Money is everywhere these days. In the last few years, personal finance topics have become big news — and big business. Technology has increased the possibilities for earning money, as well as provided a way for almost everyone to participate in the stock market. As more people have access to more money possibilities, media outlets have rushed in to provide advice.

Of course, the problem with advice and money facts is that these things are boring. No one wants to hear about how sticking with your plan can help you reach your financial goals. It’s more exciting to devote time focusing on the latest flash crash. And how you need to get out of the stock market now. NOW!

But are you doing yourself more harm than good when you pay too much attention to financial media?

Trading the Long Term for Immediacy

One of the reasons it’s so easy to get caught up in the extreme positions espoused in the financial media is due to the immediacy of the situation. When you look at many investments over a few days, there is volatility. Whether the forex market is showing a dramatic drop in the euro after news of sovereign debt comes out, bond yields are rising steeply as investors freak out about risk, or the stock market is plunging as oil prices rise, what is happening in the moment seems like big news.

However, when you look at things over the long term, the story changes. Look at trends over the course of a decade or two, and the lines smooth out a bit, giving you a feel for overall long-term trends. If you have the big picture in mind, it is a little bit easier to avoid the noise of screaming “experts” and stick to your investment plan.

Protecting Your Assets

This doesn’t mean, of course, that you shouldn’t pay attention to what is going on with your investment portfolio. You just don’t need to look at it every single day. It is important to evaluate your investments regularly in order to see whether your portfolio is still meeting your needs. You need to assess your risk tolerance and figure out what to do next. It is also important to figure out whether or not to get rid of some investments. But don’t do it because some guy on TV is punching a button and screaming, “Sell! Sell!”

Do it because it makes sense for you. What has changed about your financial position or the investment. Is something fundamentally different about the way the investment is performing? Are you concerned about management changes or a falling profit margin? You can also look at your own situation. Do you have a little more risk tolerance to allow you to experiment with a little more growth? Carefully consider what you want to accomplish, and then make moves accordingly.

It can be hard to avoid the noise. Especially since you can see financial media everywhere these days. But, as long as you keep a cool head and remember that you have a long-term plan, you should be able to come through almost any “crisis” relatively unscathed — or at least in a position to rebuild.
This post was included in the Best of Credit Cards and Money Carnival