|Yet, if you look at the way humans are designed to learn, we learn by making mistakes. We learn to walk by falling down. If we never fell down, we would never walk. The same is true for learning to ride a bike. I still have scars on my knees, but today I can ride a bike without thinking. The same is true for getting rich. Unfortunately the main reason most people are not rich is because they are terrified of losing. Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is a part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.|
— Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad, Poor Dad
It occurs to me that, financially speaking, I have learned a lot by falling down.
I managed to rack up (and carry balances on) over $10k in credit-card debt by the time I was age 30. I managed to take my single-largest investing loss ever by devoutly acting upon my long-term-buy-and-hold philosophy at the time; this, regarding a local company I thought I "knew" well enough to invest in. (A perpetually-full parking lot means you're making huge profits, right?) Coincidentally enough, I was investing in this company — and losing this money — at the same time as I was carrying credit-card balances ... and even running them up. Yes, I was falling down. And doing it over a period of years and years. And compounding losses upon losses. This much is certain.
What I am not so clear on is where — or even if — I have allowed a "fear of losing" to get in way of my success. I suspect it is beneficial to always be on the lookout for such things, and hopefully be able to derail them when they arise.
After spending some time considering this question, about the only thing I can come up with is my current investing stance. I have become quite a conservative investor over the last year or so. Is this fallout from the aforementioned LTBH debacle, or perhaps a hangover from the market implosion of 2000 to 2003? Maybe. Or maybe it's just what lets me sleep well at night.
Either way, in a manner which is strikingly opposite to what most any investment advisor would recommend to someone my age, a hefty 59 percent of my 401k is resting in money-market funds. Another 24 percent in balanced funds, 6 percent in growth-and-income, and 8.5 percent in growth funds. Is this a "fear of losing" manifesting itself in my investments?
Sort of looks like it, when viewed from a Kiyosakian perspective.