November 18

Today’s Letter from Grandma Sylvia


Dear Reader,

When the snow falls and schools are closed, many kids are overjoyed that they have this special time to be out, playing in the snow.  Hope you can enjoy snow now or memories of great snowy days.

The Big Picture

Isn’t it incredible to see the joy a young child has in learning how to walk or discover new things?  Sometimes we call babies bundles of joy.   Parents sometimes talk about their children as their pride and joy.

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I think of joy as that special feeling we have when we have pleasure, delight, and happiness all rolled into one.  Joy sometimes comes at memorable moments; at other times, we find joy just in our daily living.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow wrote:

It is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were. When we choose a goal and invest ourselves in it to the limits of concentration, whatever we do will be enjoyable. And once we have tasted this joy, we will redouble our efforts to taste it again. This is the way the self grows.

We can grow as investors by starting slowly and learning.

There’s a joy in feeling comfortable in investing in the market and knowing you are making good decisions.

Multicoloured backgrund with balloons

Feeling joy is so important that many books written about it, including:

The Joy of Cooking

The Joy of Leadership

The Joy of Less

The Joy of Painting

The Joy of Photography

The Joy of Professional Learning

The Joy of Sex

The Joy of Syntax

The Joy of Yoga

And the list goes on.

A Story

I had been terrified of the market when I first thought of investing: too many choices and too many ways I could make big mistakes.  I never thought the day would come when I would feel good about what I was doing and would find joy in  that I was a competent investor.

It did take a while and I made a few mistakes.

Then I learned to invest in a simple, easy way by buying index funds.

Index funds are just baskets of stocks or bonds created by companies to match an index, like the total stock market index or the largest 500 companies, the S&P 500 index.

For example, when I buy an index fund of the total stock market from Vanguard, I buy the index mutual fund with stock ticker VTSMX, or I buy the exchange-traded fund (ETF) with the stock ticker of VTI. At Vanguard these two funds represent the same basket of stocks.  Some investors like the mutual funds and some like the ETFs: personal choice. I buy either one by calling Vanguard and having a representative buy my choice for my account or by going on my computer and buying online into my account with Vanguard.  It’s very simple.

This way of investing helped me to relax and enjoy what my fair share of the market would bring me.

It’s great not to worry about picking stocks or bonds.  It’s great not to hear the news and the ups and downs of the market.  I find joy in knowing I’ve made good choices and I can enjoy my time with people and projects I love.

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Today’s Topic: Joy in Investing

Some people pay financial advisors to invest for them and they find satisfaction in making the choice of a good advisor.  Then they have joy in seeing their assets grow in good times, and they wait out the bad times.

For those who invest on their own, like me, we get joy in making good investment choices and then in seeing our assets grow; we also have to wait out the bad times.

We can all find joy in investing if we:

  • Know enough not to be afraid.
  • Know that we are investing the way the great thinkers recommend.
  • Know that we have low expenses.
  • Free ourselves from worrying about the news
  • Free ourselves from trying to outperform the market
  • Free ourselves from trying to outsmart others

Important Idea

•  Invest simply in index funds and find joy in investing

If you invest in index funds, I believe you will find joy in seeing your hard-earned money grow and you will know that weathering the storms is just part of the journey that in the long-run will keep you in good stead.  That is joy.


Now, I’m going to listen to some of my favorite music and relax.  It’s good to relax.  I hope you will take time to relax in ways that you enjoy. Wish you were here.

Grandma Sylvia