For almost twenty five years, Kent and I have been listening to all the mainstream financial gurus. We've been good little children and dutifully funded our retirement accounts by investing in mutual funds through 401-Ks and IRAs. We’ve continued through all the stock market highs and lows, beginning when we were married in our early twenties.
So where does it all go?
The last several years have been very frustrating. Every month our balance comes in the mail and it always seems to be smaller than the month before. A friend of Kent’s recently retired. He figured out that his pension is now worth less than the actual amount of money he paid into it over his career.
Now is the time to keep buying!
Yes, I know we're young enough that we don't need to panic about the latest stock market downturns. Even Dave Ramsey, who I generally agree with, says to chill out, that it will come back, and if we keep buying now when it's low then that money will compound as it comes back up and next thing you know, you’re Donald Trump! Blah blah blah. That's what ‘they' have been saying for twenty five years.
Look what's been happening around the world recently, things are really bad.
Who really knows how this will all shake out? Things are a mess like never before, and the politicians that got us here are no different than the ones before them. Do we really know what the future holds? Just because the stock market has come back in the past doesn’t mean it will come back again. There's a first for everything and there are no guarantees.
It's nice we're helping others get rich, though.
Like my brother says, “The CEOs at the companies we're investing in and all the mutual fund managers continue to get rich. While we watch our balance shrink, they get nice hefty bonuses and are living large!”
So I called Kent today and asked him to remind me how much of of his check each week goes into that little retirement pit. He told me and I said, “Let's at least cut it in half, this is ridiculous! What if all those financial books we've read have been wrong?” He said, “Kel, a lot of people are saying the same thing, to stick with it, and keep buying while it's low.”
And then it hit me like a ton of bricks.
What if the Financial Gurus Have Led Us Wrong Just Like the Conventional Diet Gurus Have?
Yes, there are a lot of top financial advisors saying to stick with the stock mutual funds, most of them actually. But they could also be dead wrong, just like the conventional diet gurus have been dead wrong for years as they've told us that we should avoid saturated fat like the plague! What if we had listened to them? We'd probably be feeling about twenty years older by now and taking a handful of medications, too.
So I don't know what we'll decide to do. My brother is seriously thinking of pulling out, too, and maybe rolling the dice with individual stocks. I think about all those people who have spent everything they've earned all these years, and taken loads of trips and bought all the toys, while we were saving. If the market keeps going backward and we get to retirement with little to show for all our years of saving, why did we bother? Why didn’t we just live it up like the others?
This month is very tight with college tuition due, our first flying-somewhere family vacation in 7 years, property taxes due, and on and on. You all know how that is. But as I'm paying bills this month, I'm wondering, “Why?” We could be using that money we're throwing away into the stock market to live a little better now and give more to those in need.
Don't get me wrong, as Christians, Kent and I put our ultimate trust in God, and our goal in life isn't to be rich and never has been.
But that doesn't change the fact that He has given us resources to use wisely or not, and what if we've been listening to the wrong people all these years? What if we're killing ourselves financially by listening to the mainstream financial gurus just as surely as we'd be killing ourselves physically if we were still listening to the mainstream diet gurus?
I know that many of you have problems much bigger than the ones I'm sharing…
For those reading who may be out of work, deep in debt, or struggling to put food on the table, what I'm talking about must seem totally unimportant. For all of you, I'm sorry to whine about this. (Note: To everyone who is able, don't forget to financially help those around you who are in need!)
But for anyone with a similar dilemma, I'd love to know what you think.
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