I could have maxed out my 401(K) investment this year. All I had to do was set my contribution rate to 25%, but I chose not to. The amount is not the drawback for me, as I could easily afford to invest the full amount and have money left over in my bank account. When you do the math between 25% and 15%, the difference between net worth contribution, assuming a 25% tax rate, is approximately $500 less than I’d have if I decided to invest the full amount. But I’m not going to do it.
I need to listen to myself
There are too many aspects of a 401K that don’t make sense to me. (A Roth 401K might better, but my company does not currently offer one) The key problem liquidity. I have to wait until I’m 60 before I take any money out of it. Otherwise, I’ll be penalized and hit with tax penalties, which in this economy, could easily wipe out my investment gains.
I value liquidity as a part of my net worth. The fact that I can liquidate fully without any type of tax deferred restrictions. I also value the risk level: the fact that the nominal value of my cash investment will never decrease is again, great in this economy.
One of my most tangible goals in life is to buy a house. The more cash and liquid assets I save up for a down payment, the less time I’ll spend in debt to a major bank. I can also prepay my student tuition if I choose to go to business school.
Additionally, I simply don’t want to have to wait until I’m 60 before I can enjoy the fruits of my investment. Given my health conditions, I’m not even sure I’ll make it to 60. Even if I do make it to that age, my health is likely to be in such bad shape that I’ll be unable to fully experience it.
I need to listen to my own advice
I invest way too much in international funds. I did it simply because it was sexy investment at the time and it now represents too large a percentage of my portfolio. I don’t have enough debt in my portfolio and I haven’t balanced it since I opened it (investing my current age as the percentage of bonds).
Yes, I tried timing the market. Yes, I chased high returns using the very unique strategy of picking funds at the top of a list. (Oh boy, with at strategy like that, I must’ve outsmarted Wall Street by now) Some days I feel I am my very own Jim Cramer.
But I’m getting better. By the end of the year, I’ll have a proper asset allocation. I’ll put my investing on auto-pilot. The less I do, the less people I listen to, the less emotion I allow into the process, the better off I will be. I just have to listen to my own advice.
Gambling is supposed to be EXCITING. Investing is supposed to be BORING. If I get the itch, I’m better off taking a trip to Vegas than gambling my future on emotion based market timing strategies.