In front of our home is a large elevated planter. We have struggled for some time in our attempts to have a beautiful focal point but without creating too much ongoing maintenance.
Jaimee, one of our artistic daughters, recently created a landscape design that was both beautiful and low maintenance. She incorporated some large boulders, gravel rock beds, and a few easy to care for plants.
We took her design to a landscaper who offered to do the work for a few thousand dollars. We were then faced with one of those common decisions. Should we just do it ourselves and save some money, or pay someone else? Launa and I have always been pretty careful with money and we were both raised to love work, so we made the decision to do this on our own, with the help of some strong boys. After all, we own a vacant lot with some beautiful boulders on it and we have a pickup truck. How hard could it be?
Well, today we have a finished, low maintenance planter, just as Jaimee designed it, complete with some great boulders and beautiful plants. We couldn’t be happier with it. As for the work of shoveling two tons of gravel and moving several (much heavier than they looked) boulders, let’s just say the landscaper’s bid seems much more reasonable now.
A magazine article recently suggested that investors could save money by just purchasing a bucket of low cost index funds, thus eliminating any management fees. Such an approach reminded me of my planter. An index fund, to an investor, is basically a bucket of unmanaged positions. Similar to the raw materials required to assemble a proper planter box garden, a portfolio of index funds still needs someone to assemble and manage it. The investor will either need to pay someone to do that, or put in the time and effort to do it themselves.
Saving money can be a good idea, but only if we truly are saving money in the long run. I have often said, when it comes to investing, that the biggest cost most investors pay is the cost of mistakes. We have the option to mow our own lawns, make our own dinners, paint our own homes and even represent ourselves in a court of law, or we can hire professionals to do these things for us. Labor is never free but rather a choice between paying someone else or effectively paying ourselves to do the job.
To assume investing in products that don’t carry management fees is inherently better, is to forget that all investments need to be managed by someone. The real question is the same one I faced with my planter box. Do I want to do this myself, and am I qualified to do it, or is it better to pay a professional? The jury is still out on whether I made the correct decision with my planter. I will let you know after I visit another professional – Justin - my Chiropractor.
Hi, I'm Dan. I'm a CFP® Professional.
Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®.
Member www.finra.org / www.sipc.org , a Registered Investment Advisor. Wyson Financial, 1173 S. 250 W. Suite 505, St. George, UT 84770.
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