I made a costly mistake recently. I had rolled over some funds from my old 401(k) into a traditional IRA at Vanguard, where I have much of the rest of my funds. Somehow it escaped my notice that in the rollover, the shares had been sold and the dollar value of the shares was transferred over. And put in a money market account, not in the target retirement mutual fund I *obviously* put those funds in. And for the past year and a half, I noticed my account wasn’t growing much as I expected from the S&P 500’s appreciation, but somehow never picked up on that unsettling feeling. I suppose it’s because it ran into conflict with my identity: I identify (I guess) as a “well-informed retail customer”. And so that unsettling feeling/bit of information never made it past that identity/ego’s gate.
So what’s the solution? Is it something analytical (compare performance quantitatively) or emotional (listen to yourself when something is off)? Both? I don’t know!
But it’s good to put it in some perspective. The loss of the money (mitigated by the money market fund) amounted to a number of thousands of dollars. I am fortunate to say that amounts to a small percentage of my net worth, such that a couple rough market days would account for it. And it taught me that I have made a lifestyle for myself such that my happiness is not dependent on exactly how much I have. This is my Berkshire Hathaway moment.