Is it Time to Tune Out?

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By Robert O. Graves, CFP®  CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™

I’m a tireless optimist, and these unsettling times have created a level of fear and pessimism that I’ve had difficulty witnessing.  As a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), all of my clients count on me to remain calm and objective despite what they’re reading on the internet, watching on MSNBC, and hearing from friends and family.  It’s been a challenge for even me to remain positive because of the near endless stream of negative news.

In order to remain level headed throughout this time, I’ve taken certain measures, and I recommended my clients to do the same.  It’s important to keep in mind that the broadcast business is a for-profit endeavor where their advertisers foot their expensive production costs.  In exchange, the broadcasters promise to keep viewers engaged.  How do they do this, when there are so many 24-hour news channels competing for a limited pool of viewers?

They usually tap into our fears.  And what is probably one of the greatest anxieties that any of us has?  Fear of the future.

Now take a global crisis of unprecedented magnitude and a broadcaster’s goal to make their advertisers happy, and you have the recipe for negative news.  This is precisely what I saw throughout the recession:  Which company will go bankrupt next?  Which industry will need a government bailout?  When will the stock market finally hit bottom?  I was astonished to see journalists and their talking head guests make predictions whose goal was to make viewers fearful.

My solution?  I stopped watching.  After all, do we really need to know, every minute of the day, the state of our country’s economy?

“But Bob, it’s your job to stay informed.  Your clients are counting on it,” you may insist, and I agree.

It doesn’t take long, however, to stay up-to-date.  In minutes I can read the paper or click through an on-line article.  I don’t have to watch TV all day, and neither do you.  Especially this time of year, spend time with family and friends…reflect with gratitude, be present in the moment and anticipate with hope.

Excerpt from Robert O. Graves book, Your Life Plan: A Guide to Financial Freedom.

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