As you all probably know, I recently bought a house here in Salt Lake. Home ownership has been a mixed bag thus far, but overall I’d say it trends toward the positive. One of the nice things was the $7500 tax credit from Uncle Sam for purchasing a house in 2008. Not quite the free $8k plus $6k from Utah, but it’s still a nice chunk of change. The caveat is that I have to pay it back in taxes over the next 15 years in $500 installments.
At first I was reluctant to take the money and accompanying debt, but in reality, you can’t go wrong with no-interest loans. It’s basically free money to play around with, so naturally, I decided to invest it. My father recommended Fidelity as an excellent source of quality mutual funds and other lower-risk investments, and I already have an online checking account through them, so I figured I’d give em a shot. After a bit of research and market analysis, I decided that it was a good time to start investing, and put $5k in two Fidelity mutual funds.
That was on April 15, and the markets have gained about 5% since. So far, it’s looking pretty good. It’s been pretty interesting following the spikes and troughs, and the more closely I follow the markets, the more I realized how emotional the whole thing is. Every single daily market report contains words like “leery,” “optimistic,” “fear,” and “enthusiasm.” So we’re all throwing trillions of dollars into this intractably complex system governed by….fears? Mood swings? Predicting the market seems impossible from such a perspective. How much of an impact does the media play on this system? Does the government time their labor reports to coincide with large market spikes? It seems like investors are the worried suburban mothers being barraged by hyped news of flus, predators, and everything else scary under the sun.
Thus I’m trying to break through the noise and only listen to longer-term market news and historical perspectives. My investments (minus the 401k of course) are short-term, and I can cash out whenever I want, so the goal is to play on market trends. If I can gain $500 a year, the money becomes mine. It’s only been a month and I’m almost there already, however, these are atypical times for investors. I’m just trying to ride the bull and keep the emotions at bay…