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  • Writer's pictureMeredith Schneider, CFP®

Investing - Not a Long Walk to Water

Updated: Jun 25, 2019

Just finished reading A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. The novel follows the journey of two children, a boy and girl, living in Sudan during and following war torn years. The boy’s story is based in fact, and the girl’s story is fiction. When reading about the journey of the boy Salva striving to escape the war in his homeland by himself, I was struck by the behavior of some women towards him in one scene and how such actions illuminates that sometimes fear drives decisions that one would not necessarily make if not for the fear.

After escaping an attack on his village and subsequently finding himself all alone, 11 year old Salva attempts to figure out what to do. He soon joins with people he does not know but like him are also fleeing the violence. One night he lays down to sleep near a group of women. When he awakes the next morning, he finds himself completely alone again.

“Even before he was fully awake, Salva could feel that something was wrong. He lay very still with his eyes closed, trying got sense what it might be.”

“Finally, he sat up and opened his eyes.”

“No one else was in the barn.”

“He rushed to the door and looked out.”

“Nobody. Nothing.”

“They had left him.”

“He was alone.”

The women, fearful that a young child might slow down their escape, left him all alone.

When reading about Salva’s experience waking up alone, I found myself both shocked at the women’s leaving a boy on his own but also understanding their decision driven by fear for their own lives.

Fortunately, most people reading this will likely never encounter such a situation to find out what they might actually do when faced with such a choice, but I found myself considering how fear can drive other decisions in life.

Sometimes fear is helpful, but sometimes, as in the case of investing, fear is not helpful.

With the recent pullback in equity values over the last week, I can imagine that some investors might feel fear. It is natural to fear a further decline in value in one’s investments particularly in light of the length of the bull market, rising interest rates, trade wars and other factors. However, when experiencing fear relative to investments, it is important to remember your original objectives and that no one has ever been able to consistently time the market twice: when to sell and when to buy back in. It would be great if one could do that, but attempts to do so so can often lead to disaster. Experiencing fear is natural and understandable. During those times, as hard as it is, remember that fear does not help with your investments and can in fact influence to your detriment.


Meredith Schneider, CFP® is a Palo Alto & Redwood Shores, CA fee-only financial planner. Schneider Wealth Management provides financial planning and investment management to help technology executive, engineer, and attorney clients plan for financial independence and spend more time doing what they love to do. Schneider Wealth Management serves clients as a fiduciary and never earns a commission from an investment or insurance recommendation. While the majority of Schneider Wealth Management’s clients live and work on the San Francisco Peninsula, through technology tools such as online conferences, the firm is able to serve clients worldwide.


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