Morgan Housel on the Biggest Returns

In an article for The Collaborative Fund, Morgan Housel draws a parallel between the energy industry and investing through a discussion of how conservation and efficiency in the former has increased over the past 40 years.

Housel notes that today, the U.S. uses 60% less energy per dollar of GDP than it did in 1950. He points out that those factors that are largely in our control, like efficiency, “can make the biggest difference over time.” The impact of conservation and efficiency, he writes, can surpass what has been done in other parts of the energy industry.

Personal savings and frugality, Housel explains, are “finance’s conservation and efficiency.” They are largely in our control, he adds, and “have a 100% chance at being as effective in the future as they are today. So, which should you pay more attention to?”

Housel continues the discussion by highlighting the importance of finding balance between lifestyle needs and spending. “Investing alpha is hard and often fleeting, but the lifestyle version is more in your control and permanent,” he writes, citing the example of Warren Buffett, who lives in the same house he bought in his 20s.

Housel concludes, “the idea that there are two ways to improve your financial wellbeing, and one is more in your control with higher odds of success than the other, is as overlooked in finance as it has been with energy.”