Investing for Everyone
Many of the most valuable lessons from my time at the University of Chicago come from a class I took this semester called “Economics for Everyone” taught by Steven Levitt (author of Freakonomics) and John List. One of these lessons was Professor Levitt’s 6 tips for a strong personal finance strategy. Here they are:
Hold a diversified portfolio
-Holding expected return constant, diversification lowers the risk of the portfolio
-An easy way to do this is to buy mutual funds/exchange traded funds (ETFs)
Don’t pay other people to manage your money
-So called “experts” don’t beat the market
-Fees can eat up almost half of your expected returns
-Avoid hidden fees...buy only “no load” or “low load” mutual funds/ETFs
Take lots of risk when you are young/middle age; take less risk as you get closer to retirement
In general, you probably shouldn’t be saving a lot when you are young (the lifetime income hypothesis), but one exception is you should participate to the maximum in retirement savings plans that are subsidized by your employer
As long as you are saving, do it in the most tax favorable way (IRAs, 401ks, 503bs)
If you start saving at age 30, and follow the rules above, you need to save about 6-8% of your salary thereafter to maintain your consumption level when you retire
I was aware of some of these before taking the class, but there are many aspects that surprised me, such as the point to save when you are rich and spend when you are poor, as well as the high cost of financial advisors. Thanks to Professor Levitt for the great insights, and I hope these might end up helping some of you!
Photo is of Thomas Hunt Morgan's 1933 Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine for discoveries elucidating the role that the chromosome plays in heredity by studying fruit flies. We all got to hold it while touring the MBLWHOI Library in Woods Hole, MA where I completed a summer biology course. The composition of a Nobel Prize was changed in 1980, but his is 200g of 23 carat gold, the original makeup.