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Clearly, Not Everyone Is Getting Rich Off The Stock Market

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Well, the NY Fed was out today with its Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit for Q4 2017. Clearly, Americans are in a lot of debt. Take a look.


Just a couple of quick hits from the report. Total U.S. household debt rose $193 billion in the 4th quarter, to a new all-time peak of $13.15 trillion. That's 17.9% above the most recent trough in Q2 2013. Broken down by segment, what do you suppose was the largest gain in percentage terms? Credit cards, with a 3.2% increase. In the picture above, the widening gap represented by the red arrows reflects the fact that non-housing debt is rising at a faster pace than housing debt.

Here's what's troubling about that. Below is a picture of the stock market, as represented by the S&P 500 index, over that same period; from the most recent credit trough in Q2 2013 to the end of 2017.


And thus, the title of this article. Over that period, the S&P 500 index rose by 75%; from roughly 1,600 to 2,800. Apparently, however, the r…

Positano - And A Key Benefit Of ETF Investing

Readers who are aware of either my Twitter account or blog may have noticed, and hopefully enjoyed, the beautiful picture of Positano featured in the header. This amazing Italian town is basically cut into the side of a hill. To get anywhere, you have to be willing to either walk up and down stairs, or find some form of conveyance to get around the narrow road that winds its way through the town (and still almost certainly walk up and down a few stairs to your final destination).

It was from one of the higher vantage points in the town that the beautiful picture I feature was taken. The beautiful dome or 'Duomo' you see belongs to the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta, originally the abbey of Positano's 10th-century Benedictine monastery, and restored in the 18th century. In the background shimmer the waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, a part of the Mediterranean Sea off the western coast of Italy.



It was no accident that this author, who writes almost exclusively on the benefits of ETF investing, chose to feature this picture. I could have picked some business-related picture; perhaps one of the iconic bull of Wall Street. Instead, I chose this particular picture to feature a specific, beneficial aspect of ETF investing.

That benefit is time. Yes, time to enjoy life, and the amazing world around us. Please understand, I am not intending to in any way knock the concept of devoting time to individual stock selection, and building your portfolio through this method. I tip my hat to those who make this choice, particularly if they manage to outperform the market.

At the same time, an ETF-based portfolio based on the anchors of low expenses and diversification offers the investor who makes this choice the blessing of time to devote to other endeavors, while still experiencing the benefits of participating in markets, both U.S. and foreign. Such a portfolio can be maintained with a minimum investment of time. A well-constructed portfolio can almost be a case of 'set it and forget it,' perhaps investing some small amount of time on a regular basis just to check your weightings and rebalance if necessary.

And that brings us full-circle. The picture I feature is not a stock photo of Positano. I took it myself. Yes, I enjoy investing. So much so that I write on the topic. But it is far from the only thing important to me in life. I very much value my time. Time to spend with friends and family. Time to enjoy places such as Positano. And yes, even time to devote to causes that are important to me, and from which I may reap no financial rewards but which may offer priceless rewards in other ways.

What would you like to do with your time? What is important to you? Whatever it is in your case, and we are all different, I respectfully submit that ETF investing can give you more of it. And that may not be a bad thing.

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