The stock market stumbled into April with four losses of more than 100 points on the Dow in the first two weeks. There's been enough bloodshed lately on Wall Street for a good episode of Game of Thrones. That level of drama might be good entertainment, but it can take a toll on your finances.
Here are some signs that your finances might be getting too much like an episode of Game of Thrones:
- The body count is rising. Many viewers were shocked -- spoiler alert for new viewers -- when Ned Stark was killed during the first season, but that was a clear signal that nobody is safe in this series. You might also be shocked at the number of losers in your portfolio after all the volatility lately, but now you need to do triage -- decide which ones are goners and need to be unloaded, and which are worth holding onto through the tough times.
- Things are getting a little confusing. Along with the bloodshed, Game of Thrones is known for its baffling plot twists and for introducing wave upon wave of new characters. It gets confusing, but it makes more sense if you focus on the big picture. When it comes to your investments, that means taking the long view rather than obsessing over every little development.
- The White Walkers have taken over. Are there zombie-like elements to your finances? These are investments or accounts that just plod along like the undead -- perhaps that certificate of deposit that you keep letting roll over at uncompetitive rates, or a checking account whose fees have been creeping up.
- Different factions are in conflict. There is no shortage of enemies in Game of Thrones, but even friends often seem to be at odds. If your portfolio seems to be working at a similar degree of cross-purposes, it may be a sign that you have not coordinated your asset allocation properly. Your investments should be a well-organized alliance, not random factions with mismatched agendas.
- Your dragons have not hatched. It took a great deal of faith for Daenerys Targaryen to nurture those dragon eggs all that time, waiting for them to hatch. If you have stocks that have stayed similarly inert for a long time, consistently failing to meet your expectations, perhaps the dragons may yet hatch, but in real life you might be better off getting rid of the dead weight.
- You don't know who to trust. People often meet in Game of Thrones with courtly welcomes, and then end up stabbing each other in the back. Remember that the next time you meet a friendly banker or broker. Being friendly is an important part of how they do their jobs, but the actual job is to make money at your expense.
- It all seems so arbitrary. The daily explanations of what just happened on Wall Street during volatile times can seem as far-fetched as the episode descriptions of Game of Thrones.
It would be nice if the stock market would settle down and leave the drama to HBO. Until then though, you need to summon all your patience, stamina and guile to get through the rough patches -- sort of like a character on Game of Thrones, or frankly, just a regular viewer of the series.