Most people are so wrapped up in achieving their earnings goals that they forget about their retirement goals. The vast majority of people will never be able to save their way to retirement. The only way to retire is make sure both sides of this wealth cycle are attended to. Work hard to make more money…and then to put that money to work through investing just like the wealthy have always done.
Note these are two different things. The first is for you to work. The second is for your money to work. Yet after working with thousands of students, we’ve found that the top two excuses people give for not investing their own money prior to a (usually) traumatic incident in their lives was either, “I didn’t think I had enough time” or, “I didn’t think I had enough money to start.” The truth is we do have the time if we prioritize it properly and we can get started with very little…especially if we start small with options.
In the back of our minds we know retirement is coming and that we should be saving for it. These thoughts act like a near constant stress affecting how we go through life…but the effort we spend to makes it easy to prioritize relaxation or family after a long day at work. This makes is hard to have the energy or motivation to figure out how to invest for ourselves. But this isn’t working and will never work. A 2018 Northwestern Mutual study found that 1/3 of all Americans closest to retirement only have $25,000 for retirement. No wonder so many feel they’ll never be able to retire or worry so much about their lifestyle in retirement!
This financial stress which most people carry throughout their lives is not caused by the poor earning or saving rate even though Wall Street wants you to think it is. It really doesn’t matter how much or how little one can save as long as the annual ROI earned is high enough to overcome any earnings or savings shortfall. The true cause of our financial stress is directly attributed to the poor annual ROI gained those we have hired to help us with our retirement.
There is a massive conflict of interest between our advisors and us simply because they are paid based on assets under management, not for performance. This incentivizes them to work diligently to get more assets under management. In other words, their primary income generating activity is selling, not increasing our returns.
Peter Lynch, a famous and very successful mutual fund manager declared that most people spend more time planning their vacation than they do planning their retirement. Most people don’t have a strong background in economic theory, don’t know how to read financial statements, and are generally intimidated by the uncertain and often volatile movement of the markets. So it’s easy to simply do what we do (make money and save as much as we can) while hiring the “experts” to do what they do.
This simply won’t do.
If you were given the choice of getting a million dollars today, or the opportunity to have a penny doubled every day for 30 days, what would you take?
Lot’s of people would take the million bucks. But compounding a penny every day for 30 days will literally yield 10 times a million or $10 million!
So it is with your retirement accounts. You will never earn enough to be able to save enough to retire wealthy. Yet giving your money to an expert hasn’t worked either because they are not incentivized to give you the best returns…only to sell more people like you into their money managed product.
The only way you’ll ever be able to retire wealthy is to continue what you’ve already started…investing your own money. Both sides of the Wealth Creation Cycle are your responsibility….and getting your money to work harder is by far the most important part of the cycle.
It’s not too late….but don’t waste any more time. Engage with your education. Be diligent in doing things every day to help you progress. Work to get to real money as quickly as possible. Attend your classes and interact with your instructor and the other students. This early support creates a virtuous cycle of investing and builds your financial confidence which helps you get better returns going forward. You begin to think in probabilities more and more like the wealthy do as you trade.
Financial and investing confidence comes through practice. At first it may seem overwhelming…but just take it one step at a time. Any movement forward is progress and helps you get that much closer to your ultimate goal of building a substantial retirement. Be patient with yourself as you go through this process. No one is perfect all the time and everyone experiences losing trades. Remember any improvement to your skills is substantially better than depending on a financial advisor who isn’t interested in your long-term retirement because of systemic conflicts of interest.
As you begin your training, understand that there are two things to learn. The first is to learn about the stock and options market. Initially you’ll face what might seem a dizzying array of jargon, strategies, technical indicators, and market structure. It might be overwhelming at first and you might think that teaching this is the only point of our education. But there is a far more important thing you must learn if you want to be successful….
The second thing to learn is how to act. Despite it’s initial complexity, it’s relatively easy to learn the jargon, the rules, and the method of investing. It’s quite a bit more difficult to actually trade. So many individual investors struggle to take action that Wall Street actually has a name for it. They call it paralysis by analysis. You will never feel like you know everything you need to know to pull the trigger and get into the trade. You must act anyway when you system gives you signals. Work to remain unemotional, rational, and disciplined as you focus on following your trade plan. Don’t allow the outcome of individual trades affect your next trades or pull you out of following your system.
There will never be a time as an investor when you’ll have all the information you need to make a perfect decision. No investor makes perfect decisions all the time There will be times when you act and the stock moves the other way. It is at these times the thought processes of fear and greed will work on you causing you to second guess yourself and perhaps even forcing you back out of the markets and into prior investing relationships. It is at these times that you must not quit!
Yes, you will make mistakes. Yes, you will lose money. Yes, you will have to grapple with your emotions. But if you trust an expert, you will also find that they make mistakes, that they lose money and you’ll still have to grapple with your emotions. They might be an easy target to blame, but playing the blame game does not help you become financially free. Trade your money for yourself. Learn from your mistakes, get better at letting your profits run and cutting your losses short and experience a new world of financial opportunity that opens up to you.
Old habits of thinking and of being will try to prevent you from making substantive, positive change in your life. Dig deep and find the wherewithal to gut it out, to keep going, to push through initial resistance to achieve your higher financial goals. Remember, there are two sides to the Wealth Creation Cycle: Earning money and putting that money to work at ever higher rates of return. It’s only by pushing through the inertia you’ll face that you will develop the skills to invest your money well and be able to grow a substantial retirement.