We all make excuses. Most of the time, they’re pretty harmless. But you could be hurting yourself if you make excuses for not taking action in some areas – and one of those areas is investing.
Not investing, or not investing enough, can have serious consequences. In fact, a lot of people are poorly prepared financially for retirement. Consider these figures from the Federal Reserve: The median retirement account value for individuals between 35 and 44 is just $42,700; for people 55 to 64, the corresponding figure is $103,000. These figures are frighteningly low, especially when retirement can easily last two or three decades.
In short, you need to invest. So, what’s stopping you? Here are some common excuses:
• “I’ll do it later.” The longer you wait before you start investing, the less time you have to accumulate money, and the less likely it may be that you’ll achieve your goals, such as a comfortable retirement lifestyle. If you haven’t begun investing, do it today.
• “I don’t have enough money to invest.” The cost of living is unquestionably high, and you may feel that you have just enough money to pay your bills before your next paycheck. But if you look for ways to economize, you may well be able to free up even a little money to invest each month. And then, when your salary goes up, you can increase the amount you invest.
• “I’ll have Social Security.” Social Security benefits generally account for only about 40 percent of an individual’s pre-retirement income, according to the Social Security Administration. Unless you want to scale back your lifestyle greatly during your retirement years, you’ll need to supplement Social Security with your employer-backed retirement account, such as a 401(k), plus your own investments, such as those that go inside an IRA.
• “Can I really invest enough money for my retirement?” Consider this: Going back to 1990, if you had invested $10,000 in the stocks that make up the S&P 500, and simply held on to these stocks, you would have amassed more than $76,000 after taxes by the end of 2013. Of course, past performance of the market is not a guarantee of how it will perform in the future, and the S&P 500 is an unmanaged index and is not meant to depict an actual investment – but this illustration still shows that patient, diligent, long-term investing can produce positive results.
• “I don’t know where to begin.” If you work for a company that provides a retirement plan such as a 401(k) or something similar, you’ve already got a great place to begin. You only need to sign up for the plan and start deferring a part of your salary, and you’re an investor. It’s also quite easy to open an IRA, another popular retirement savings account. In any case, if you have doubts about how to get started investing, you will find it valuable to meet with a qualified investment professional.
Don’t let excuses get in the way of developing good investment habits. With time, determination and effort, you can overcome many of the obstacles you thought prevented you from becoming a full-fledged investor.
This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor (member SIPC). Contact Stan at Stan.Russell@edwardjones.com.