The Greatest Risk to Your Wealth in 2013

by Andrew Snyder

The ringing in of a new year is a bittersweet celebration. As the seconds ticked off the clock last night, a rush of emotions rolled through my mind.

For a lagging moment, it was as if I was back inside the stark white delivery room of our local hospital waiting for my son to be born.

“One more push,” the doc looked up at me and said, “and you’ll be a dad.”

Whooaaa… stop the clock. Time out. Hit the brakes.

At that instant in my life, I straddled a great divide. One leg stood firm on what I had always known and what had always been – it was familiar and safe. The other leg, though, was wobbly. It teetered on the tip of an unknown world – vague and filled with uncertainty.

And so it was last night.

With just seconds left in 2012 I found myself once again fearful of the unknown. On one side of midnight was a rough, but familiar year.

It was the year when the words “I love you” first rolled off my son’s young tongue. It was the year the markets climbed a tall wall of worry. And it was a period of incredible gridlock inside the beltway.

There were ups and downs. But we made it... most of us with a pocketful of strong profits.

On the other side of midnight… a stranger.

What lies ahead, nobody knows.

There’s fiscal trouble in Washington. A looming fight over our guns. A national culture that needs healing. And a stock market that is utterly feared.

Despite our urging to the contrary, most investors are too scared to move.

After five years of some of the most volatile times in the market’s history, a growing army of bleary-eyed investors flat out refuse to plant both feet in the present. They continue to lean on the past.

It’s a losing – but comfortable – strategy.

With the idea equity-fearing investors missed out on some $200 billion worth of potential stock gains over the last four years in mind, let me ask you a question.

What did you do last year?

Are you wealthier? Healthier? Wiser?

We can’t help you with those last two. Or, at least that’s not our core mission. But we surely can make you wealthier.

Here’s the thing, though, nobody makes money unless they try.

It sounds obvious. But we’ve found countless investors are cowering in fear. They refuse to try. Meanwhile, stocks drive higher and higher – proving that fear comes with a very real and very expensive opportunity cost.

That’s the message for this holiday issue.

Do something.

We’re not writing about an investing technique today. There’s no fresh way to play the news. Not today. We’ll save it for tomorrow.

I simply want you to understand a simple idea; The greatest loss comes in the form of inaction.

In other words… do nothing, get nothing.

Over the next few days you will get bombarded with year-end reviews.

You’ll be told the S&P 500 finished the year up by about 12%.

You’ll be taunted by tales of stocks like 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD) that surged by over 200%.

And you’ll even be reminded of stocks that cratered and died.

But what nobody will tell you – because there is no way to measure it – is the cost of doing nothing. What could have been? What did fear cost you in 2012?

It’s no different than the conversation I had with my wife about a year before our son was born. Did we want a kid? Could we raise a kid? Would it be healthy?

There was lots of fear leading up to that “one more push” moment.

But the instant my son was born, I made a promise to him. Despite the fact I’ve never raised a kid… despite the pit of fear in my stomach… I pledged to never miss an opportunity. I’d jump the divide and never look back.

Sure, there’d be mistakes. I can already name dozens. But all of them combined are nothing compared to the richness of overcoming the fearful instinct to do nothing.

As we welcome the freshness of a new year, the message is simple. There is only one way to increase your wealth. Do something.

Good Investing,

Andrew

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