January 5

There’s No Ozempic For Financial Decisions

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I’m skeptical of any diet or exercise craze because they all end up more or less becoming fads.

This is why I could never get behind the idea of buying stock in Peloton, even though I am a happy user of the product.

Sure, some people will buy it and use it regularly. Others will buy it, use it and then stop using it. But there is always another piece of equipment or exercise routine that comes along.1

When it comes to diets there are plenty of them that can work. The problem is not necessarily the diets themselves but the behavior required to stick with them.

One study estimates some 95% of all people who lose weight on a diet gain it all back eventually.

It’s for these reasons I didn’t pay much attention to the Ozempic and other GLP-1 studies as those results began trickling in. But the more I learned about it the harder it became to ignore.

Not only were people reporting weight loss of around 15-20% of their body weight but they weren’t craving as many salty or sugary foods. People feel fuller on the drugs. It lowers heart disease.

There were other benefits in addition to weight loss. Subjects reported they were drinking less, smoking less, not gambling as much and even stopped biting their nails.

I went from being skeptical to thinking this is some sort of miracle drug. I’m sure there are some side effects and other issues that take away from the miracle label but potential ramifications here are enormous.

If the price comes down and a decent percentage of the population begins taking these drugs there is going to be an impact on the agriculture industry, fast food, packaged food companies, the healthcare industry and probably a dozen other industries I can’t even think of right now.

I’m not smart enough to sift through all of the potential winners and losers if this happens but this could be real a game-changer.2

Reading about these drugs and the impact they are having got me thinking about how this relates to your finances.

There are no miracle drugs that can help you make better financial decisions.

You can’t take medicine to save you from FOMO during a bubble.

A doctor can’t write you a prescription that will make you feel less envious of the Joneses.

You can’t get wrapped in a full body cast that will prevent you from panic-selling your stocks during a bear market.

No amount of physical therapy will take the pain away when you go into debt.

There aren’t any surgeries to remove the feelings of greed and fear you get from watching your portfolio move up and down during the different market cycles.

You get the point.

The good news is there are differences between physical health and financial health. I know diet/exercise makes for a good personal finance analogy but it’s much easier to change financial behavior than it is to change your habits when it comes to eating and exercise.

Eating right requires you to constantly make decisions — things you should eat, things you should avoid, etc. If you eat three meals a day that’s 21 dietary decisions a week and nearly 1,110 diet-related decisions in a year. Add in all of the food options we have available today and we’re probably talking tens or even hundreds of thousands of decisions when it comes to eating.

Exercising requires you to actually get off your ass and do something. You have to move. You have to sweat. You have to lift stuff. And you have to be motivated enough to do it on a regular basis, even when you don’t want to.

You can’t automate your physical health. Sure, you can plan out your meals and when you’ll go to the gym but you still have to follow through with it.

You can automate the majority of your financial decisions. Bills can be paid automatically. You can pay off your credit card balance every month without ever thinking about by setting up auto-pay.

Every time you get a paycheck, you can have funds automatically directed to different accounts for saving and investing — online savings accounts, brokerage accounts, IRAs, 401ks, etc.

And once the money hits those accounts it can be invested automatically exactly as you desire. You can put money to work automatically in the asset allocation of your choice. You can rebalance automatically. You can tax loss harvest automatically. You can buy and sell automatically.

Maybe someone will create a drug that turns us all into robots in the future but for now there is no way to take the emotions out of your finances. Your emotions aren’t good or bad, right or wrong. They just are.

But you can make good decisions ahead of time so you’re not forced to deal with those emotions at times when they can ruin your financial plan with a boneheaded mistake.

I spend very little time on my own personal finances because 95% of it is set on auto-pilot. Bills are paid. Contributions are made. Investments are bought or sold. My portfolio gets rebalanced.

I still have to make course corrections along the way and check in on occasion to make sure everything still makes sense. But technology makes it easier than ever to take the worst parts of yourself out of the equation when it comes to financial decision-making.

And the only side effects of automating good financial decisions ahead of time are rising portfolio balances, higher credit scores, increased savings balances and more time to spend on the things you actually care about.3

Michael and I discussed Ozempic, making better financial decisions and much more on this week’s Animal Spirits video:

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Further Reading:
My 4 Anti-Personal Finance Expert Beliefs

Now here’s what I’ve been reading lately:

Books:

1Peloton’s stock is still down more than 96% from its highs. Obviously, the company should never have grown to a $50 billion market cap in the first place but some combination of speculation and the pandemic took this stock to heights it never deserved. I still wonder if someone like Apple, Nike or Amazon will ever buy them.

2The caveat here is people need to stay on the drug. And there will surely be a response from the food industry (maybe they’ll actually start making healthier snacks?).

3Is this a dad joke? I’ll let you be the judge.


Tags

Behavioral Finance/Psychology, Wealth Common Sense


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