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Spring Cleaning

We’re getting a taste of Spring in and around Atlanta.
More sunshine.
Warmer weather.
To soon be followed by pollen, allergies, etc.
That means it might be a good time to do some Spring cleaning…
See more below 👇
And thanks, as always, for reading.

Time for Spring Cleaning?
Spring is in the air.
And for some of us, it means it’s time for a good Spring cleaning.
If you want or need some inspiration, here’s a Spring cleaning checklist I found online:
Spring Cleaning Checklist
But in addition to cleaning around your home, there’s no better time to do some Spring cleaning with your personal finances.
For example, do you need all 7 (or however many you have) of those different credit cards you’ve collected over the years?
My recommendation: find one good credit card, hopefully with a good rewards or cashback program and ditch the rest. Maybe keep one extra as a backup.
Of course, you should only use credit cards if you’re paying them off in full every month.
But you knew that, didn’t you?
How about your banking?
Still working with a big mega-bank?
You know which ones I’m talking about.
The banks with a branch around every corner, advertising plastered all over the place, little-to-no interest on your checking & savings, and the potential for fees galore.
Not sure about you, but with our new pandemic-restricted lives, you probably haven’t spent a lot of time in a bank branch in the last year or so.
And you might not have set foot in a bank branch well before Covid became a thing.
Maybe it’s time to “clean” up your banking and look to a better option.
Check out this list of the best online banks and compare them to your current setup:
The Best Online Banks Of 2021 | Bankrate
Next up on your financial Spring cleaning list… your financial plan.
You have a financial plan, right?
Assuming you do, I hope your plan is based on YOU and YOUR life, and not based on whatever some “advisor” was trying to sell you when she put it together.
Your plan should be simple, easy-to-understand, and should be easy to update and adjust.
Whether your Spring cleaning project is that junk drawer in your kitchen, your garage, or your entire home, I’d encourage you to consider ways you can clean and simplify your personal finances.
Just remember:
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. - Da Vinci
May the Odds Be Forever in Your Favor
If you know me or have been reading my writing for any length of time, you’ll know I believe in low-cost, total market, index funds for building portfolios.
Many people refer to this as “passive” investing, but I think my portfolio team’s approach to investing is anything but passive. More on that in a future weekly letter.
As a result, I don’t believe it’s worth paying higher fees for “active” investment management where they’re trying to pick investments and/or time the market in an effort to outperform.
And coincidentally, this effort to outperform introduces the opportunity to underperform.
Index funds are immune from underperformance.
But I digress…
I’ll let this image tell the story:
Click the image above to access the source material
Click the image above to access the source material
In plain English, what the image above tells us is that through June of 2020, over 1-, 3-, and 5-year periods, large company active investment funds had increasingly low odds of beating the S&P 500.
Now don’t get me wrong, the goal here isn’t to beat the S&P 500.
In fact, beating an arbitrary index isn’t really a goal at all.
My point is, why would you (or anyone) “bet” their family’s future finances on such low odds?
I sure as heck wouldn’t.
But wait, there’s more…
See this CNBC article which highlights some thoughts and comments from Charles Ellis:
Investment guru Charles Ellis reveals the ugly truth about how some funds hide poor performance that can derail your retirement
There’s a better way to invest and plan your future, and it doesn’t involve subscribing to the ideas of the Wall Street marketing machine or relying on the whispered investment tips from friends and family.
It’s simple, really.
Just as it should be.
Reach out if you’d like to discuss this further.
Until next Wednesday,
Russ

Postscript: I’ve been listening to a lot of 80s and 90s music lately. Here’s a great little song from Toad the Wet Sprocket from my college days. It’s called Nightingale Song. 🎵
Why indie music? Please read the Postscript of Issue #2 for context.

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Russ Thornton

I'm Russ, a financial advisor based in Atlanta, GA. My focus is retirement planning for women (and their families) who are 55+. Every Wednesday, I write an email letter with my thoughts and perspectives on retirement and its many related topics. And I might include some other ideas or interesting topics as well 😉

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Russ Thornton | Atlanta, GA | Disclosures: https://bit.ly/3e5t5UJ