When I was a teenager just getting out of High School I had my first introduction to investing. It was from a preacher who was trying to get my Dad involved in a company called A L Williams. At that time (33 years ago give or take) the product being sold was some sort of savings or investment product. Maybe an annuity, but I really don’t remember for sure. Anyway, what I do remember was a breakdown sheet the salesman showed my dad and me. I found it really mesmerizing as it showed how, through compounding, a person could invest $2000 at age 18 and at age 19, let it stay there in whatever product they were selling, compounding year by year, and when you reach the age of 60 you would have over $1,000,000 to retire on. I was VERY impressed because no one had ever taught me what compounding could do.
But, did I do anything with this info? Did I start investing immediately? Have I since piled up a huge retirement???? Well…..NO! I never learned to be disciplined. I never learned to overcome my fears, and countless other reasons. Long-story-short, I have worked hard all of my life and here I am at 50 (soon to be 51) years of age with nothing to retire on in a few years.
Why did this happen to me? Why does this happen to so many people? How can this be fixed? Those are the questions I hope to address in this blog.
The first 2 questions I am going to attempt to answer together. Keep in mind that my answer is based in my experience, and though I may use a very broad brush stroke to convey my answer I in no way think that my answer fits everyone. I also don’t believe it is exclusive to me either.
Question 1. Why did this happen to me and so many other people my age?
My answer is a bit more complex than to just say “fear”, but fear is definitely the heart of the matter. As a 50 year old man I was raised by parents who were born during the Great Depression. My grandparents saw hardships. Terrible hardships. Not only in their lives, but in the lives of everyone around them. They experienced the banks closing and watching their money disappear. They were devastated to say the least. This put a huge amount of distrust in them in financial institutions for the rest of their lives. And all they really knew was that it all happened because something call the “stock market” crashed and made all of their money go away. They were told that their money was perfectly safe in the bank and that nothing could ever happen to it. Today, that idea is mostly true. Banks now, because of the Great Depression are required to have insurance on all money deposited into the bank up to a certain amount per account. Back in those days though there was no such thing as bank insurance. So when the market crashed if you had money in the bank it was suddenly all gone.
This fear of financial institutions and the stock market was then passed down to the children of the parents of the Great Depression. It makes sense really. I mean, parents are to raise their children to be cautious of the things that have hurt them in the past. Right?! Well, that’s what they did. And then that fear was passed down to the next generation, and will be passed to the next generation if someone doesn’t step up and say, “HEY, things are a bit different now!”
This is pretty much what happened to me. I believe I got caught in the vortex of Hand-me-down fear from the Great Depression. Maybe not directly drilled into me like it may have been into my parents, but more of a residual gleaning of the idea because I was raised in a home where saving money was rarely done due to lack of it, and investing was discouraged because of their past experience with the Great Depression.
My dad did okay for his family. He graduated college, got a job as a school teacher and retired with a teachers retirement, and a military retirement. He never had to save for his retirement. He did encourage me to follow in his footsteps, but when I decided to go my own way he was unable to give me direction. Therefore, I struck out on my own with no real understanding of the future, and all the learned fears handed down from my grandparents and parents. Bottom line, financially I have always felt unprepared for the future.
Question 2. What can be done to change this process?
First thing you need to do is understand it is never too late to start investing. It is also never too early or too late to start teaching your children the importance investing. Now, there are a ton of expensive options out there for you to start your new investing lifestyle. If you choose an online broker like etrade, scottrade, or ameritrade, you can expect to pay as much as $9.95 per trade. In other words, you can pay $9.95 to buy a stock and then $9.95 to sell it once you make a profit. That is $20 total for every stock you buy. I could go on and on about the high cost of investing, especially if you use a traditional broker in a brick and mortar building. It gets outrageous.
But I have good news. You can now buy and sell stocks at no cost per trade. With STASH you start trading with as little as $5. Thats five dollars that goes 100% into the stock or etf of your choice. The only thing you will pay is a $1 per month account maintenance fee as long as you have less than $5000 in the account. After $5000 it does go up, but it is minimal.
Whats more is you can actually start a custodial account for all of your dependent children. How cool is that??? I mean just imagine if your parents had started buying stocks for you 20-50 years ago. Imagine where you would be today! Maybe they didn’t do it for you, but now you have the opportunity to do it for them. I have recently started doing this for my kids. Just $5 a week I have automatically set to be deposited into different stocks and bond funds through STASH. They actually get to keep up with how much their little account is growing and get excited when the dividends hit. Its satisfying to do this for them and to know that I am breaking the curse of fear with them, all while teaching them some of the in’s and out’s of investing.
So, what are you waiting for? Get started today! If you will use my referral link STASH will give both you and me $5 today. Here is the link