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New Year's Investing Resolutions

Each New Year brings the opportunity for a fresh start. Among the traditional New Year's resolutions are to lose weight, get in shape and quit smoking. The following are my suggestions for resolutions for investors.
  1. If you don't have a financial plan, the very first thing you should do is write one and sign it.
  2. Make sure your investment plan doesn't take more risk than you have the ability, willingness or need to take.
  3. Make managing the portfolio a year-round job, checking for rebalancing and tax-loss harvesting opportunities on at least a quarterly basis.
  4. If you're working with an advisor who doesn't provide a fiduciary standard of care, fire him/her and hire one that does.
  5. Separate the services of financial advisor, money managers, custodian and trustee.
  6. Don't invest in any security unless you fully understand all the risks.
  7. Avoid all actively managed funds and repeat to yourself "past performance is not a predictor of future performance."
  8. Don't stretch for yield. The main role of the fixed income portion of the portfolio is to reduce portfolio risk to an acceptable level.
  9. Ignore all "expert" forecasts, recognizing that they have no value.
  10. Don't buy any individual stocks, sector funds or country funds, as that has more to do with speculating than investing.
  11. Keep a diary of your predictions and review them every year.
  12. Adhere to your plan, regardless of what the market does.
  13. If you watch CNBC, make sure the mute button is on.