Your investment score does matter

Published 4:01 pm Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I learned to play baseball in a little pasture behind New Hope Baptist church. We had to ride 30 minutes to Siluria to play games at the Buck Creek ball fields. I never was much of a hitter, but once I got over being bat-shy, I was a decent catcher.

We North Shelby boys had fun playing and didn’t beat the guys from Alabaster very often, but we did learn one very important lesson: at the end of the game, the score is the only thing that matters.

Your investment score is a lot more important than any baseball game. Do you feel good about your portfolio? How about your 401(k)?

All the crowd noise surrounding investing these days can make it difficult to know, really, what you own, why you own it and how you are doing.

What do you own?

Make a list of everything you own, from savings accounts to 401(k) holdings. Write down a simple explanation of each one — what it is and how it works.

Explain it to a seventh grader (borrow one from a local Little League if you do not have one of your own). Repeat the process until the seventh grader has no questions and completely understands what you own (you may have to buy pizza).

Why do you own it?

Get face to face with your investment advisor and get them to explain to you why you own everything in your portfolio.

That it was being pushed by their company or had some esoteric tax function are not acceptable answers.

Make a list of your objects like growth, safety, tax efficiency or income. Assign each of your holdings to an objective. You may find yourself pursuing some goals before others.

How are you doing?

Call your best buddy and tell them in simple terms about your performance. By the end of your conversation you will either feel great or you will want to do a number of things differently.

Your buddy won’t care about your ego or the reputation of your advisor. Neither should you. At the end of the game, only the score matters.