The bull market has lasted almost nine-and-a-half years and with continued strong economic data and solid corporate earnings it should continue to race on. The bull market has lasted almost nine-and-a-half years, but with rising inflation, full employment and a Fed tinkering with interest rates it is sure to stumble. Versions of both of these sentences have appeared in financial publications. Which do you believe? Well, that’s your opinion.    

Faster than we can say bull market, most of us jump from facts to opinions, with a dose of inference in between. And if we aren’t aware of it, that’s a real problem. Well, at least that’s my opinion.

Here is why being unaware of facts vs. opinions leads to problems. We tend to act on what we believe. Once we believe something, it becomes difficult to dislodge that belief and we look for ways to confirm our opinions. Unless someone we trust plays a critical devil’s advocate role, we can’t see our own blind spots.

Let’s take real estate. I wrote a piece in February that the new tax laws and rising interest rates make owning a home more expensive. That can’t be disputed. I went on to infer that those costs make homeownership less attractive and renting more viable. Judging from what I heard in the comments section, it was several people’s opinion that I was an idiot. Even if this is widely believed, my being an idiot is only an opinion. But ignoring the facts of increasing housing costs, in my opinion, is especially dangerous for those planning to buy a home and live in it for a short time.

Couples don’t get into money fights over what they spend each month. What is spent in any month is a fact. People get into fights over where they believe that spending will lead them or what that spending says about one person in the opinion of the other.

One reason to keep track of spending is to have discussions around whether you are spending in ways that are consistent with your stated values. But your values are often your opinions of how you believe you should show up in the world; your partner may have similar, but not identical values. Conflict occurs because of the opinions mismatch.

Clients often come into our office wielding spreadsheets to show how much their partner spends, inferring that, in their opinion, they aren’t saving enough. Enough for what? Until that is better understood and agreed upon by both parties, it is simply a disagreement of contrasting opinions.

The facts around money are pretty simple, it’s our opinions that are more complicated.

Spend your life wisely.

 

Ross Levin is the chief executive and founder of Accredited Investors Wealth Management in Edina