I wasn’t old enough to rent a car, but in my early 20s a major brokerage firm recruited me to become a stockbroker. I was excited until I figured out that I’d just committed to a career of telemarketing.
This big, respected Wall Street brokerage firm expected me to smile and dial until I had built up a hefty list of wealthy clients who could generate endless commissions from the investment products they’d continue buying from me.
Did I know more about investing and risk management than 99% of the general public? Maybe. I probably knew a little something about a few things but not enough to make my living posing as an expert.
In 2005, I left the commission world and the financial services business entirely to become an investor advocate and created my public television series MoneyTrack, which ran on 255 PBS stations weekly. My mission became educating everyday investors by sharing stories of real people combined with advice from nationally recognized experts.
Now I’m sharing five very simple lessons that will help you get closer to financial freedom.
Investing doesn’t have to be overly complicated – in fact, a simple and consistent approach to investing works best, and especially over time. Retirees want investments that are both safe and yet still want their savings to grow. There are time-tested approaches to investing in the stock market and for generating retirement income.
What works best is to not constantly second-guess yourself. A solid investment strategy just needs a good review once or twice a year. Then, when the economy falters, interest rates rise, or inflation heats up, any adjustments to your investment portfolio tend to be minor tactical tweaks versus a complete portfolio overhaul, or worse, panic selling.
You can share your own real-world money skills and teach your grandkids about money right now. You may not see yourself as a money guru, but your life experiences and practical boots-on-the-ground knowledge have tremendous value.
Only about a dozen states require financial literacy in public schools, so most kids aren’t learning much about how the real world works when it comes to commerce. Children pick up most of their money habits from their parents and family members and kids as young as 14 can learn the basics of borrowing, saving and even how to invest.
When grandparents share their lifelong lessons about money, it’s a gift that will keep on giving.
The Internet has changed everyday life, and that includes where we get financial advice. Empower yourself by taking advantage of all the free information that’s at your fingertips. Consumers can Google everything, and they’re questioning the blatant conflicts of interest inherent in big Wall Street brokerage firm relationships.
Brokers and insurance companies have been getting away with not telling the whole truth for decades, but individual investors, especially Baby Boomers, are much savvier today. They’re looking for financial advisors who are fiduciaries and offer holistic financial planning and guidance.
According to Vanguard Funds, men are 25% more likely to lose money than women. I think of men as warriors when they invest. For men, it’s often all about chasing returns, while women tend to be worriers.
We’re careful to make sure our money will last the rest of our lives, so we invest with that goal in mind. That means women are less likely to trade – and since you pay a fee or commission for every transaction, all those unnecessary costs eat away your returns. Women also tend to ask for help and genuinely want to understand how an investment really works.
Make sure you own some of each type of investment. Rather than trying to beat the market, consider that there’s nothing wrong with doing as well as the overall stock market. Long-term data dating back to 1950 shows that returns on the S&P 500 (America’s largest and most profitable companies) grew an average of 7% a year but the market surely doesn’t go up every year.
This is why it’s wise to have money spread out amongst different classes of investments including stocks, real estate, bonds and cash. When it comes to investing, diversification wins all battles.
Do you have a solid investment and savings plan for your retirement? When it comes to money, do you consider yourself a warrior or a worrier? How have you shared financial wisdom with your children and grandchildren? Please share in the comments.