Why You Should Stop Reading About Facebook Right Now


"Good investment decisions can only be made in the perspective of something larger. ... We all want to take a plane, train, or automobile, but we have no idea where we're going."
-- Carl Richards

I totally get it. Facebook (NAS: FB) is easy to talk about. It's fun to talk about. Among finance and investing topics, it's one that an unusually high percentage of average Joes and Janes feel comfortable talking about. After all, who doesn't know about Facebook at this point?

But the problem is that for most people, it doesn't make any sense for them to be talking about Facebook as an investment. Facebook and its raucous IPO haven't just been a distraction, they've been a dangerous distraction. As I pointed out in The Motley Fool's special report on financial advisors, most people are still at Square One when it comes to saving for retirement:

According to research from industry watchdog FINRA, overlooking planning isn't unusual. Among non-retired households, 58% haven't tried to figure out what they need to save for retirement.

That is scary.

The problem is that -- as Carl Richards wisely points out -- investors aren't taking the time to figure out the answers to important questions like:

  • What do I want my retirement to look like?

  • How much do I need saved for that retirement?

  • What level of investment risk am I comfortable with?

  • Based on number of years before retirement, what should my asset allocation be?

Instead, they're busy debating whether they should be buying the Facebook IPO or if Apple (NAS: AAPL) will hit $1,000. With no context of a broader portfolio and asset allocation, an investment in Facebook, Apple, or frozen concentrated orange juice futures makes no sense.

So seriously, if you don't have the big investment questions answered yet, take a deep breath, close this window and any other Facebook-related windows, and put your stock-buying decisions on hold until the important work is done.

And if you are considering outside help from a financial advisor, be sure to check out The Motley Fool's special report on advisors to learn what to look for and what to avoid in the sometimes-wild world of financial advice.

At the time thisarticle was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Facebook and Apple.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Apple.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.Fool contributorMatt Koppenhefferhas no financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting hisCAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter,@KoppTheFool, or onFacebook. The Fool'sdisclosure policyprefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye.

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