Recently on social media, I read for the first time the acronym FOMO. I didn’t know what a FOMO was, so I turned to Google.
It turns out FOMO is an acronym that stands for Fear Of Missing Out. The acronym FOMO is commonly used by kids afraid of missing a social event.
Adults suffer from FOMO, as well. Sometimes socially, but also financially.
When a sector in the economy gets hot, people call me wanting to get in. I usually try to talk people out of buying an investment after it has taken off. But I am not always successful.
It is the fear of missing out that causes a lot of bubbles. A few of the more recent bubbles have been technology, housing and gold.
Warren Buffett, with his usual wit, described why bubbles happen. Buffett attributed bubbles to jealousy. He said “(people see) the guy next door, who they know is dumber than they are, is getting rich and they aren’t.”
This Buffett quote is wonderfully accurate. People get incredibly frustrated when they see other people making money, especially when those people don’t seem any more special than they are.
So, people jump into investments after they have already risen so much. This coveting is a significant factor in the creation of bubbles.
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I missed a bubble once, but it was more circumstance than skill.
I moved back to Napa in June of 2005 after finishing college. I recently married with one child on the way and wasn’t making much money. At that time, the California real estate market was booming and I was very much priced out.
For the next couple of years, I watched with frustration as the housing market kept climbing. I heard my friends and family gleefully talk about the heaps of home equity growth they were experiencing. I was jealous and it hurt. I was missing out on this colossal wealth creator.
With more frustration than patience, I kept working and saving. Before long, something happened that few people imagined. The housing market blew up, and prices plummeted. I was able to buy at a considerable discount and was ultimately grateful I missed the bubble. I didn’t outsmart the housing market; I couldn’t afford to get in. If I could have, I probably would have bought at the top of the market as many others did. After it popped, I was supremely grateful.
Some of the talking heads on television are now using words like “bubble” and “recession” when describing our current economy. No one knows for sure what the future holds.
If you are frustrated with high housing prices or how much the stock market has grown, don’t beat yourself up and don’t get too jealous of the guy bragging at the barbecue.
Most importantly, don’t allow that fear of missing out to trigger a decision to jump into an investment that has already experienced tremendous growth.
Cycles will continue to cycle, and those things that have grown will either come down or stay flat long enough to allow you to catch up.