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Going on a Financial Media Fast

Last weekend, I read Carl Richards’ new book The Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things with Money. (Full disclosure: The publisher sent me a free copy.)

In case you aren’t familiar: Carl is a CFP who has become rather well known for his clever sharpie drawings explaining personal finance topics — you can see his full gallery here — and for his recent controversial New York Times article, “How a Financial Pro Lost His House.”

But the reason I’m mentioning the book has nothing to do with the sketches or with that article. Rather, I want to share a passage I enjoyed. In the chapter “Too Much Information,” Carl writes:

“Monitoring market moves, watching stock market shows on CNBC, and poring over financial forecasts takes a lot of time. Worse, it makes people anxious — and anxious people often screw up. […] Try going on a media fast. When thoughts about the markets arise, let them go. Go for a bike ride.


I know this may seem like a scary idea. And for the record, I don’t support sticking your head in the sand. I just think you need to balance your money anxieties with perspective.”

The suggestion to block out market news is the primary idea I was trying to communicate when I started this blog — hence the name and the logo.

Of course, in the three years since this blog was started, it’s branched out to cover a broader range of topics. But I still think the idea is a good one. I think most investors would benefit from scaling back their intake of financial news.

What do you think? Would you be willing to try it? How about a complete financial media fast between now and the beginning of next year?

(This blog will still be here when you get back.)

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  1. Mike, it’s great advice. I do try to ignore financial news about the latest market movements as much as possible, and I’m often a month or two behind on market news. I was annoyed with Bogleheads in August when the market was tanking. I wouldn’t have even known it probably if there weren’t so many threads about it. But when you talk about a financial media fast, I don’t think your blog needs to be included. You are talking about general investing issues without concern about recent market movements, which is great.

  2. I used to listen to everything I could. Well I stopped 6 months ago and now I only listen to Kai on NPR (I believe its call ‘money talks’). A great 30 minute program on finance and economics without the feeling that the market will implode at any moment if I stop watching.

    Life is simpler.

  3. After reading a couple of books by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Fooled By Randomness, and The Black Swan, I feel pretty well inoculated against financial news. I sort of peruse it, but it doesn’t make an emotional connection. It’s pretty clear that it’s pretty much all crap.

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