Unbundle To Bundle

June of this year marked the 9-year anniversary of my family buying and moving into this home.  The closing went smoothly and the move went off without a hitch.  Other than my brother and myself spending two hours trying to reassemble my daughter’s crib, with no instructions, it was a pretty charmed day.  That was until I had to get the cable and internet switched over.  It was a phone call, which then led to a service appointment, which led to me being stood up and losing my mind as I paced back and forth during my 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm window.  All told, it took me longer to get the internet set up than it did the crib, the closing and the move combined.  In retaliation and protest, we decided to  “cut the cord” and ditched cable all together!  Our journey of unbundling began so instead of paying $170/month, we would pay $0 for Netflix, since it was a gift from my sister, $55/month for the internet and get a few channels with a $20 HD antenna.  This lasted for a long while until one year, the summer Olympics was starting and that was a must see for my wife.  So we signed up for YouTube TV, and we had also started watching stuff on Amazon Prime.  Fast forward to today and our genius move of “unbundling” has led to YouTube TV, Disney Plus, Netflix (still free, thanks Sis), Amazon, Paramount Plus for a stint, Apple TV, Hulu (we think we want to watch with no commercials) and the list goes on.  I wish someone would just bundle these up for me and save me some time/money 🙂 This June also marked 18 years since I started down this path of being in business for myself as a Financial Planner.  Decades before I entered the business, the main product was selling individual stocks.  Those were the stockbroker days and over time, probably as clients soured over losing money over the “the next hot thing,” mutual funds became popular.  The mutual fund basically said you don’t need to pick individual companies, we will do that for you and bundle up all these stocks together.  With this approach, instead of paying an exorbitant commission every time you bought or sold your stock, you could buy one fund and pay one time.  This new approach paved the way for Index Funds.  The index fund said: why pay someone to try and pick the best companies and pay a big one time fee, when you can just own the whole market of stocks and pay a smaller fee?   This led to Exchange Traded Funds, and if we fast forward to today, the new craze is what is called “direct indexing.”  In direct indexing, you unbundle your pre-packaged fund and get back to picking the stocks, sectors or themes you want and are essentially one step from owning the same 10 stocks the broker was pitching 50 years ago.  In my opinion, the person who benefits the most from this is the marketing guru who came up with the fancy new name and orchestrated the ideal way to start marketing this new “revolutionary” approach to investing.  This is apparently what we do.  We unbundle to bundle.  The hope is that with every iteration or cycle of this process, some progress and innovation is made.  The product/service gets better even if it ultimately ends up looking like something very close to its original form.  I pick on direct indexing, yet it is still wildly less expensive than the commissions of the broker days.  I pick on my anthology of streaming services, yet I still have way more control over my viewing/cost than the alternative of 15 years ago.  It is our job as consumers, clients and advisors to weigh the benefits and conveniences of every new version and to revisit this decision frequently.  Like many things, as your life changes and the amount of time you have to yourself ebbs and flows, so will your needs and expectations of your bundle. Happy Bundling…or unbundling….regardless, Happy Friday!