I’ve been receiving lots of emails from people who have read Money for Something and are excited to report that their new personal investment programs are underway. To these folks I say, “Congratulations! You’re on your way!”
Some have even setup auto-updating Google Spreadsheets, allowing them to track their investment balance with up-to-the-minute accuracy!
To those folks I say, “That might not be such a great idea.”
Although a well-structured investment portfolio should, over the long-run, increase in value, it will, on a day-by-day basis, likely go up or down with about the same probability—with “up” being slightly more likely.
The new field of behavioral psychology tells us that we humans tend to feel more pain when we experience a loss, than pleasure when we experience a gain. The consequence is that if you check your portfolio on a daily basis you will, cumulatively over the course of a year, likely feel more pain than pleasure. And that certainly doesn’t help in achieving the real objective — sticking with your investment plan over the long-run.
So, what’s a good frequency to check your portfolio? Personally, I’d love to have the discipline to check mine only once per quarter. But that’s hard to do, and so I’m pretty happy if I can limit myself to once per month.