The Problem with Checking the Hardness of your Meat
My friend, Ted, and I have long and protracted conversations. Neither one of us will allow the other to speak for more than a minute without seeking clarification on every aspect of the story being recounted. We laugh and laugh over the smallest of detail. We easily find hours of laughter in a witnessed awkward exchange or tales that our respective fathers told us of characters they met in their travels. I worked for years at a correctional facility, which has provided many hours of strange tales and Ted has a knack for getting himself into odd situations and surrounding himself with people with a penchant for peculiarity.
One such story he told appeared to be nothing but a simple story. It was comprised of only a few sentences but upon further investigation I have found it to also have universal applications. I will first recount the story and then draw my conclusions.
Ted calls me up and asks if I had lost power a couple days prior. Although we seldom lose power, we did on the day in question, so I answered in the affirmative. Ted then told me that his coworker had also lost power that day. This coworker had approached Ted to discuss some concerns he had around the power outage. His primary concern was with the potential spoilage of a recently purchased side of beef. Ted reassured him that the beef would be fine for quite sometime as long as no one opened the freezer door. The man objected to Ted’s suggestion. Apparently this guy insisted on repeated and prolonged inspection of the beef throughout the day. He reported to a speechless Ted that although the power had only been out for 12 hours or so, he had conducted several “hardness checks” by removing vacuumed packed beef brick after beef brick to check every last rump roast in the back of the freezer. He would handle the meat until his hands would freeze, checking and rechecking for any defrosting.
Although Ted and I found the humor his actions, in reality this response was a waste of time in the least and at most a detrimental exercise that could result in the loss of hundreds of dollars in beef. We have reminisced on the story many times and I have found myself telling the story over and over to clients who can’t stop trying to “time” the market. The act of timing the market is when an investor tries to buy and sell to take advantage of future increases and decreases in the market. Many people have been burnt by this and may futures have suffered. The market is not rational and neither is anyone who attempts to time it.
Much like that man and his freezer, people keep giving up value to make sure they are not missing anything. I watched people liquidate their holdings for the crash that was to accompany the debt ceiling… by the way, those people are still waiting. I saw people buy gold to prepare for this impending collapse that never occurred. Gold is good for many things and may greatly appreciate, but we are just one huge gold discovery or bad news story from it plummeting in value.
I had a client tell me that he was buying gold in case of economic collapse.
I told him if the economy collapses there would come a time that he would gladly trade all his gold for bottled water or a can of gasoline… not to mention if one guy has a full gas can, one guy has a gold brick and a third guy has a gun, then the story ends with a third guy ending up with a gold brick, a gas can and keeping his gun.
As the great financial author Nick Murray says… “The time to buy is when you have the money and the time to sell is when you need the money.” Period…
The point of this article is not to condemn the active traders or to tell you that buy-and-hold is the answer to all your prayers but instead to encourage you to not to choose the number you bet on the roulette wheel based on the nightly news.
“The time to buy is when you have the money and the time to sell is when you need it and quit checking the frozen pot roast.”
I added the last part myself…
Eric Simonds MsFP, is the owner of Saltwater Harbor Financial, LLC. He is an efficient market theorist and feels that in the day and age of instant media there is no advantage offered by actively managed funds. This and other founding principles of Saltwater Harbor Financial can be found Here.