Educating Our Children, Educating Ourselves—An Allegory in Parts

Educating Our Children, Educating Ourselves—An Allegory in Parts

This blog post is sponsored by Russell Rivera, CFA with Voice Wealth Management


My son is five years old. Last year, we were mired in the process of finding a Kindergarten for him. As many of you all know, this can be a harrowing process. Our family decided to go the public school route, and attended open houses for several schools. One Open House was particularly memorable–great school, our kid would love it. But as you might expect, there was one of those super Type A parents who had eighty questions, dominated the conversation, and attempted to intimidate teachers, administrators, and parents with his presence.

This parent asked a question about whether or not the curriculum was more successful at getting children into Harvard and Yale or Dartmouth and Princeton. What would you think if you heard a parent asking this question at an open house for a Kindergarten? You might think that he was overbearing, at minimum, or perhaps crazy for trying to manage the minutiae of curriculum (for a school his child is not yet a student at) to get his child into a particular college 13 years from now!

Here is where my family and this gentleman differ. First, we started planning and researching for our child’s education early. We were aware of many of our options years in advance and started discussing them. We considered costs, quality of education, and quality of community in our decisions. However, we recognize that there are only so many things we can control. We can control where we live, but we cannot control how our son might do on an entrance exam. We can read to our child, but we cannot control whether our son will be able to interpret Shakespeare at age six. To try to do so would likely be an enormous waste of time and resources, as well as likely making our whole family unhappy.

Here’s where the parallel to investing comes in. So many of us, individuals and professionals, try to control how are investments will turn out. We try to buy at the right time, sell at the right time, pick the right stocks or sectors to invest in. The truth is, we can’t do it. We can only control what we can control. When it comes to investing, what we can control is the risk we are willing to take on and how long it is before we decide we will need the money we have invested. We cannot make our investments go up (or down). So we give voice to those things we can control. Wasting psychic energy on other factors is folly and usually counterproductive.

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