The worst mistake I ever made in the stock market all started with the TV

It pays to turn it off.

I’ve been there before and it’s brutal. Omg I just heard a wild idea on TV. Buy, buy, buy. You need to get in this before everyone else does. Get to your computer right now man!

I once did that with Japanese banks. I thought I was going to be a master trader of Japan. The young guru. Being young and overconfident is an amazing thing. To this day I still literally know nothing about Japanese banks. But someone on one of those shows pitched the idea. It sounded crazy, but crazy enough to where maybe it was a slice of brilliance!

It did not go well.

It’s probably the worst single investment I’ve ever made. And this is coming from a guy who once tried to pick a reversal in the National Bank of Greece:

No big deal… here’s $NBG down 99% since 2014

Some of you have also probably been in a similar position. Especially in your very early days of investing. You hear an idea and it sounds like a pure money maker. Then you head to a computer, thinking you need to do this before everyone else does, like you can’t waste another second or you might miss it. A few days or weeks later, that idea you thought was pure gold has fallen apart like the Cleveland Browns.

Just press the like button already if that’s been you. No shame. It’s why a piece like this has to be published. It’s kind of surprising how few people comment or write about this for the sake of the average retail investor.

But why?

The thing with financial TV is they need to fill airspace at all times. No time can be boring and no time can be wasted. Time is money on TV. The content and ideas are not so much about quality research or trying to be good stewards for everyday investors, but instead about trying to pitch “can’t miss” stories and then selling ads based on the viewership those stories receive.

People always talk about fiduciary duty in financial markets. Meaning money managers, banks, and professional investors must act in good faith toward their clients. But the financial media is basically never held to those same standards. And that brings me to the following tweet that some investors might call a work of art. Like it’s The Last Supper for traders:

Are those the headlines you want to follow?

The thing about financial decisions, and especially trying to call tops or bottoms, is that it’s really hard to do. There’s a mind-boggling amount of randomness involved. And there are a lot of smart people out there taking the other side of your idea every single day.

While financial TV is trying to fill airtime, the reality is that good ideas and investments take time. I think the excerpt you’re about to read below does a great job explaining just how stressful, hard, and difficult it can be. The perfect investment decision is not a 30-second sound bite on your TV:

I’m still a mediocre investor. But I’m also crazy dedicated to the game. I keep reading, researching, and following markets. The growth has been slow, but I’m in it for the long-haul. A few big lessons have emerged over the years. One of them is this post, which seems simple in theory, but still many new investors fall victim to at some point.

If you’re new to markets and reading this, hopefully I just saved you a few dollars. If you’re a wise investor with hair flowing like Gandalf, hopefully we just shared a few laughs — don’t take financial advice from the TV.

If you can’t stand this post and want to argue, let’s hear it! Press the comment button below and let’s go.

If you want to see more like this, please drop me a note on Twitter (@scheplick), StockTwits (@scheplick), or right here on Medium Stefan Cheplick.