Is Happiness More Important Than Money?
Last week, I saw a very interesting personal finance story. If you haven’t seen this, then take a guess who this story is about. This person is an entrepreneur, hedge fund manager, and investing guru. Here is their asset allocation.
- 50% in cash
- 40% in U.S. index funds
- 5% in international index funds
- 5% in gold and crypto
Wow, 50% cash allocation! That is extremely conservative. I’ve been an investor since 1996 and I never had a cash allocation that large. I always put any extra money to work ASAP. In my opinion, cash is the worst asset class to hold. The interest rate is so low that you’ll lose purchasing power every year. This is especially true in 2022. My savings account gives me 0.1% interest this year. Even the 12-month CD gives only 0.6% interest. That is dismal. Meanwhile, inflation is 8.5%! Any cash in my saving account will lose over 8% of its purchasing power in a year.
It just doesn’t make sense to keep a lot of cash in your portfolio. I only keep enough cash to pay the bills plus a modest amount for an emergency. Our emergency fund is about 3 times our monthly expenses. Anything extra is pushed into our Roth IRAs, I bonds*, investment accounts, and real estate crowdfunding. This way, our money works for us. Having 50% in cash seems crazy to me. Why would an investor do this?
*I bonds are inflation-protected US government bonds. For bonds issued from May 2022 to October 2022, the interest rate is 9.62%! That’s risk-free and amazing. You can buy $10,000 of I bonds per year from Treasury Direct if you are a US citizen, US resident, or a civilian employee of the United States. You can also buy I bonds for your children. It’s a great deal.
Did you guess who this story is about? It is Jim Cramer, the famous investing guru on CNBC. Check out the interview. It’s less than 2 minutes long. Isn’t it ironic? He tells the public which stocks to buy, but he invests very conservatively in his portfolio. It turns out his wife wanted financial security and that meant cash to her. She told him if they’re partners, their financial decisions must be 50/50. She wanted her half to be in cash. So cash became the biggest position in their portfolio. Jim Cramer says he’s happily married and there are bigger things in life than money. Happiness comes first.
Still, that is a bit extreme. Jim Cramer is worth $100 million dollars. 50% of that is $50 million. With 50% in cash, they’ll lose over $4 million dollars in purchasing power to inflation in 2022. That’s a lot of money to throw away. Well, their index fund allocation probably will lose even more this year, but stocks will recover at some point. Cash won’t ever recover its value. When inflation takes a bite out of your cash position, that 8.5% is gone forever.
Jim Cramer chooses a harmonious family life over more money. He’s already wealthy so happiness is more important than money to him. What’s 4 million when you already have 100 million? He also makes $30 million per year. He has plenty of options. In addition, he is 67 years old this year. They should be a lot more conservative than younger folks.
In contrast, our RB40 portfolio has less than 1% in cash. I’m getting closer to 50, but I don’t plan to draw down our retirement fund any time soon. We still have plenty of time to recover if something goes wrong. Well, 2022 has been a pretty rough year for the world and the stock market. It can be nerve-wracking to see the Dow Jones index drops 1,000 points. However, we lived through many crashes and we are in it for the long haul. The stock market will recover and I will keep investing. By the time we’re 65, the stock market will be a lot higher than where it is today. That’s when we plan to start withdrawing. Our asset allocation probably will be a lot more conservative then, but I won’t put 50% in cash. That’s too much.
Fortunately, Mrs. RB40 gives me free rein on handling our investments. I invest for the future and keep her updated on how our portfolio is doing every month. Her retirement account at work is invested more conservatively. Everything is in the 2040 target-date fund. It’ll automatically adjust to be more conservative as the years go by. She understands that investing in the stock market is the best way to become wealthy.
Here is a short guest section from her.
Mrs. RB40’s input
I feel like Joe is writing this piece just for me. There was a time when I was very concerned with wanting to have $50,000 on hand in cash, mostly for emergencies. I’m not sure exactly where I came up with that number. Many blog commenters wondered about that, too. I have no rational explanation. I did not have any investing experience and previously dealt solely in cash. Perhaps it was the idea of a high enough even number that appealed to me, along with accessibility.
I’m perfectly happy with Joe investing for the whole family. I trust his knowledge and he researches everything; he doesn’t just wake up one day and make decisions on a whim. Though at the time he made his ‘retire by 40 decision,’ I thought it was a whim. While I don’t understand every single thing about our asset allocations, I have enough knowledge to know why we’re investing, in what, and how. Now I’m much more comfortable with only having 3 times monthly expense in cash instead of a lot more. When asked if I would prefer to have more cash, my visceral reaction is yes, for the reasons above. Cash is something tangible that I can feel. But I also am fine with less.
Earlier this month, Joe told me that we lost $xx0,000 from our net worth so far in 2022. I can’t remember how I reacted exactly but Joe thinks I rolled my eyes and sounded bored with the number. Maybe I’m used to it by now? I do remember the first time I looked at a status report and saw that our net worth went down by a similar number and I got really worried. Having a downturn of that many zeroes did not sit well with me and I couldn’t breathe. But apparently, monitoring one’s net worth rise and fall over the years is part of investing. As long as the general trend is upward, right?
I was surprised to hear Jim Cramer keeps 50% of his portfolio in cash. It is so unexpected because I would never do that as an investor. However, I can see why he did it. Having a happy home life is worth much more than money. They’re already wealthy so a few million dollars extra won’t make a difference in their lives. His wife sleeps better with her half in cash. That’s what counts.
On the other hand, I would try to convince my wife that putting all her money in cash is a bad idea. The fact is she will lose a lot of purchasing power every year to inflation. In the long term, investing is a much better choice. If that doesn’t work, then she might have certain unconscious beliefs about money. Why does she need to keep all her money in cash when she knows investing is better?
Here is a good quiz about money scripts. These are unconscious beliefs about money. It only takes about 5 minutes to do. It’s a neat quiz. If you’re doing something illogical, it’s probably psychological. Figure out why you’re doing it and you might be able to make better decisions in the future.
All right, that’s it for today. I hope you’re staying in the stock market. It’s a bit scary, but it will come back. Invest now and you’ll be wealthier later. Don’t cash out!
How much cash do you have in your asset allocation?
Real estate probably will continue to perform well. We still have a housing shortage in the US and people need to live somewhere. Check out CrowdStreet if you want to generate passive income from commercial real estate. It’s way easier than being a landlord.
Image credit: Eyestetix Studio
Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!
Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.