Do you have a time horizon of 30 years? Ten years? Whatever your timeframe, make sure your goals fit your timeline.
- Step 3: Decide how comfy you feel with risk. Get a sense of what risk means to you. Whether you gravitate toward an all-stock portfolio (more risky) or like to mix it up with a few bonds (less risky), you might feel differently depending on your age. The more time you have to recover from the downturns in the stock market, the better off you'll be if you open yourself up to a riskier portfolio.
- Step 4: Meet your goals. Diversify your portfolio across several asset classes, keep tabs on your investments, rebalance when necessary and you're good to go.
Stick to Your Long-Term Goals
Stick to your long-term goals. Keep them front and center. Sometimes FOMO rears its head because you get bored with your plan and need some excitement in your life.
Put this looming threat at the forefront of your mind: The biggest mistake you could make is stopping a massive wealth-building portfolio in favor of chasing hot stock tips, all because you're tired of seeing small gains over time.
Warren Buffett said that when done correctly, investing should look a lot like growing a giant oak tree. In fact, the quote is so good that it bears repeating. The Oracle of Omaha said, "Someone is sitting in the shade of an oak tree today because someone did the boring work of planting and taking care of it decades ago."
Constantly remind yourself of what you are working toward. Instead of listening to your cube mate harangue you about the latest way to quadruple your money in a month, consider income generation that will last through retirement and beyond.
Finally, remind yourself that investing very intentionally will create major excitement later on. When you have a $2 million portfolio upon retirement, you'll thank yourself later. (And you probably won't be thanking your cubemate.)
Tell FOMO to Hit the Road
When you look back on it, the tulip craze seems laughable. Tulips, of all things!
However, what will our progeny think of Dogecoin 100 years from now? Will they laugh at us and say, "Dogecoin, of all things!" or not?
FOMO can turn you into a dog chasing a bunny, but you don't have to let it happen to you.