Tuesday, September 17, 2013

OT: goals, plans and balance

Marketwatch (link) has a article about investors being too optimistic about retirement. The headline is about having no goals or plans but being optimistic.
Fully 89% of investors surveyed said they’re confident their investing strategy will allow them to realize their retirement goals ... But 72% admit their investment knowledge is weak, 54% said they don’t have a financial plan and 45% said they don’t even have clear financial goals

There is a separate statistic (USNews link2) that cites this:
The median retirement saving balance for households ages 55-64 is just $12,000.

In my travels, I can echo the sentiments. The Bogleheads (Vanguard forum on the side tab and at link3) have a simple philosophy: Live under your means, save a lot (a real lot for high income), figure on about a 4% safe withdrawal rate, use index funds in a balanced manner. That's the best recipe I have seen. As much as I thrive on the complexity of options and short term trading, maybe 5% of investors, maybe 1% of the population is cut out for options trading. For many of the rest, index funds at a set percentage and rebalance is the best road to travel.

For young people, my advice is to find balance. Balance between saving and spending, make finding a rewarding career, and a great life partner (marriage for many) high priorities. There is a world of opportunity out there, even though it may be more competitive than ever, the top end is doing as well or better than ever. There seem to be fewer in that top group though.

In my travels, I do tend to find that those that set goals, that have plans tend to do better than those that don't. Obviously there are exceptions, but any person, especially a young person can think about what kind of life they want and how they might go about getting there. There is nothing wrong with big dreams. However, a person does need to move towards that star and not sit idle.

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