It’s the time of the year when we are barraged with lists: Stocks to buy, books to read, explanations of why the bad choices made in the past year will work out better next year. And, the forecasts, so many forecasts. Worst of all are the horrible suggestions for New Year’s resolutions.
Rather than my usual pedantic finger wagging, let’s take a page from the Charlie Munger playbook, and invert. Consider my list of resolutions, each one less likely to succeed than the next.
1. Save more money: This is the year when the Ritholtz household will tighten our belts, and sock away some money for a rainy day.
Out: going to expensive restaurants, vacation travel, Broadway shows, music concerts and stand-up comedy, two-day delivery on unimportant stuff from Amazon. The expensive car leases, the boat and marina docking fees, first-class seat in the plane — all gone. Oh, and no more Starbucks lattes.
In: Streaming, cooking at home, borrowing books from the library, staycations.
Make a budget, stay with it. See, this is easy, right?
2. Spend more time with the family: How hard can it be to carve out an extra 10 hours a week to spend more time with your loved ones? Schedule a date night or three each week with the spouse, go to the kids’ games and recitals, invite the in-laws over for brunch, read bedtime stories to your children. Family is everything, right?
3. Invest more: You already max out your 401(k), but that doesn’t mean you can’t scrape up some more money for retirement savings or other investment goals. Put together a few themed investments — say, cannabis companies, or emerging-market small cap value — throw some money into that each month. Also, any time the market falls 10 percent, overcome your own panic and throw a few bucks into a Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fund. Saving more money is easy. So is this.
4. Lose weight /eat better: I mean, how hard is this one? Cut the sweets and fat, reduce your portions, don’t eat after 8 p.m., add more fresh fruits and vegetables, eat less processed food. (You’ve already stopped going out to restaurants). Oh, and limit yourself to one glass of red wine a day — no more spirits or beer. The pounds will just disappear.
5. Read more books: The U.S. publishes about 300,000 new titles a year, surely you can find some time to read a few of them? Cut out a television show (or some of that family time you just regained) to pick up a few hours of time for you. Then pick a few books each month to read — I’ll give you a start with a list twice a year. You will be smarter and better-informed before you know it!
6. Get to the gym: We all know the health benefits of exercise. Lift some free weights, hit the speed bag for a while, jump rope, work up a sweat. Buy yourself a rowing machine, stepper or elliptical, and stick to a routine. You’re guaranteed to live longer and better.
7. Get more sleep: Why didn’t I think of this before?! I will just sleep two hours more each night. Start by going to bed earlier and waking up a bit later and not putting in that half-hour on the computer before heading to the office. This is something you’ve dreamed of doing forever. How hard can it be?
8. Stop multitasking: Don’t respond instantly to every email and text. Also, turn off the flashing, pulsing, vibrating notifications on your smartphone for each new email or text message. Pick two times a day to read and respond. Almost instantly, you will be present in the moment.
9. Reinvent yourself: Learn a new language, take up a new hobby, volunteer for charity. If you’ve done the above, you will now have enough time that you can surely squeeze in another few hours a week to reinvent yourself. While you’re at it, indulge your creative side, let go of negative things from the past, revel in what the future holds. See, making yourself into a better you is possible.
10. Stop procrastinating/being late: Just because I waited until Dec. 31 to get this list published doesn’t mean I am any less committed to ending my habit of putting things off to the last minute. If I can do it, so can you.