The Power of “Some”

When it comes to making decisions about money, it’s tempting to think of things in terms of black or white. All or nothing. Yes I will, or no I won’t.

Using the word “some” can often help you make better decisions and take actions that you might not otherwise take. It’s a lot easier to dip your toes into something than to bet the farm.

How can this be helpful? Ultimately, you can manage risk and get a better idea of whether or not you’re on the right path. Let’s see how it might work.

You may have a sum of money available, and wonder if you should invest that money in mutual funds, or leave it in the bank (or, conversely, maybe you’re currently invested, and you wonder if you should pull it out of the markets and stick it in the bank where it’s safe). That’s a big decision, and not an easy one. You have to pick the “correct” answer, and it’s not going to be fun if you pick wrong. However, there’s often another choice that rarely comes to mind: do something with some of the money.

How Some Works

If you invest just some, you can do other things with the rest of it. Or you can decide to invest some more later. Doesn’t that feel nice?

If you’re struggling with a decision about investing, it’s probably something you want to do, and if you’ve put much thought into it, you probably have an idea of whether or not you should invest. Let’s assume for now that you should in fact invest (that you’re willing to take the risks that come along with investing, that you don’t need the money for at least several years, and that you want the potential for higher returns). At this point, your question may really be about timing, and not about what to do. You’re not saying “should I invest?” but rather “is this the right time to invest?”

You’re never going to know the answer to that question. So, the next best thing is to try not to invest at the absolute worst time – or at least try not to invest everything at the worst possible time. And that’s where some comes in. You can invest a portion of your savings and begin moving towards what you thought you should do (or, again, the opposite could be true: perhaps you want to take some of your money out of the markets and take some risk off the table). It’s up to you to decide how much, and that’s easy to figure out: pick an amount that is comfortable for you. Use an amount that makes sense. How much can you afford to lose (or not)?

By getting started with some, you can often get a better feel for whether or not you’re doing the right thing. Sometimes the idea of taking action is intimidating, and actually doing it can give you valuable information: either you made a mistake and you need to undo it, or it wasn’t so bad after all. It also paints a richer picture of what you’re doing: instead of focusing on the yes/no decision, you get a better handle on the intricacies of what you’re doing.

The some strategy isn’t perfect. It can’t prevent you from losing money. If things go badly, hopefully they’ll be a little less bad, but using some means you have to take some risk (either you put some money into the markets, or you left some there and wish you hadn’t). Ultimately, it’s just a way to help you manage risk – if you can afford to take risk at all, that is. You’ll have to decide if it even makes sense to do some.

The Power of Some in Everyday Life

You can use this strategy elsewhere in your life, but in some situations, some is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to commit, and a half-hearted approach will inevitably lead to failure. For example, sometimes it’s just fine to start a business on the side while keeping the security of your day job. However, other businesses might require 110% up front (businesses that require large up-front and/or ongoing investments come to mind – you really want to earn income to cover those expenses).

What are some good ways to use the power of some?

  • Save an extra $10 or $20 per month
  • Eat out less often — pack a lunch once per week (then try twice per week)
  • Pay a little bit extra on your loan payments (you don’t necessarily have to double your payments)
  • Exercise (take a walk) for 10 minutes, or add 10 minutes to your existing routine. You don’t have to run a marathon
  • Eat a piece of fruit or a vegetable if you haven’t already today (you can still have the tater tots, but you might not want as many as you would otherwise eat)

Once you start doing something, you may find that you like how it feels and you like the results. After that, you might even do some more. Just starting is the hardest part and the most important thing you can do.