Brian Ford (00:06):
Welcome to Money and Mindset with Bright and Brian, a podcast to help you find confidence and boost your financial outlook. I’m Brian Ford, and I have a passion for studying and teaching financial wellness.
Bright Dickson (00:18):
And I’m Bright Dickson. My background is in positive psychology, aka the study of what makes for a good life.
Brian Ford (00:24):
Today, Bright and I are here to help you start investing, but we’re not just covering the basics, the how-to stuff. We’re going to help you find your investing mindset so you can be a long-term investor.
Bright Dickson (00:36):
Brian, I have been so looking forward to this, because as you know, I’m a novice investor myself. I’m a newbie, and I’ve got questions for you. But listeners, we also want to hear your questions about investing so we can discuss on future episodes. So if you want to, please send us a quick email at AskBrightAndBrian@truist.com.
Brian Ford (00:56):
Yeah. Email us, and not just your questions, but we also want to hear your success stories, comments, or topic ideas that you want us to cover in the future. If you do reach out to us, we won’t share any personal info.
Bright Dickson (01:09):
All right, Brian. Are you ready to take us to investing school?
Brian Ford (01:12):
Absolutely. Let’s go.
So Bright, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my career, it’s that investing can seem intimidating, especially when you’re just getting started.
Bright Dickson (01:30):
Yeah. I really had no idea where to start, and that was really my big problem. My primary issue.
Brian Ford (01:35):
Yeah. And there’s lots of reasons why people don’t feel ready to invest, and some of them are valid, but I want to let you in on a little secret. Many of the reasons we don’t invest, they’re not good enough to hold us back from starting to invest. And by not investing, it’s difficult to achieve our full financial potential.
Bright Dickson (01:54):
Yeah. So Brian, can you share with us some of the top reasons why people don’t invest and what we can do to overcome those misconceptions, and get good enough reasons to start?
Brian Ford (02:07):
Yeah. I mean, it’s not uncommon for people to share with me why they’re not investing. Let’s see if I can break it down as far as kind of what I’m hearing from folks. So sometimes I hear people say, “I just don’t have enough money to invest.” Well, the truth is, we can invest very little. It doesn’t take a whole lot. So very little upfront, and it’s going to grow over time.
Another common reason for not investing is, “I just don’t know where to start.” First of all, it’s a good thing we’re tuning into this podcast. One of the keys to overcoming this is education. Education is not only a great tool to help you master the how-to of investing, but it can put you in a more confident mindset as well. So keep listening to good material. Keep reading. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a financial planner, and listening today will give you the basics so that your questions with the planner are more informed.
Also, I’d say sometimes I hear people say, “I’m afraid of the risk. I don’t want to lose money.” And look, Bright, this one is fair. Investing always carries risk. In fact, if you’re not exposing your money to some risk, you’re probably not investing. But there are some things we can do to lower our risk, like being properly diversified. Dollar-cost averaging. Having the help of a planner or using a robo-advisor. And I’ll just say to our listeners, stay tuned, because later in the show, we’re going to go into greater detail on these specific strategies.
Bright Dickson (03:36):
You know, I think I have even still a little bit of all of those. That’s all kind of in there for me, too. There’s a lot in there to get started.
Brian Ford (03:46):
All right. You’re resonating with some of these. That’s good. That’s good. I’ve got a few more. It’s also not uncommon for me to hear something along the lines of, “Wouldn’t my best option be to just save money in a savings account? Why do I even need to invest?” And first I want to say that saving is important. It’s tough to be a good investor if we’re not first good at saving. However, our money does virtually nothing in a savings account, so it’s difficult to save our way to many of our long-term financial goals, especially like retirement.
Another common reason for not investing is, it’s difficult to know, “When is the right time?” I hear this a lot. So when it comes to investing, it’s about time in the market, not timing the market. I mean, nobody can predict what the market’s going to do next, so the best time to start investing is now. Also later on in the show, I mentioned we’re going to talk about dollar-cost averaging, and that’s going to really help you to kind of jump in and know that you don’t have to do everything all at once.
I’ll give you one more reason, Bright, why some people don’t get started, especially if you’re on the younger side. Sometimes we feel like our goals, especially like retirement, they’re so far off in the distance that we don’t really need to start investing now. But the truth is, investing takes time, the power of compound interest takes time, and the more time our money has to be in the market, the better our odds are of reaching our financial goals.
Bright Dickson (05:17):
Yeah. I think I’m in that group, too, Brian, because retirement just seems for me like an impossibility, right? I just feel like I’m going to be working forever, but you know, I’ve got to be real about it and know that it’s not an impossibility, and I need to start prepping for it so that it’s good, right? So that I don’t have to keep working forever. And I think the best thing is, having the knowledge you need eases that anxiety, right?
Brian Ford (05:42):
Bright Dickson (05:42):
So for me, knowing that I have lots of control over my investing and my money as a whole, and that there are well known strategies for success—it’s just made it seem more doable, not so scary, not so overwhelming.
Brian Ford (05:55):
Totally. And as you start to invest, you’re only going to learn more and become more confident, so it kind of builds on itself. It’s sometimes just taking that first step.
All right, Bright. So next, I want to talk about how we can get into the right mindset for long-term investing, so stay with us.
Bright, whether our listeners are investing in a 401(k), which is a retirement savings plan offered by employers, or a personal brokerage account, we hope they’re investing for the long term. So for long-term goals, and not trying to time the market or do something really risky to get rich quickly. But for a lot of our listeners, long-term investing goals, which include planning for retirement—they can seem so far away. How do we frame our mindset to understand our future needs and stay in it for the long haul?
Bright Dickson (06:51):
Yeah. I think this is a really great and hard question. And Brian, I know the mindset part is usually my territory, but I’m really interested in what you see out there. So I’ll tell you sort of my original going-in approach that I still think about, and it still kind of comes up for me. So I wasn’t experiencing a lot of anxiety about investing. I wasn’t worried about it. I just wasn’t very interested in it. It’s a little boring to me, I think, if I’m really honest, right?
Brian Ford (07:20):
Bright Dickson (07:21):
Yeah. I mean, look, there I am, right? So I hear people talk about it, and this used to happen all the time in the past. It only happens sometimes now, but my brain just kind of tunes out and starts replaying a movie or writing the grocery list or whatever. So is that normal, Brian? Am I normal?
Brian Ford (07:42):
Oh, my gosh. That’s funny. No, it’s not uncommon. Not everyone loves this investing stuff as much as I do. In fact, I’m married to one of those very normal human beings, like you are, that’s not as interested in investing, so no. I get it. Pretty normal.
Bright Dickson (07:59):
So just for the record, you’re the abnormal one. But OK, so …
Brian Ford (08:02):
Well, OK. I don’t know …
Bright Dickson (08:00):
For the record, you’re the abnormal one, but OK.
Brian Ford (08:02):
Well, OK. I don’t know if we have to put it that way, but OK.
Bright Dickson (08:06):
It’s on the record now. So my question for you is, what mindsets do people tend to have around investing that we need to be careful with, that we need to be aware of and think clearly about?
Brian Ford (08:18):
Yeah. Well, first of all, I’m going to say you’re giving my wife ammunition by the way for our next little investing conversation. So appreciate that, Bright. Yeah. All right, so …
Bright Dickson (08:27):
That’s what I’m here for.
Brian Ford (08:29):
Yeah. What do we need to be careful of as far as these emotions? When it comes to negative mindsets, I would say I see three main ones. We have fear; we’ve got apathy; and then we’ve got greed. Or greed sometimes shows up in the form of FOMO, the fear of missing out when the market’s going up like crazy. But I’d say those are the three that I see the most: fear, apathy and greed.
Bright Dickson (08:55):
I would guess that I’m probably on team apathy.
Brian Ford (08:58):
Team apathy. All right.
Bright Dickson (08:59):
Brian Ford (08:59):
Bright Dickson (09:00):
Right. I don’t want to think about it.
Brian Ford (09:03):
Yeah. And are you still on team apathy when the market goes down, and it’s kind of scary, and are you still on team apathy when the market’s going crazy up and maybe you don’t think you’re doing enough? Are you still on team apathy or do you fluctuate a little?
Bright Dickson (09:18):
Yeah, no, I don’t fluctuate. I’m like, OK. Yeah.
Brian Ford (09:23):
All right. So since you tend toward that apathy mindset, what’s helped you shift to more of a long-term investing mindset?
Bright Dickson (09:31):
There are a couple of things that helped. The first thing was that because of my job at Truist, I was able to opt in to my 401(k). There was a preexisting structure that required pretty minimal effort from me. And I’m all about “not effort.”
Brian Ford (09:49):
Nice. I actually like hearing that by the way.
Bright Dickson (09:52):
And that’s a perk of my job. I’m lucky to have it. The second thing was checking in on it once in a while and seeing it grow. I probably check it maybe once every couple of months, maybe even just a couple times a year, honestly. But when I do check in, and it’s bigger than it was the last time, and I see that number, I’m like, “Ooh, cool, excellent.”
So I get that positive reinforcement, and that actually motivated me to look for other investing options to see even more growth, to get that little hit of emotion again. And I think the third one and the big one for me was that I shifted from “investing is a chore” and that belief structure to “investing is a game,” and more specifically my approach now—and it works for me, maybe it doesn’t work for everybody—but my personal [inaudible 00:10:48] sort of investing is a game that I might win if I play wisely and I play for as long as I possibly can.
So that game mindset, it has parameters. But for me, it helps me cultivate more positive emotion around it, be more curious, more interested, and embedded in that is growth mindset. This belief that I can learn more, I can get better as I learn.
Brian Ford (11:10):
Nice. Despite your apathy, it sounds like you’re making good progress.
Bright Dickson (11:14):
Yeah, I think so. You probably could tell better than I could. But Brian, I also on the mindset front, I have a little quibble that I want to bring to you, and I want to get your thoughts on.
Brian Ford (11:24):
Bright Dickson (11:25):
I’ve got an apathetic little quibble. So I’ve heard this phrase, “Emotions and investing are like oil and water. They don’t mix.” I’m assuming you’ve heard that one.
Brian Ford (11:36):
Yeah. I think I’ve been known to say that from time to time. I’m curious now—what’s your quibble?
Bright Dickson (11:41):
OK. I know what this means. What this phrase is saying is don’t let your emotions like fear and anxiety lead you to make decisions that turn around and bite you in the long run. Good advice. I get that. My quibble is this, and I want to hear your thoughts on it. I think that some emotions can be really positive and helpful in investing, but in money management as a whole. So emotions like hope, gratitude, excitement—they can be really motivating and help us get moving on the investment front. My message is, the right emotions at the right time can be helpful and are worth paying attention to, and same on the other side, the wrong emotions at the wrong time can be very unhelpful and are also worth paying attention to. That’s it—quibble resolved. There we go.
Brian Ford (12:34):
Quibble resolved. OK. Well, I didn’t even say anything. You were just going through and talking, and the quibbles resolved. All right. Well, do you mind if I jump in, though, and provide just a little bit more clarity on this idea of being careful with emotions when it comes to investing?
Bright Dickson (12:52):
Brian Ford (12:52):
Because I like your thoughts by the way. I dig it. I would say using positive emotions can help motivate us to begin to invest and to stay motivated long term, but not while we invest. Once we have the motivation to invest, we need to be careful not to let the negative emotions, mainly fear and greed, derail us. But I think we’re pretty much on the same page, and I like your added nuance to it. I dig it. I’m going to change my tune. You’re teaching me something here, Bright. And we’re talking about investing. Look at this.
Bright Dickson (13:24):
Look at that.
Brian Ford (13:25):
So Bright, a big part of investing for the long term is setting long-term goals. How do we motivate ourselves to set these long-term goals?
Bright Dickson (13:33):
A couple things. So one, I think we’ve got to put ourselves in the position of being in the future. And one of the things that I kind of like to do with this is say, “OK, let me kind of forecast who I am at 65, 70.” I kind of create that picture of her in my head and be like all right, what is she going to wish that I had done? I think it’s really about what we call prospection, so looking into the future. But I think that’s a big thing for me.
I also think setting the goals is one thing but having the structure and getting into some kind of structure so that it’s not all ad hoc all the time. The structure really, really helps me, and I think that’s part of my apathy, but I think there’s structures out there for people to do this, too. So Brian, on the fear thing, I know we’re in this moment where this stock market hasn’t performed as well this year as it has in the past. And a lot of people are looking at their 401(k)s with some fear. They’ve got some negative emotion. Are you worried about the economy? And when we’re in this kind of moment, what I do know about the stock market is it goes up and down. What should we be thinking and feeling about the stock market when it’s going down when we’re in this kind of moment?
Brian Ford (14:47):
That’s a great question, Bright. I’m not worried. Downturns are expected. I plan to keep calm and carry on dollar-cost averaging into the market. The markets fluctuate, and that’s normal. In fact, I sometimes ask people when I’m out and about speaking, I’ll just throw this question out there, and I’ll say, “How many recessions have there been since the Great Depression in the 1930s?” I’ll throw that out there to you, Bright, any guesses on the actual number of how many recessions there have been since the Great Depression? What do you think?
Bright Dickson (15:21):
I know I’ve lived through a couple of them already, so I’ll just average that out. I don’t know. Ten. Ten.
Brian Ford (15:26):
OK. OK. You’re a little better than math than most folks. The most common answer I get is around six or seven. That’s a very normal response. I’ve gotten that hundreds of times as I speak. But there have been about 14 recessions. Again, we need to be careful of that negative emotion of fear. This is where having a financial planner to steady us during volatile markets comes in handy.
All right. Now that we’ve covered why people don’t invest and a little about our investing mindset, in our next section, we want to talk about how to get started and controlling what you can control by understanding some investment basics.
Bright Dickson (16:12):
All right, Brian, let’s jump right in. So let’s say someone’s ready to start investing, they want to get into it, where do they begin? One of the things that I’ve learned is that before discussing accounts and that kind of thing, it’s important for the individual to think about how they invest. Is it a self-directed brokerage? Is it robo? Is it working with an advisor? How do we do this? And robo-advisors can be used for multiple types of accounts, right?
Brian Ford (16:51):
Yeah, for sure. I’d say when starting out on our journey to investing for retirement, we want to keep things simple. So if we’ve got access to a 401(k), that’s not a bad place to start. We can contact our HR department or our 401(k) provider and just get rolling. If you don’t have access to a 401(k), no worries. We would want to look into an IRA, and that just simply stands for individual retirement account. A robo-advisor—it’s not a bad way to go. Robo-advisors are simply AI, or artificial intelligence, driven investment services, and they’re pretty cool. They use advanced algorithms to help manage our portfolio so we do less worrying. That’s not a bad thing. But I want to quickly circle back to the importance of a 401(k), Bright, especially if your company has a match.
Many of us know there’s a correlation between risk and return. Typically, to achieve greater returns, an individual would need to take greater risk and so forth. And we also know that markets go up and down. I’m trying to basically get a 7% or 8% return on my investments long term, but in order to accomplish that, I’ve got to expose my money to some risk. But I want to chat about company sponsored 40(k) match because it’s a little different. So I’ll give you an example. Let’s say we work for a company, Bright, and I put in a dollar, and they put in 50 cents. So if we think about that for a minute, we put in a dollar; our company matches it 50 cents. Think about what percent return on our money is that? Pretty simple.
Bright Dickson (18:33):
Brian Ford (18:33):
Bright Dickson (18:33):
Brian Ford (18:34):
Bright Dickson (18:34):
That’s what I was going to say—it was 50%.
Brian Ford (18:38):
Bright, come on. I know you. You’re pretending to not be good at math.
Bright Dickson (18:43):
I’m really not.
Brian Ford (18:44):
What? Not true. I know where you went to school. You’re not fooling me. And let’s say we work at a company that does a dollar-for-dollar match, which isn’t uncommon, so we put in a dollar, and then our company puts in a dollar. What percent return on our money is that?
Bright Dickson (19:04):
Brian Ford (19:06):
Yes. It’s 100. That’s amazing.
Bright Dickson (19:07):
Brian Ford (19:09):
Yeah. I mean, this section, I just started talking about how my goal is to get 7% or 8%, and to do that I’ve got to take some risk. And the crazy thing is, how much risk do we have to take to get that match? The answer’s none. I mean, if anyone else tells you that you can get a 50% return on your money except for your employer, if you’ve got a 50% match, or a dollar-for-dollar match is a 100% return—if anyone says they can give you a 100% return on your money, risk free, you’ve got to like turn around and run. They’re lying to you. They’re selling something crazier, or you’re watching cable television at some ridiculous hour in the middle of the night. It just doesn’t exist. So I would just say that that’s one of the reasons why I say first-time investors should start with their 401(k) and get some help from either their HR folks or from their 401(k) provider. That’s where I’d say we should start.
Bright Dickson (20:01):
Yeah. And I’ll just say, for me, that worked, and it makes total sense. Get that match. And so, Brian, I do invest in my Truist 401(k), I’ve got some other stuff going on, but also, if I want to take my investing to the next level and really learn more, what are some of those time-tested principles that I should really keep in mind?
Brian Ford (20:23):
Glad you mentioned time-tested. I love that phrase when we think about the past and what can work for us going forward. And I also want to start this little section out—I want to tell you just a quick story, because it reminds me of my friend. He’s a brilliant individual. He’s actually a surgeon. He’s got four boys. And he told me this story one time, and I think it really illustrates the principles that I’m about to chat about. And they said that they had a mouse in their house, essentially, and his wife was freaked out. There was a little, I would say, evidence of this little furry creature in their house.
Bright Dickson (20:59):
Brian Ford (21:00):
Yeah. I wasn’t going to say that.
Bright Dickson (21:03):
I mean, we all know what you’re talking about.
Brian Ford (21:05):
Droppings, OK. So yeah, we got those going on, and my friend, who’s brilliant, he gets together with his boys, and he’s like, “We’re going to get this mouse.” So they start planning, and literally they’re whiteboarding. They come up with this, like, crazy invention where they get a bucket, and on top of the bucket they fasten this piece of paper, and they use a little razor blade and they put little slits in the piece of paper. They put a piece of cheese on the top of it and then a little board so that the mouse can go up. You get it. The mouse goes up to get the cheese. Its weight causes it to break through the slit paper, and then they’ve got it in the bucket. So they set their trap up, went to bed, woke up. They were pretty excited because the paper was broke, the cheese was gone. They look in the bucket—no mouse. And they’re like, “What?”
They realize they have a champion high-jumping mouse on their hands. So my friend’s like, “All right, he’s not going to get the best of us.” So he gets together with his boys; they start whiteboarding again. They come up with ideas, and after their brilliant planning session, they’re like, “We’re going to put some water in the bucket.” So same thing. They set it all up, but they put water in the bucket. They set the trap up, go to bed. They spring out of bed the next morning like it’s Christmas. They go down. They’re excited again. Cheese is gone, paper’s broken. They look in the bucket—no mouse. And they realize not only do they have a world champion high-jumping mouse, this mouse is pretty good at swimming as well. So they figured, “OK, let’s give it a couple days. We got to think about this. Let’s regroup.”
Well, in the meantime, my friend’s wife—she’s getting annoyed and impatient. She goes to the hardware store. She buys an old-school mouse trap on her own without telling her husband and her boys. She sets it up that night, and literally the next day this mouse is caught, its athletic prowess notwithstanding. And my friend still uses this story to this day with his family to remind them of an important principle, which is, we don’t have to reinvent things for things to work. So time-tested things are important. And I’ll say this, Bright, although we can never guarantee these strategies, they’re not going to ensure success, I will say professionals have used these ideas successfully in the past, so that’s why I’m going to bring them up here. So how do we catch, I would say, better investments and maybe lower our risk a little bit? I mean, that’s the goal here. So I’ve got four here for you, Bright.
Bright Dickson (23:38):
Brian Ford (23:38):
The first one, the first mouse trap, is simply diversify. Diversifying means to spread your investments around. Diversification refers to the idea of not putting too much money into the same investment, like one specific stock. You may have heard the old adage, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Essentially, when people are saying this, they’re saying, “You should diversify.” It’s just a cooler way of saying diversify, I guess. I don’t know. So if done properly, this can help mitigate some of the risk of investing for beginners. So if one stock in your portfolio underperforms, it’s only a small percentage of your total investments.
Bright Dickson (24:19):
That makes total sense.
Brian Ford (24:21):
Yeah. Second mouse trap: dollar-cost average. When we dollar-cost average, we invest a fixed amount at set intervals. So let me break that down for you, because, I mean, dollar-cost averaging is something we’ve all kind of heard, but, like, could we explain it if someone asked us? We invest a fixed amount at set intervals—your 401(k) is a great example, Bright. Not everyone has that, but just to give you that example, you are investing a certain amount. So I don’t know what that amount is. Let’s just say it’s $1,000 every two weeks or $500 every two weeks. It doesn’t matter. Five hundred dollars every two weeks, no matter what’s going on. So it’s a fixed amount at set intervals. So what does this do for us? When the shares are higher in value, our fixed amount buys fewer shares. When the shares drop in price, the same dollar amount buys more shares. And the net effect is that over time you typically accumulate more shares at a lower average cost. So it takes the guesswork, and hence most of the emotion, out of the equation.
Bright Dickson (25:30):
OK. So the way I’m interpreting this, Brian, is that it’s a way to just get in there on a regular basis and make sure that you’re taking advantage of the way the market works over time, but not the timing necessarily.
Brian Ford (25:44):
Bright Dickson (25:44):
Is that right?
Brian Ford (25:45):
Bright Dickson (25:47):
Brian Ford (25:48):
Timing the market does not work.
Bright Dickson (25:48):
Brian Ford (25:49):
Yep. And you’re doing it.
Bright Dickson (25:49):
Brian Ford (25:49):
So way to go.
Bright Dickson (25:52):
Brian Ford (25:53):
All right. The third one. This one’s easy: Keep expenses low. Essentially, you don’t get to keep what you pay in fees. One way to do this is to use a robo-advisor like we discussed earlier. Although some investors may be better off paying a little more for access to a human advisor, robo-advisors can help keep your expenses low. All right, fourth. Take a long-term view. One of the biggest mistakes experts continually talk about is worrying too much about short-term volatility. I mean, I get it. It can be very hard to watch your investments fluctuate in value. By taking a long-term view of their performance, it should settle your stomach somewhat. A little bit. Something to keep in mind though, Bright, as we’re doing this is, the media does not generally take a long-term view of anything. I mean, media feeds us news, new information, the latest trends, the most recent headlines. The fact is, long-term investing—it can be boring, but that’s OK. And totally normal.
Bright Dickson (27:05):
Yeah. I mean, I think and, like, lean into the boring, right? And then, like, lean into that and, like, use it to your advantage over time. And Brian, what I love about these strategies is that no matter what the market’s doing right now, like, these are the things that I have control of. And it’s just really about staying in the game, right?
Brian Ford (27:25):
Yep. You’re spot on. Exactly. And that’s certainly a theme of our podcast, is controlling what you can control—and that’s exactly right. OK. Well, Bright, you know I love the subject of investing, and we do plan to have another episode about investing with a special guest in the future. However, that’s all we have time for today. Thanks for listening to this episode of Money and Mindset with Bright and Brian. Let’s recap today’s top takeaways.
Bright Dickson (28:02):
Number one, investing does not have to be intimidating. We can overcome our fears and sometimes our apathy with a little education.
Brian Ford (28:10):
Second, investing is about having a long-term mindset. Also when the market goes down, keep your goals in mind. No need to freak out about downturns in the market. Remember, they are expected.
Bright Dickson (28:23):
And finally, our favorite. Focus on what you can control. You can’t control the market, inflation, interest rates, but you can control how you invest and use smart strategies, like diversifying, dollar-cost averaging, and keeping those expenses low. Just keep in mind that even though it’s great to keep expenses as low as you possibly can, it can be worth it to pay a little more for access to a registered financial advisor if you feel you need help. That’s a good investment, too.
Brian Ford (28:53):
Well said. Hey, thank you for listening today. We appreciate our Truist Invest Pro team for sponsoring today’s episode. If you have interest in learning more about investing, you can check out our resources at Truist.com/Invest.
Bright Dickson (29:09):
And if you like this episode, be sure to subscribe so you know when a new episode drops. Feel free to share it with someone you care about, too. We love that. We’ll be back next time with a special guest who’s going to tell us a little bit more about the anxiety you may feel once you start investing, and how you can overcome it. See you then.
Speaker 1 (29:36):
This episode of Money and Mindset with Bright and Brian is brought to you by Truist. The opinions expressed herein are solely those of Brian Ford and Bright Dickson, and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Truist Investment Services Incorporated and its affiliates. This material is presented for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.