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Friday, September 18, 2009

Have You Got the Right Attitude for Investing?

Posted by patrick

By Damian Papworth

In the world of investments, attitude counts for a lot. Why is that, you may be asking? The answer is simple: in investing, it's important that your decisions be founded exclusively on information and reasons pertinent to that investment. You never want to put yourself in the situation where you end up making a decision on an investment based on completely extraneous and irrelevant matters. Hence the saying "Plan the trade, and trade the plan." I've listed some points which may help you with this.

1. Never invest money you need to use for your living expenses. Even if you don't need this money this month, next month, but you know you'll need it in 3 months, don't invest it. If you put money in any investment market that you need to pay for your living expenses, at some stage you will need to make a decision about that investment, due to your living expense commitments.

For example, Lets say you need that money in 3 months to pay a mortgage repayment. Your investment may temporarily drop on the very week you need the money. In this situation, the correct decision, based on your strategy, could be to hold for another week. But because you have the mortgage, you make the decision to close the investment. This decision was made on information which was irrelevant to the investment and ended up ruining the trade and causing a loss. This issue would never exist if you only invested money you didn't need.

2. When you invest your money, it may help you to imagine that that money is completely lost as soon as you invest it. Quite often investments look like they are going bad before they turn around. It just happens as part of the typical fluctuations of the investment market. Many a good investment has been turned into a bad one by people (me included) who get scared and close a trade, instead of giving it the time to complete successfully.

If you convince yourself the money is gone when you invest it, its much easier to avoid getting the jitters during these times. (And let me tell you, there is nothing worse than closing a trade early for a loss, only to watch it turn around and become successful, if only you had let it run its course.)

3. Another part of your attitude as an investor must be the recognition that failed investments are just a part of the game. Any investor will incur losses at one point or another during their track record; what's important is to know how to react to those losses in the right way, with the right attitude. Letting them affect you in disproportionate measure will keep you from ever becoming a savvy investor in the long term. Below are two very helpful ways for viewing unsuccessful trades:

3a). Instead of looking at your portfolio as a series of individual investments, think of them as a group or a totality. Imagine that based on a certain investment strategy you are running, four out of every five investments runs a profit (which alternatively means that one out of five is a loss). Instead of considering the losing investment as independent of the other four, rack all five up together in terms of net profit and then divide that by five, not four. The answer, which is your profit per trade, must reflect on all trades in the strategy and in that sense, 20% of the final net profit is courtesy of the failed trade. Remember: if it's a necessary part of the overall strategy, it is not strictly a loss.

In this manner, you save yourself from abandoning a good method simply for fear of small failures.

3b). View your losses as education expenses. Most professionals in the finance industries have spent years and tens of thousands of dollars in universities and educational facilities, learning to ply their trade. Unsuccessful trades are a professional investors "university". To do this properly you have to make sure you analyze these trades and learn from them. Do this in a professional and unemotional manner, otherwise you may fail to make the grade, which will mean you miss out on making long term money through investing.

Investment markets are renowned for being able to bring out the very best and the very worst in people. It is fundamental that an investor learn how to dominate and control such emotions, remove them from the decision making process, so that they don't weigh where they don't belong. Remember the saying: "Plan the trade, trade the plan.

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