back pain

Content provided by Steve Donahoe, CFA, CLS Senior Portfolio Manager

As I write this, I am struggling with significant back pain. I could tell I tweaked it recently when I had to move two very heavy pieces of furniture from the garage into my daughter’s new room on the second floor. Now that she is a teenager, she asked if she could have the larger spare bedroom and we agreed to her request. We also used that as an excuse to upgrade her bedroom furniture from the little girl theme she has had for a number of years, to something that she may want to take with her when she leaves the nest in the future. However, given how heavy these dressers were, I think I will offer to buy her lighter stuff when she leaves.

It took over a full week for the pain to suddenly flare up to the level of discomfort it is currently at. To the best of my recollection, my recurring back issue started towards the end of my UPS career many years ago as I was working my way through college.

It is amazing how much back pain can improve posture. Anything less than perfectly disciplined posture brings agony to my face. Given the recurring nature and the fact that the pain always goes away within a couple days, I do not go see the doctor for it. I simply carry on as best I can all of my usual routines, but I do them just a little slower and a bit more carefully.

I think this is an appropriate analogy for how investors should behave. Just because the market may pose a challenge at time does not mean your portfolio should suddenly be completely reworked during these challenging times. Often when pain is high, poor decisions can be made; therefore, discipline becomes even more important during the trying times. During my back pain flares, I make no radical changes to my routine, and I believe that has been the key to my quick recovery every time. The same may be said for an investment portfolio. When the market flares up and brings pain to investors, this is not the time to make significant changes to portfolios. A careful examination of your circumstances may be required but in the end your plan should guide your decisions not your current pain.