The most important thing to know about investing is that you’re already doing it. Every decision you make about how to spend your time and money is an investment.
Our education is an investment. So are our relationships and careers. Our passions and procrastinations, our workouts and our lazing-abouts, and the meals and media we binge, are all stocks and bonds in our portfolios, all just as important to our futures as anything in our 401(k)s.
It’s worth contemplating because we let so much time and money slip through our fingers. Much of this is out of our control. We blink about 14,000 times a day, which means, as author and humorist Bill Bryson notes, we spend a full 23 minutes of each waking day with our eyes shut.
But we also do this voluntarily. We shut our eyes to risks and opportunities. We indulge in fleeting pleasures (many of life’s greatest pleasures are fleeting, after all) at the expense of future happiness. Ben Franklin is right that time is money, but the relationship between the two is, well, complicated.
Money tends to be inflationary: Each dollar becomes less and less valuable over the course of our lives. Time runs in reverse: Each hour only grows more valuable as we age.
That is why we should all strive to become better investors of our money and time. And that is why MarketWatch is launching How to Invest, a newsletter and video series that will cover not just how to understand markets and finance, but how to invest your money and time to pursue a richer, happier, more meaningful life.
Produced by journalists at MarketWatch and Barron’s, this series is central to our larger mission of democratizing financial information. We want to make learning about managing money, investments and our futures an accessible, worthwhile and entertaining pursuit.
Since you are already investing, it’s worth investing your time to become better at it. Many people wish they could travel back in time and tell themselves to buy Apple and Amazon or to mine bitcoin. That, sadly, is not possible, but a form of time travel does exist, and it’s called investing.
“In essence, financial technology is a time machine we have built ourselves. It can’t move people through time, but it can move their money,” finance professor William Goetzmann writes in his book “Money Changes Everything.”
Investing, like life, takes time. And luck.
No matter how much talent we have or how hard we work, one of the largest shareholders in the fate of our lives is always dumb luck. But by learning to invest, by allocating our time and money in a diversified portfolio, it is possible to reduce the number of seats chance gets on our boards of directors.