Sept. 15, 2020
- I was lucky to grow up with a grandfather who was a retired business school professor; he taught me many important lessons about money and investing.
- My grandpa Joe earned a Master's degree from Columbia University, where he took classes taught by famed investor Benjamin Graham, author of "The Intelligent Investor."
- My grandfather taught me the importance of keeping track of your money and understanding your investments.
I didn't learn a whole lot about money in school, but I was lucky to have a family that made it a point to teach me how to manage my finances. When I think back to where I picked up much of my basic financial knowledge, I picture summer trips to visit my grandparents in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
I was lucky to grow up with a grandpa who was a business school professor. He earned his graduate degree from Columbia University, where he took classes from famed investor Benjamin Graham, author of "The Intelligent Investor."
While he didn't teach me the same marketing lessons he shared in the classroom, he taught me lessons about the stock market that are an important part of my investment strategy. I know they work, too, since my grandpa's buy-and-hold investing strategy helped him become a millionaire.
Here are three important lessons from my grandpa Joe that you can use to boost your long-term investment results.
Understand the companies behind the stocks you buy
Tesla and Apple have both been in the headlines recently, as their stock prices went so high that company leaders decided it was time for a split. That means pre-split shareholders will get more shares that are worth less each, for the same total value they had before. But one important part of a stock split is understanding that the fundamentals of the company have not changed.
Stock prices go up and down, but the company's total intrinsic value is the true driver of the stock's value. My grandpa wouldn't buy a stock on a whim or based on a recent market trend. He would look at tried-and-true fundamental indicators, including the company's revenue and profit trends, to make sure he understood the company he was buying.
That doesn't mean you need to be a biochemist to buy a biotech stock or a software engineer to buy a tech stock. But taking the time to understand how the company makes money and how it's performing is well worth it when making decisions about your portfolio.
Keep track of your investment performance
Some of my most favorite memories in Fayetteville began with a trip to the downtown bank where my grandpa could look up stock prices on a computer terminal in the lobby. Before most of us had home internet, my grandpa would dutifully head to the bank to update a paper spreadsheet tracking his stock prices.
For long-term fund investors, you can set up your portfolio and forget about it for the most part. But if you invest in single stocks, as my grandpa did, it's important to track your investment performance so you can decide if it's still worth holding.
By tracking the value of his portfolio, my grandpa could make educated decisions about whether or not certain stocks remained the right fit for his investment goals. I generally buy to hold for a decade or more, but occasionally, a company's performance justifies selling earlier than I had originally planned.
Budgeting gives you more money to invest
When I was about 8 years old, my grandpa gave me what every little boy dreams of: an accounting general ledger notebook. OK, so it wasn't my dream present. I would have rather had Power Rangers toys. But the lesson that came with that notebook has helped me add more and more to my portfolio over time.
With that notebook, my grandpa told me it was a good idea to write down every time I made money and every time I spent it. This would help me track how much money I had and where it was going. If that sounds familiar, it is the same basic principle used in budgeting.
My grandpa grew up during the Great Depression, so he always knew the value of a dollar. By spending thoughtfully, even when he had plenty of money to splurge if he wanted, he was able to continue building his wealth in the markets rather than squander it on something else.
Let Grandpa Joe help you build your portfolio
My grandpa died shortly after I graduated from college, but his legacy lives on through the lessons he taught to his many college students, and through the lessons he taught to me. If you follow his advice about understanding your investments, keeping track of their progress, and adding to your portfolio regularly, you are making smart decisions for your investments.
While there are never any guarantees in the financial markets, putting in the work to build a resilient, well-thought-out portfolio tips the odds of success in your favor.