LATE LAST YEAR, I described how Bill Gates used to take time out from his job running Microsoft to seclude himself for “think weeks.” For better or worse, many of us today are finding ourselves stuck inside, with more time on our hands than usual. If you’re growing weary of the endless news cycle, below are some ideas to help you make the most of this time.
Looking to build your personal finance knowledge? I can’t think of a more pertinent topic than risk management. Three books stand out:
While this book is nearly 20 years old, the topic is timely. Recently, we have seen the U.S. stock market exhibit daily moves in excess of seven standard deviations. According to statistics textbooks, such moves should occur about once every billion years—and yet we’ve seen them happen four times in the past 10 days.
If you’d like to take some time to review and organize your financial life, here are some ideas:
If you’re feeling conflicted—wanting to be opportunistic while the stock market is “on sale” but also worried that it could go lower—I recommend a short article titled Reinvesting When Terrified by veteran investor Jeremy Grantham. This was written on March 10, 2009, just as the market was hitting bottom, though Grantham didn’t know it at the time. There’s a lot of wisdom in there that’s equally applicable to today, including this important truism: “Be aware that the stock market does not turn when it sees light at the end of the tunnel. It turns when all looks black, but just a shade less black than the day before.”
Looking to teach your children about finances? I recommend reading The Richest Man in Babylon with them. Its folksy tone belies its valuable message. It’s appropriate for kids of virtually any age.
If you’re looking to truly embrace Bill Gates’s concept of the “think week,” the following sites offer collections of thoughtful essays and papers—some finance-related, some not: Farnam Street, James Clear, Marginal Revolution and The Range Report.
If you’re tired of thinking about money and finances, a great online resource is Masterclass. For $180 per year, you’ll gain access to 80 different online courses. Learn about comedy from Steve Martin, writing from Malcolm Gladwell or tennis from Serena Williams.
Going stir crazy and looking for ways to get outside, if only virtually? You can visit the following great institutions from your laptop:
Also, Billboard magazine is compiling a running list of performances available online.
Adam M. Grossman’s previous articles include Harder Than It Looks, Manic Meets Math and What Should I Do. Adam is the founder of Mayport Wealth Management, a fixed-fee financial planning firm in Boston. He’s an advocate of evidence-based investing and is on a mission to lower the cost of investment advice for consumers. Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamMGrossman.