Your Survival Guy and Gal saw Luke Combs on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The song I can’t get out of my head is “Back 40 Back.” Combs didn’t play it (it’s not the song to keep a stadium on its feet), but it’s a reminder of the way life used to be—when there was a back 40 of land or open space that has too often now been replaced by a concrete jungle.
I’ve been thinking about when I was a kid, going to Fenway Park to see Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, Carl Yastrzemski, and Fred Lynn. The old Boston Garden, where you could hear and smell the game. Memories of seeing the Bruins with my dad—always on my team. Both Fenway Park and the New Garden are different experiences today thanks (or not) to progress.
I’ll never forget the sound in my dad’s voice when I told him I got a much sought-after internship at a startup company the summer of my junior year at Babson. He was so proud. That summer, I learned how to show up at 6:20 am, make coffee and pick up lunch. But it was the equivalent of a real-life Netflix documentary of how a startup works—raising money, bringing the business plan to life—understanding what it means to be a productive person, a businessman, a prudent man.
Ah, the prudent man, an 1830 Massachusetts court formulation in Harvard College v. Amory. Written by Massachusetts Justice Samuel Putnam (1768-1853), it directs trustees “to observe how men of prudence, direction and intelligence manage their own affairs, not in regard to speculation, but in regard to the permanent disposition of their funds, considering the probable income, as well as the probable safety of the capital to be invested.” (Your Survival Guy’s emphasis).
In my conversations with you, you tell me about the first dollar you ever made. The five bucks you made as a caddy on your first loop. The babysitting jobs. Working to get through school. Not going to school but learning how to raise your family. “Do we have enough to put milk in the Cheerios?” you wondered.
And here you are today with more money than you ever imagined you would have. And there are thousands upon thousands of investment products to choose from. But have they made investors “smarter,” more “efficient,” more “successful,” or more “prudent”?
Action Line: Imagine you’re in your car in downtown Boston, stopped at a busy intersection. Across the street, you see him, the father of the prudent man, Mr. Putnam. He looks like Abe Lincoln, standing there observing a world he’s no longer familiar with. Then you see it. The moment it hits him, and he realizes where he is. “Hmmm,” he thinks to himself as he turns and walks the other way. Calm. Not changing a bit, just wondering where the back 40 went. Because progress never changes The Prudent Man.
Read every one of the Investing Mistakes to Avoid here.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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