The last business day of the year is a time for taking stock of our successes and mistakes.
Forecasters have run out of days in 2016 to affect annual results.
I am waiting for the closes of gold and silver so I can see just how far off my thoughts of 12 months ago were.
Every year I write a column in Numismatic News making forecasts and another one to tally up the results of the year before.
The exercise is fun. It is interesting. But most of all it makes a case for humility.
It would be nice to be able to buy silver precisely at each bottom and then sell it at each top.
But human fallibility means it is not possible.
The same is true for gold, rare coins and other things from which buyers hope to extract profits some day.
Remember, though, that fallibility does not mean stupid.
It simply means that the time-tested rules of thumb are all the more important to adopt.
At the top of that list of rules is to keep to the 10 percent of investable funds guideline for precious metals.
Gold and silver have gone up this year.
Is the value of your combined holdings of the two metals now breaching the 10 percent mark?
Then it might be time to watch out for your personal requirements and sell enough to reach the desired percentage.
Alternatively, have your profits in other things like stocks, or additional savings, or even an inheritance pulled your gold and silver holdings below 10 percent?
Then it is time to buy more of the precious metals.
This is not a matter of the impersonal market, but your hugely personal financial well being.
Don’t forget that you can have fun as well.
For coin collectors, following gold and silver prices goes with the territory. I have done it for many years.
There is no stronger indicator of how cheap silver once was than when I look at the Maria Theresa thaler that I bought in 1967.
I have it in the same cardboard 2x2 I bought it in. The marked price is $1.95.
Silver melt value of the coin today is $12.07.
That is 6.19 times what I paid.
This is an easy personal reminder that silver tends to rise in value over time, but it is not a source of instant riches.
The end of the year is also a time to remember a little humility.
I once thought I was smart enough to make money in silver futures.
The best decision I ever made was to realize this and stop trying to guess silver price fluctuations minute to minute.
So take stock of your decisions of 2016.
Repeat the smart ones.
Stop doing the dumb ones.
Enjoy your life.
Happy New Year.