Taking Charge: In Investing, In Life

Recent polls conducted by CNN and other news outlets reveal that a majority of respondents believe that the country suffers from a “decline in personal responsibility,” which may account for many of the country’s ills both at home and abroad. And while psychologists and other observers of the cultural landscape debate about what that actually means, it’s clear that leaving decisions about life and finances in the hands of others means surrendering a significant amount of personal power.

The notion of personal responsibility for your financial future lies at the heart of Jason Hartman’s investing philosophy, as revealed in The 10 Commandments of Successful Investing. Commandments Two and Three, although apparently contradictory, illustrate why it’s essential to take personal charge of investing decisions.

“Thou shalt have a professional investment counselor,” says Commandment Two, while Number Three states, “Thou shalt maintain control.” These two statements dovetail with Commandment One, “Thou shalt become educated,” to illustrate how taking responsibility for your investing goals underlies a successful investing career – and makes things work better in other areas of life, too.

People who don’t have the facts are at the mercy of the people who do. And in investing, there are many unethical and incompetent advisors who claim to know more than you do. Becoming informed, learning everything possible about investing and the market you’re interested in, allows you to identify and weed out bad advice and sleazy advisers. It also helps you to find good ones, since your own familiarity with the field lets you ask the right questions and evaluate their answers.

Recognizing what you don’t know as well as what you do know – and getting help to fill in the gap when appropriate — is also a part of personal responsibility. Even so, it’s essential to follow the Third Commandment and maintain control of the process. If you’ve educated yourself and taken charge of the decision to engage a professional financial advisor or other professional, you’ll be able to deal with that individual as an assistant and supporter that you have chosen, not the other way around.

Keeping control of your investing plan also means practicing hands-on management as a direct investor, rather than handing over decisions to brokerage and other kinds of companies. In this way, the investor keeps control of all aspects of the process, and the result is the financial independence that drives many people to get involved with investing.

Jason Hartman’s 10 Commandments for successful investing emphasize, in life and in the world of investments, getting informed, choosing the right

assistance, and keeping control of the process go a long way toward putting individuals in charge of their destiny – in both the personal and financial worlds.

The American Monetary Association Team

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