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Sitcom Investing

A fickle stock market encourages good-humored mockery.

Recently, as I watched the premiere of a sitcom, an obvious omission breached television etiquette. Silence followed every exaggerated comedic set-up. There was no laugh track. Where were the premeditated giggles from the show's "audience?" At last, the viewer determines the funny moment.

It then occurred to me, the writers of this new show adopted an aspect used by investment news programs.

I will be the first to admit, in addition to the miscellaneous printed and electronic financial information, the television provides an abundance of supplemental financial news. However, the shows often leave me asking, "What's missing?" In addition, the shows may very well leave viewers with the ultimate responsibility, which segment is entertainment and which is practical advice.

Perhaps you may recognize one of the canned statements below that investment show gurus continuously utter. Although each may be applicable (and in may cases vital to successful financial planning), notice the missing "laugh tracks."

How many times have you heard "Invest For the Long Term?" The analyst may be leaving out "because I hope you forget my last appearance and the short term disaster I have caused for the viewers who actually acted on my recommendation." Each investor's long-term outlook is somewhat different for the other's and you should always review the guests' recommendations with caution. What is his or her reasoning for such revelation?

"Buy and Hold." The missing part: "because I have no idea of an exit strategy to recommend." True enough, the more successful investors are those who invest according to a well-planned strategy and stick to it. They generally hold onto their winners. There are, however, times that will dictate an exit strategy.

Finally, there's "Use Asset Allocation." The missing part: "because I cannot tell you which asset historically does better in this particular market environment." There are many ways to accomplish diversification in your portfolio and it does not always have to revolve around the division of stocks, bonds, and cash. Depending on your particular objectives, time horizons, and risks, an appropriate allocation may be derived from the use of just one type of asset. Either way, there are no guarantees when you place your money in the stock market and it is best to remind yourself of the risks of each investment. Try including real estate, collectibles and insurance products in your general financial plan.

We can all watch the appearance investment gurus make on financial shows. Perhaps we can include light-hearted follow-up statements as if we were watching a Rocky Horror film. We often enjoy the amusement provided by television personalities, however, it is important to review your investments regularly. Always examine your motive behind each buy and sell.

In actuality, your financial future is no laughing matter and should be guided with thorough commentary. Television shows come and go; your finances may one day be a legacy.

Wardlaw's belief is that familiar life elements best illustrate practical investment strategies; not typical investment jargon. With that philosophy, the author assists financial planners/advisors, brokerage firms, periodicals, and other investment information syndicates create informative and entertaining articles. For comments and questions, please contact the author at tools2invest@yahoo.com

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