Checking Your Long-Term Investments Every Day – A Horrifically-Bad Habit

A wise friend once told me when I first decided to buy mutual funds:

Just stick money in the fund(s) and FORGET ABOUT IT. Resist the urge to log in and check it every day. You’ll only give yourself ulcers!

I think it’s terrific… fantastic… nay, stupendous advice! There is just one problem:

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I have not been following that sage advice lately!

I’ve owned mutual funds (at Vanguard) for a couple years now, and most of the time I only pay attention to them when I want to buy more shares.

A Bad Habit

I must confess – when the bottom started falling out of the stock market back in January ’08, I began a regretful habit of logging into my Vanguard account every evening to survey the damage. I did it first out of wonderment, then amazement, then fear, and finally disgust. Now it has become a habit!

Most of my Vanguard assets are in index funds, most of which have taken a severe beating since the beginning of the year. However, I am proud that I have not sold a single share, despite the volatility. The current value of my shares have decreased, but I still own the same number. In essence, I have not lost anything.

I’ve actually used this opportunity to scoop up a few more shares, as if they are “on sale.”

Still, it’s awfully depressing to watch a value that drops almost every day, even if the loss is unrealized. Yes, I realize how silly and foolish it is to check on my mutual funds frequently. No good can come from it. It’s a waste of time and energy.

That’s what I keep telling myself, yet I continue to log in and gawk every evening! It’s as if I’m witessing a train wreck in-progress and can’t look away.

My Pledge

At this point, I fully intend to follow that sage advice my wise friend gave me. Therefore, I refuse to log into my Vanguard account for at least a month. Let’s make it April 15th.

I don’t need the money in my index funds anytime soon, and I can’t afford to buy anymore shares for a little while, so I have absolutely no need to sneak a peek at my account. No reason at all. Not going to do it. 🙂

I intend to kick this ridiculous daily-checking habit of mine and reset it more along the lines of monthly-checking.

How about you? Have you found yourself sitting on the edge of your seat and biting your nails as you watch your long-term investments plummet? If so, you are welcome to join me in NOT logging in again for at least a month! 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Checking Your Long-Term Investments Every Day – A Horrifically-Bad Habit

  1. I’ve been monitoring my accounts daily for over ten years (before that valuations weren’t often available online, so you mostly had to “make do” with monthly printed statements). You don’t need to check your balances daily, but doing so does no harm if you have the “right” mental attitude. You get used to daily ups and downs and can learn to view volatility dispationately – “Oh, I’m up $50,000 today” – “Oops, I’m down $50,000 today” 😉

    It’s quite surreal that my net worth can jig up and down by tens of thousands in a day, yet I still focus on saving a few dollars by bringing my lunch to work from home. The trick is to view your net worth and portfolio performance with your “long term” hat on, and yet live day-to-day sticking to a budget of expenses that matches your disposable income by putting on your “short term” hat.

    If you can’t mentally cope with volatility, I’m not sure only checking monthly will help – you’re likely to just get an even bigger shock. Either never bother checking the balances at all, or reallocate into an asset mix that provides volatility that is in line with your risk tolerance.

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