Bright Shiny Balls

  • I'll let you in on a secret. Here at TDS we often talk about 'bright shiny balls'. They're the things that catch your attention and draw you into them. They're all over the web and the rest of our world. Sometimes on the web they're described as 'click bait' because they're designed to catch your attention and get you to click on them.


    Frankly they're a concern to us because we have to compete for your attention with sites that use them. If you're clicking on shiny balls somewhere else we can't share our time and money-saving info with you.


    I read an article that talked about a related subject this week. It said that we have a tendency to focus on anything that startled or surprised us. Anything out of the ordinary instead of paying attention to other more important things.


    The article was actually on another subject, but it occurred to me that it was probably true about our money, too. Let me see if I can create an example. Suppose you're thinking of buying a new car. You spend hours researching and shopping for it. You picture yourself behind the wheel enjoying it. Coincidentally, at the same time you need to decide how your 401k funds should be invested. Do you keep the same mix that you selected last year? Or adjust the mix to get a better return on your money?


    You don't have enough time for both so you focus on the car. Is that the right way to use your time? Probably not. Think about it. The car decision (although shinier) may save you a few dollars if you find a better deal. And whatever choice you make you're unlikely to live with it for more than the 10 years you drive it.


    The 401k decision could have a much greater impact. The investment choices you make now could make a huge difference in how much you'll have at retirement. And you could be retired for 30 years.


    So the 401k decision is probably more important than the car choice. Not shinier, but more important.


    We're all tempted by bright shiny balls. It's our nature. But we're foolish if we let them run our lives. Maybe we need to start a 'just say no' campaign!


    Keep on Stretching those Dollars!

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