December 30


Today’s Letter from Grandma Sylvia


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Dear Reader,


It’s almost a new year.  I wonder how many of us will be making promises to ourselves to do better or to do some things different next year?  Today’s letter is about resolutions.


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The Big Picture


Why do some people have such great resolve or determination and others make New Year’s resolutions only to break them almost right away?


Countless people have had terrible obstacles to overcome in their lives and have shown remarkable resolve   A few of the more well-known people include:


  • Victor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who survived Auschwitz and other concentration camps
  • Stephen Hawking, an English theoretical physicist with ALS disease (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)
  • Helen Keller, an American author, lecturer and political activist who was deaf-blind
  • Charles Krauthammer, an American psychiatrist and Pulitzer prize-winning columnist who was paralyzed from the neck down
  • Nelson Mandela, a South African anti-apartheid activist who became president of South Africa after serving 27 years in prison.


For each of these individuals, I like the following quotes that speak to their resolve:


Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

Viktor E. Frankl


However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.

Stephen Hawking


Your success and happiness lie in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.

Helen Keller


Sometimes it’s easy to go where the wind blows, but those that stand firmly planted are forces to be reckoned with.

Charles Krauthammer



I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

Nelson Mandela


Finally, I also like this quote from Abraham Lincoln,


Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.


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A Story

This story is about the here and now.  It’s about my resolution to stay the course, despite the dramatic recent losses in the market.   I’ve been practicing the ‘stay the course’ strategy for several years, yet it’s still a very bad feeling to see a lot of your money vanish, especially at a Grandmother’s age.

My brother-in-law, Al, has a strategy he uses when the market becomes worrisome.  He ignores it.  He goes on with his life without checking what he’s lost.


I like that and have found it to be useful.


My resolution for the new year is to continue to stay the course, week by week, and to remember to keep enough cash on hand for emergencies so I can continue to sleep well at night and not panic.


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Today’s Topic: Resolutions


Looking back on 2018, it seemed like a wild ride.  Christmas Eve had the worst stock market close in market history.  Then, the day after Christmas, U.S. markets had the best day in more than 10 years.  Where will the year end?  What resolve should an investor have?  Certainly, I don’t know but there are many people willing to make predictions.


According to Chinese astrology, this next year (Feb 5, 2019 to Jan 24, 2020) is the year of the Pig and is said to be a good year to invest and make money.


Predictions and crystal balls aside, many investors will make New Year’s resolutions as they look forward to 2019.  A recent Fidelity Investment survey found that almost one-third of Americans plan to make a financial resolution, including plans to save more, pay down debt, and spend less.  However, historically, less than 50% follow-though with these resolutions.


From the field of psychology, one study found that New Year’s resolutions that included joy had more chance of success than those of delayed rewards.  So, a resolution of having $1000 additional in the market at the end of the year had less chance of success than a resolution of putting $20 a week into the market. The study found that the more immediate joy or satisfaction that was linked to the resolution, the more likely it was to happen.


Many financial resolutions include having a plan, paying off debts, saving more, etc.  For readers here, both the blog post with Bernstein’s advice (Post 11) and the post with Pollack’s advice (Post 7) have more than amply ideas for New Year’s resolutions. Good to reread them.


Finally, I came across a variation of an old proverb that advises people to have two slips of paper in their pockets. On one paper is written, “Today the world will end.”  On the other paper is written, “I will live forever.”  It’s not likely that either one will happen, but pulling out a paper from time to time during the day ­­­helps to stop procrastinating about important things and also to stop worrying about unimportant things.  The advice was to create New Year’s resolutions from those slips of paper.


Important Idea


♠ Consider making a New Year’s resolution that gives you more immediate joy or satisfaction.



Now, I’m going to enjoy reading a good book and savoring the many leftovers I have at hand. Wish you were here.


Grandma Sylvia


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