Don’t Make These Three Investing Mistakes

|August 8, 2023
Money down to the drain

There are some great benefits to being a bit dim.

We should know.

We’ve done some dimwitted things.

Take our flock of sheep, for instance. Readers seem to love to hear our tales of woe related to them. And there’s no shortage of those tales.

But readers really like the stories that turn into tales of money and how to make more of it.

This story certainly does that.

We’re not very “woke” on the farm. Despite so many modern calls to the contrary, we keep our sheep divided – the girls on one side of the property, the boys on the other.

No politics about it. Just one quick glance and some easy sorting.

It’s better that way. But it does create twice as much work.


For instance, we have to water the sheep every day…

For the last few weeks, the girls have been drinking a lot of water. Their 40-gallon tank has been nearly dry each night. The boys, meanwhile, have been drinking just a few gallons.

We wondered whether something was wrong. Why were half the sheep drinking so much water? Were they sick? Should the boys be drinking more?

Then, over the weekend, we went to fill the tank once again… and our feet got wet. The ground all around the tank was soggy and muddy.

We dropped our jaw and scratched our head, as the dim tend to do.

There was no rain. We didn’t spill. And the sheep aren’t that sloppy.

We scratched our head some more and bent over for a closer look. The tank is made of thick rubber. There’s no way it could leak.

And yet… there it was. A small, sharp rock had punctured the bottom of the tank. As we pulled the leaker off the ground, the hole got even larger.

Now the tank can’t even hold water.

We would have saved ourselves a lot of energy and a lot of water if we had just scratched our head a bit sooner.

The sheep were fine.

It was the dull fella in charge of them who got things wrong.

A Hole in Your Bucket

With that, we turn to the head-scratchers in the world of money. We may not be the world’s sharpest sheepherder, but when it comes to money and making more of it, we know a thing or two.

When it comes to money, there are lots of reasons to scratch our head… and lots of ways to miss the leaks coming from our bucket.

Here are the three most common mistakes.

The first is exactly what we did with our sheep. We assumed things were fine. We knew something didn’t feel right… but we never bothered to bend over and look for the leak.

This is the danger of a “set it and forget it” mindset. Too many folks create a “properly diversified” portfolio and then walk away.

When they do, they walk away from their chance of ever busting loose from the chains of mediocrity.

Markets evolve. Trends change. The Fed prints trillions of dollars.

You know the game.

If we invested today in the same way we did two years ago (let alone two decades ago), the leaks in our bucket would be draining us dry.

At the very least, we must revisit our budgeting and investing strategy once each year. Don’t just rebalance and move on. Look for leaks. Where is money leaking? How can you fix it? What’s not working as well as you thought it would?

Fixing a small leak early on is easy. Refilling your trough when it’s gone dry is not.

While you’re at it, make sure your money is where it will be treated best. The failure to do this is the second major mistake most investors make.

They fail to look at their wealth through the lens of the tax code.

If you have assets that produce a lot of income, move your “buy and pray” stocks to a taxable account and save your IRA for your income producers. If you’ve got a college fund for a kid or grandkid… make sure it’s in a 529 plan. Don’t lock your money into a lousy-paying certificate of deposit when a tax-free municipal bond may earn you a whole bunch more without much extra risk.

There are dozens of ways your tax strategy can drain you dry. Fortunately, most leaks are easy to fix.

And if you really want to make your wealth-generating strategy leakproof, avoid this next devastating mistake.

It’s a killer.

When we go to conferences or speak to local groups, we often ask folks about the last book on investing they read.

The blank stares and chin-scratching tell the tale.

Far too many folks fail to educate themselves about investing. They know the basics – the nuts and bolts of stocks, bonds and options – and wrongly believe they can fend for themselves.

But Wall Street is a dynamic beast that loves to chew on the heads of the uninformed.

The rules of today will not be the rules of tomorrow.

To truly get ahead, we must have a nuanced vision of the opportunities within the market. We must think differently from the crowd. And we must be well-informed on the latest moneymaking trends.

If you’re serious about getting rich, read at least one investing-related book each quarter. Better yet, read one a month.

It’s the easiest and most effective way to find out whether your bucket is leaking.

We hate to say it… but most people’s are.

Don’t be like us and wait until your toes get wet. Plug the leak before it makes a mess.

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