When Simple Is Better

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More and more, I’m learning that simple solutions to seemingly complex problems are better and more effective. And often times the simple solution is overlooked because we may think to ourselves, it can’t be that easy. Oh but more often than not it is which is refreshing.


In Personal Finance, when you have fewer investments, you can monitor them carefully. When you’re invested in a bunch of individual securities or funds, after a while, it may not be worth all the time you are spending and may decide to hire a professional to manage your money. You’ve abandoned the simple approach and it may or may not result in better returns.


I’d like to share with you a couple of examples in which a problem or situation arose, and a complex approach was initially considered or even taken. But as it turns out, the simple solution was better simply because it worked.



Sink Handle Stuck


Recently the sink in our main level bathroom was not working that well. The handlebar for the cold water was very hard to open and close. I had to help my son each time in the bathroom to turn the water on and off while he washed his hands. I contacted a contractor I know to come out and take a look at it and possibly replace it. He said he won’t be able to come for a couple of weeks because he got injured on another job.


I thought to myself, why not just take it apart a bit and see if I can fix it myself. So, I turned off the water line, disconnected the hose that routes to the sink and looked for rust. I didn’t see much; then I thought I should take the handle parts apart some more.


I used my phones flashlight and was checking out every which angle of the whole contraption to see where the problem may lie.


But after a couple of minutes, I stopped, went back to the garage, grabbed a can of trusty WD-40 and started spraying the inner part of the handle. I didn’t know where I was spraying; just that I was moving the can and long red tip around inside to make sure the whole inner part became lubricated.


I opened and closed the handle a few times and it started to become loose. I sprayed and worked the handle a couple more times and it was working better each time.


I connected everything back up, turned the line on and cleaned up the excess water on the floor.


From beginning to end, it took less than 30 minutes and now the sink works great.


Application to Personal Finance:  If you’re just starting out in personal finance, investing, saving, etc. you may not need to hire a professional. You may be better off taking the DIY approach and learning.


There are tons of books, videos, and other media out there that simply explain the process of buying and selling investments and managing your finances overall.


Financial Tools, websites, books and other media that I particularly like can be found on the SMM Recommendations page.



Eye Doctor Visit


A few months back I was experiencing eye pain. It turns out there was an abrasion in my cornea, which if you Google it can be very painful. It was discovered by a world-renowned Eye Institute. They provided ointment to keep the eye lubricated but it didn’t work that well.


I spent over $200 in copays over several visits and was still experiencing pain from time to time. On top of that each time I saw a different doctor because of their specific schedules and had to re-explain what was going on with me and what I had been doing to manage my situation.


So then I decided to get a second opinion from a family ophthalmologist. This guy has been in practice for decades, has a very basic office, keeps paper records of all of his patients, has only one exam room, and has great reviews from my friends and family.


Two visits did the trick. His thought process was completely different out of the box and never mentioned by the “fancy doctors” at the eye institute.  I can attribute it to his years of experience and variety of patients he must have treated.


He provided a contact lens to serve as a shield or barrier between my cornea and my eyelid to cover the abrasion and ultimately suppress the pain. As soon as I put the lens on, I immediately felt relief. He said he could tell how much pain I was in the moment he saw me and his priority was to “help” me; a kind of human touch or element never mentioned by the fancy eye institute I visited previously.


Over the next couple of weeks, my cornea was healing with the continued help of eye ointment and lubrication. In my follow-up visit, I thanked him and he said it is almost healed. Thanks to him, I haven’t had the excruciating pain since, although I do feel a little discomfort from time to time, my research has shown that to be normal. The best thing to do is keep my eye properly lubricated as often as I can.


Application to Personal Finance: We may think that fancy degrees from business schools and a reputable name translate to higher returns. This is usually the case with managed mutual funds. But as it has been proven, simple ETFs and index funds provide greater returns with lower fees and sometimes even lower risk.


Billions of dollars are being outflowed from active funds and going into passively managed funds. You don’t have to deal with an advisor, you don’t have to worry about fees, and you don’t have to guess what securities the fund has in its portfolio. Ultimately this makes your decision-making process all the simpler.


Simple things in life lead to a better life. You have less stress, become healthier, experience deeper relationships with friends and family, and review many challenges in life with a simpler perspective.



Join The Discussion:

  1. Have you opted for a simpler approach in an aspect of life and found it to be more effective?
  2. Have you experienced a loss due to a complex situation that could have been avoided?




I use Personal Capital because (1) it’s free, (2) it tracks all of my accounts and overall net worth, (3) my account balances automatically update, (4) it shows how my investments are diversified and allocated in various sectors, and (5) can use built-in tools like “Investment Checkup” to get….wait for it…free personalized advice!