By: Revanche

Changing tactics

June 4, 2009

Every time I get set in my financial plan, I turn my mind one-quarter turn to the right and find myself seeing it in a slightly, or wholly, different way. That change of focus is, in many cases, a good thing.

So … I thought I had too much cash? No, not really, it was more like I finally realized that my previous worrying was excessive. Not unjustified, just rather obsessive. I am a slightly obsessive personality. Normally, I vent, develop a game plan, set the course and go! This time, I tinkered with the game plan, started off and kept second, third, and fiftieth guessing myself. For months. No wonder I was going slightly mad.

No small part of that is that there’s enough uncertainty in the job market, aside from the rather certain rejections I’ve had, to keep me guessing about how confident I should be.

More, reading articles about folks who planned well, saved, and still couldn’t find a job after months and even years of pounding the pavement catalyzed panic mode. I could literally taste my every fear coming to life: of following my family’s footsteps into unemployment and drudgery, of being the last bastion of support, and spiraling into financial and health failures … just like they did.

That’s one reason I haven’t even mentioned the layoff date to my family. I have no answers for them, other than unemployment +savings, and I can’t even mention the savings because my lousy brother will take that as an excuse to coast even more. The irony, of course, is that I’m hiding a major life event from my family that I support and still live with, yet I still haven’t forgiven my dad for lying to me about his job losses and indebtedness.

After spinning my mental wheels for a while, that steam wears out and leads to more productive thinking like, I can probably take a little of that stash and start investing now. I know that I haven’t maxed out either of my retirement vehicles yet, but with a dwindling income stream, I’d prefer not to lock up any more cash in the 403(b)/401(a)/Roth.

I’ve been wanting to buy some dividend stocks for years. Not on a grand scale. But what am I waiting for? Someone to take my hand and lead me through it? That’s not how I operate and that’s definitely not how I learn. I can read all I want about the schools of thought behind investing, but what I want is basic: to create income and protect assets. I’m looking for dividends and lower prices for companies that are basic and sound.

The temptation is to do it up big: throw five grand in the pot and create a diversified portfolio right from the get-go. But that dips far too heavily into the emergency pot for something that is essentially a business venture, non-essential, and a bit of an analgesic for the financial fear that swamps my common sense every so often.

So! The plan: open up an account with TradeKing using a referral from Sun at The Sun’s Financial Diary, deposit $1000, and buy some stocks. And hold them. No day trader am I.

Simple. Quick, except for setting up the ACH transfer capability which has always seemed rather primitive to me. Easy.

It’s all about finding the comfortable zone between being ultra-safe and taking some risks. I’m not going to get anywhere by stashing all my money in retirement accounts and CDs, nor will I throw caution to the wind. It’s just time to get in the game. More importantly, it’s time to work on things I can do.

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