What GameStop Reminds Us

These are different rules than those of your fantasy football league. With that, you might be churning through trades all the time, scrambling to move a player that didn't do as well as you'd hoped one Sunday, only to see him do great for a rival team the next week. In such a scenario, you bear the brunt of your friends' trash talking. Meanwhile, your retirement could bear the brunt of haphazard stock trading.  The stakes with the latter are just a whole lot higher.

Your 'competition' in investing, such as it is, is not your friends, family, or neighbors. It's invisible, but it's always with us. It's the passing of time.

This is why you always read about saving early and saving often. It's also why in recent years legislation has been enacted to allow older people to contribute more to their IRAs than younger people can. That's for people who let time get away from them. It's easy to do.

Forget about trying to catch the next Tesla or other hot opportunity on the way up. Focus instead on saving and investing more, immediately and consistently, in funds with low fees. The financial planning application WealthTrace shows that doing this can give a person hundreds of thousands of dollars more by retirement.

If You Can't Beat Them . . . But Actually You *Can* Beat Them

We have a lot of history and a lot of data trying to give us a very simple message. Human nature being what it is, we sometimes ignore that message. We get lured away by shiny distractions, sometimes briefly, sometimes for quite a while. But in the end the original message is the one we always come back to:

Invest as much of your money as possible in low-cost index funds, through thick and thin, rebalancing from time to time.

Can that really be all there is to it?

Over a year, or five, or even 10, you'll get 'beaten' by your friend's cousin who, say, bought Dogecoin on a lark, or had a Robinhood day-trading winning streak for a few months. But almost invariably, those short-term gains turn to pain, as the participants try to find the next big thing--and fail. It's simply too hard to get short-term trading right over the long haul.

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