I’ve seen this quote used quite often in reference to investing. Every time I think about where my assets might be if I had put a little more time into building a portfolio in my twenties, a doleful little sigh slips out. With two major market crashes since I graduated college, surely there were bargains out there to be had that I may not see again in my lifetime.
Or maybe I will. Maybe another crash is just around the corner. Who knows? The point is not what I think the market will do tomorrow. After all, I’ve seen research showing that even the hot shot money managers who spend all day thinking about these sorts of things don’t really know either.
The point is that the first step I took towards building a wealth plan was to examine my own past mistakes. Hiding in those mistakes were a lot of great lessons that I could use to make better future decisions.
What I took away from that examination was a lesson about the power of choice. Part of what led me to bury my head in the sand for so many years when it came to personal finance was fear of making the wrong choice. So instead I did nothing, opening up a checking account and looking the other way. Though it didn’t feel like it at the time, doing nothing was actually a choice. And had I made a different choice, a more active choice, I might be in a different situation today.
But I didn’t. So that’s when I remind myself that the second best time to start investing is today. My lesson learned: Make active choices. Design my financial future rather than letting it happen by default. I’m no less busy than I was in my twenties, but now I’m prioritizing financial planning, squeezing the research in the margins of the rest of my life.
If you’re interested in reflecting on your own financial past, send me a note and I’ll send you the sheet I created to take stock.