By Jessica Lanning, JD, CFP®


I thought weeding was the lowest of all tasks, yet I was, relegated to pulling weeds. 

I’ve never been one for yard work.  A city kid to the core, I love that great swaths of concrete and rock gardens free me to do other things with my time.  

But I’m helping my 80-year-old friend get some things done around her house.  Maintaining the yard is one of them.  

She has a neighbor that sporadically helps.  Said neighbor, a self-identified expert horticulturist, deduced I knew nothing about plants within 30 seconds of meeting me.  

“You,” he directs, “should pull all these grass-like things, particularly the ones with seed pods at the top.  We don’t want them growing back.”  

I hid my doubt and disdain but knew he wasn’t wrong.  Although a lame substitute for skiing, I told myself it was good exercise and outdoor time.  

I have a license to rip out all grasses and put them in the green bin.  Mass murders by the handful are welcomed, celebrated even.  


Investments Require Weeding Too

“Weeding” is what I ask my money managers to do.  It’s an invaluable task that I appreciate daily.

Despite the rise and popularity of index investing — that is, owning all the stocks represented by an index, like the S&P500 — that doesn’t mean it’s not without its drawbacks.  

At any given moment, the S&P500 or any index has weeds.  Lots of them.   They are not worth owning. 

Any money manager worth their salt will tell you the same.  It makes no sense to own junk when the same money can be redirected to own something that might make money.   


Some “Weeds” Are Worth Keeping

Fun fact:   The Calla Lily, with its beautiful white and yellow blooms and broad leaves made famous in Diego Rivera’s paintings, is classified as a weed in many places.  Where I live in California, we love their beauty and keep them around purposefully. 

The same goes for investing.  Some stocks or bonds grow like crazy and may very well be a weed worth keeping so long as they’re kept an eye on.  They can add good value to a portfolio, at least temporarily.

Seemingly unwanted investment weeds — like a stock losing money or not providing any balance to a portfolio — can also be valuable at the right time.  Investment weeds can be sold at a loss to balance the gain of harvesting a beautiful flower.  


The Weeding Never Ends

Even with all my hours of weeding, the weeds came back.  Perhaps fewer of them, but still taking up space, threatening to multiply.  I have forearm tendonitis to prove it. 

The same goes for investments.  Regular reviews of what you own reveal where the weeds are hanging out and what should be plucked now or later to make room for things that will grow if given the space and resources.

People disagree on how often one should review a portfolio.  Those of you who are active watchers/investors probably have your rhythm.  My more passive investors probably need to do at least an annual, if not semi-annual, review.


Keeping Your Garden Healthy and Weed-Free

Part of being successful financially is keeping track of your investments, ensuring you’re still on your way, weeding, and making mid-flight corrections.  You can do this on your own. 

A good money manager will also do this for you — pick the plants, pluck the weeds, keep everything as healthy as possible, and optimize timing on sales to take advantage of losses and gains and minimize taxes. 

I’m the first to admit that I’m not great with plants.  I can keep kids, dogs, cats, and pets alive without much effort.  Leave your plants with me, and I make no promises. Succulents manage to eke out an existence.  

This is why I hire professional money managers for my clients.  This allows me to amass the investment brain trust of any significant competitor.  This means more reliable growth and fewer weeds.  

And I can concentrate on planning issues – productive plants and flowers, if you will – like taxes, insurance, estate planning, retirement planning, education planning, etc.  

The result?  A healthy financial plan with fewer investment weeds.

Please reach out if you want to learn more about weeding out your investment weeds.


About the Author:

Jessica Lanning JD, CFP® brings focus and perspective to your individual financial needs to identify your opportunities for investment and wealth. Regardless of what you’ve done before or what “mistakes” you think you’ve made, Jessica can help get you back on track quickly and safely. As a former practicing lawyer, she brings a comprehensive approach to legal, tax, and financial challenges so that her clients can enjoy peace of mind. A huge proponent of conscious decision-making, Jessica makes sure her clients are educated and informed so that they make sound decisions with clarity and confidence. 


Lanning Financial Inc. is a registered investment adviser. The information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. Investments involve risk and unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance.

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