MILLENNIALS: MORE SAVERS AND SPENDERS THAN INVESTORS

#millennials #investors #savers #spenders
Millennials don’t see themselves as investors.
According to the 2016 Fidelity Investments Millennial Money Study, 46 percent of the millennials surveyed considered themselves as savers, 44 percent considered themselves spenders and only 9 percent considered themselves investors.
This study was quoted in an Adam Shell article for USA Today, which was published April 27, 2017, in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Despite Wall Street’s attempts to woo the nation’s largest generation into the stock market, millennials have yet to embrace investing, Shell’s article says. Only one in three say they invest in stocks, the article quotes a Bankrate.com survey.
A Black Rock study says nearly half of the millennials surveys found the market “too risky,” the article says.
And, four in 10 say they don’t have enough spare income to put away for the future, the article quotes a financial literacy survey from Stash, a financial app.
Let’s break down the facts. If you are a saver, and are putting money away, where are you stashing it? In a bank? Under your mattress?
In this market, the rates of return on that money between those alternatives are not far apart.
Secondly, there is wild and crazy – “risky” – investing, and there is careful investing. Each requires consultation with someone you trust , but here’s a good rule of thumb: as you start investing, look for more conservative vehicles, i.e. relatively safe mutual funds. As your wealth grows, you can diversify and take a few, well-thought-out risks. If you really do well, and want to play, take a very small amount of money and invest aggressively.
Here’s another rule: it’s difficult to have a nice nest egg for retirement just keeping your money in a bank. There are very few, if any, traditional, regulated banking products that are paying decent returns. Banks are wonderful institutions for your checking account, and perhaps a small savings account to cover unexpected expenses.
But to really be a saver for retirement, you have to take SOME risk. And, make no mistake, EVERYONE has to save for retirement. As stock-market-loving baby boomers can attest, you never know when your job is going to go away.
For those of you in the category of not having enough spare money to save for the future, there are ways to solve that problem. First and foremost, you have to make saving for the future a priority in your life. Even if you see yourself as a spender rather than a saver, you have make SOME saving a priority, or the fun you are having today will turn into poverty when you retire, or when that good job goes away.
A suggestion might be to look at the many ways out there to use your spare time to earn a secondary income. To check out one of the best such vehicles, message me.
In short, saving is not just prudent, but necessary. The more you save when you are young, the more you will have, and the better your life will be, when you are older. If you are a millennial, talk to your parents about what to do. However their lives have turned out, there are lessons in their lives that will apply to you. Don’t underestimate their story, or their advice.
As you save, some risk will become necessary. Though the stock market looks scary, over time it has proved to provide the best returns. Find a trustworthy, knowledgeable adviser to help you get started, and who will continue to work with you. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions about fees, returns etc., so that you will have a clear picture of how to proceed.
Finally, watch what you spend. Don’t deprive yourself, necessarily, but look for things you can eliminate to allow you to save more money. Remember that a dollar in your pocket generally is better for you than a dollar you put into someone else’s pocket.
Your future could well depend on decisions you make in your youth. You don’t have to depend on things “going right,” if you make good choices now.
Peter

FINANCIAL DISASTERS CREATE MISERY, BUT THERE IS HOPE

#investing #investors #TheBigShort

The year 2008 was a pivotal financial year for most of us.

If we didn’t lose our home, lose our job or lose our retirement savings – or, God forbid, all of the above — we were among the lucky.

The movie “The Big Short” illustrates how the economy can collapse when Wall Street gets creative, and mixes in a little fraud.

In many cases, we are asked to sign documents we don’t necessarily read from cover to cover. If you’ve ever bought property or gotten a mortgage, you rely on the person who is presenting the material to you to give you a summary of what it all says. We tend to trust that person explicitly that we are not being led down a destructive path – one that means big money to him or her at our expense.

Not only do we, generally, not have time to read such documents cover to cover, even if we did, we would not understand some of them. Some people don’t want us to understand them, because they’ve put something in them with a “gotcha” that hurts us.

“The Big Short tells a story that the Wall Street bankers themselves didn’t read what they were signing on for. When a few decided to read the documents, they found them filled with risky mortgage investments that were not highly rated. So, they created vehicles that allowed them to bet against those investments.

Many of those on Wall Street do what they can to make money quickly. When greed sets in, fraud becomes a great threat. Still, many who work on Wall Street are good, honest people. Even they get caught, sometimes unwittingly, into the mess when such messes occur.

We who are not on Wall Street have to make money the old-fashioned way, with work, savings and time. Many of us don’t have the wherewithal to turn around a quick investment that would make a fortune that will last our lifetimes.

Still, we don’t have to resort to greed, fraud and financial “creativity” to make a potential fortune. There are many ways out there for those of us not on Wall Street to turn our financial situations around. For one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. Yes, you’ll still need time to realize the potential, but the trajectory could be considerably shortened from that of relying on a traditional job.

“The Big Short” also revealed how bad the investors who bet against the risky mortgage-backed securities felt when their wisdom paid off. It hurt them that their profit came at the expense of many other innocent people.

The moral, perhaps, isn’t that making a profit is bad. It’s more on the angle of how one makes a profit. If he can do it without hurting others, that profit feels much better.

If one can make a profit by helping others do the same, that’s ideal.

Most investment advisers suggest that, as an investor, one must remove emotion from the decision-making. A few develop investment products designed to make the world a better place, making the investor feel good about what he is doing.

The range, perhaps, between those two extremes is to invest in things that help others, while having a plan to help oneself have, say, a comfortable retirement. Proper investing can lead to a degree of comfort, even when greed and fraud on Wall Street is exposed, or when circumstances take the markets in wild directions.

No market goes up in a straight line. Success comes with failures mixed in. But a good, prudent plan can protect each investor from almost anything. Good advice from someone you trust is essential, preferably not from someone who gets “creative” with financial products.

Peter

DON’T PANIC: INVESTORS ARE CHANGING THE WORLD FOR THE GOOD

#investors #stockmarket #socialproblems #purposeoriented
It’s tough to love the stock market with the volatility we’ve seen in recent weeks.
Certainly, both the market and the government have tarnished reputations, as New York Times columnist David Brooks recently pointed out.
But there are a few big-money types who have tried to use the market to solve social problems. Brooks writes that these investors have opposable minds. They are part profit-oriented – nothing is done in the markets without someone making money – and part purpose-oriented.
These investors have created organizations that look a little like businesses, a little like a social-service providers and a little like charities – or some mixture of the three, Brooks writes. His column was published in July 2015 in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Ben & Jerry’s ice cream led the first wave in this sector, Brooks says, but now you’ve got a burgeoning array of social-capitalist tools to address problems. They range from B Corporations like Warby Parker, which gives free glasses to the poor, to social impact bonds, Brooks writes.
Brooks cites a phenomenon is called impact investing, which seeks out companies that are intentionally designed to both make a profit and provide a measurable and accountable social good.
We all would like to put our hard-earned savings into companies that do good. But as a small saver, or one who is diligently saving a small portion of what he or she earns toward retirement, one has to focus on getting the most growth and income from his contributions.
For these folks, gyrations in the market, like the ones we’ve seen recently, cause great consternation. But most experts in the field would advise them not to panic. Usually, what goes down goes back up, as we have seen. You see, those with some cushion in their accounts, and with good advisers, will have raised cash by selling some of the underperforming investments, so they can use that cash to buy some great stocks cheaply when the overall market tumbles.
Remember that when the market reacts this way, an individual stock is just following the market. It does not mean the companies, or their products, are no good. Those good companies will come back because investors see discount shopping opportunities in tumbling markets.
So, if you are small, careful investor, who has put his or her money into good companies or good funds, relax. When the market drops, it’s usually a temporary glitch. Stick to your original plan, and follow the advice of the person you trust. If it helps, don’t watch the news – at least the parts about how the market is doing. If you know that your savings and investment plans are well-thought-out, cringe if you must at what’s going on, but breathe easily.
Someday, you may have enough money to make a real impact on a global problem. For now, though, secure your own nest egg little by little, and don’t let the market gyrations get you down.
Of course, there are many other worthwhile things you can do to enhance your wealth. For one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. If you are thinking of getting a second, part-time job to throw a little bit more toward your retirement, think a little outside the box. You just might find a way to better utilize any free time you would devote to a second job, and have a lot more fun than a second job would be.
It’s a marvelous thing that some smart, rich folks are looking for ways to solve the globe’s problems with their own money. We all may wish to be in that situation, but, for those who are not rich, it’s best to work on enhancing your own wealth FIRST, and help others do the same.
When, and only when, you’ve done that, by all means feel free to make an impact on the world. Work hard, play hard, save and invest hard. Help others, and you will be enriched. Once enriched, keep helping others. It will bring you great joy.
Peter

PUBLIC VS. PRIVATE: BE AN IMPACT INVESTOR

#investors #publicprivate #impactinvesting
Who will solve the great problems of the nation and the world?
Will it be governments or private citizens?
Or, will it be a little of both?
It was thought that private citizens would never solve anything unless they can make money – gobs of money.
Governments, on the other hand, don’t have any money, but spend it anyway, sometimes futilely.
New York Times columnist David Brooks discussed the new concept of “impact investing.” That is private money going into investments that attack some of the world’s problems. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published his column Feb. 3, 2015.
Brooks says that the private market, prone to devastating crashes and producing widening inequality, combined with gridlocked, ineffective government aren’t getting the job done.
So a group of smart people with opposable minds – part profit-oriented and part purpose-oriented – have created organizations that look a little like businesses, a little like social-service providers and a little like charities – or some mixture of the three, Brooks writes.
They are creating new impact funds, social stock exchanges and include players like Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse. The first wave of this sector was led by Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Now you have an array of capitalist tools ranging from B Corporations like Warby Parker, which gives free glasses to the poor, to social impact bonds. Brooks writes. He quotes at 2010 report by the Rockefeller Foundation and JPMorgan that says impact investing capital could amount to $1 trillion by 2020.
So what’s happening here? Did government failures in helping its people make wealthy people feel guilty – guilty enough to accept a potentially lower profit to help lots of people?
Capitalism is a marvelous institution that has gotten a bad rap. People are beginning to realize that it’s not how rich you become that matters, but how you become rich. Did you do well by doing good? Were you helping others succeed as you were succeeding? Once you’ve achieved success, did you hoard all your gains, or did you use them to help those worthy of your help?
It’s clear not everyone is going to get rich. But there are many vehicles out there that allow ANYONE to get rich. For one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. Check out a model in which success only comes by helping others succeed.
Think back to the days when you were young, and just starting out in the workforce. You probably had an entry-level job for, say, a small business. When the time came for you to move on to other things to better your life, how did your boss treat you when you left? Was he wishing you well, telling you he was proud to have you work for him and offer any lifelong assistance (not necessarily financial) that you might need? Or, was he the type that was upset that you were quitting and leaving him short-staffed? The former likely was a pleasure to work for, because he looked out for you, and you, in turn, made sure you did your best for him. The latter likely had employees who were indifferent toward the boss, didn’t care whether his business succeeded and probably worked under a good deal of stress.
If you become a boss, which kind would you like to be? If you become an investor, which kind would you like to be? People who work hard on being better people tend to have success follow them. Those who don’t, and still achieve success, probably have lots of current and former employees, who got relatively little in return, to thank.
Peter

SILENT ECONOMIC IMPROVEMENTS

#economy
We hear and read that the economy is really improving.
Yet, many of us don’t see it, or feel it.
The reasons may be too numerous to mention all of them, but a few key ones are: you may have lost a good job and gotten a new one, but you are making less money. Many of us had to get back on our feet, sort of, by making less money. That is a trend. Businesses want more and better work, for less.
Here’s another: you had a house. You either lost your house in foreclosure, or you had to sell your house for less than it was worth because you lost your job. Your new job, if you’ve gotten one, pays less, but you had to take a lesser house. What gets you, too, is that some rich investor gobbled up your former house for pennies on the dollar, and is either renting it to someone else in your situation, or has resold it for more than you could have afforded to buy it back. To the investor, the economy is booming. But you don’t feel it.
A third: you were lucky to keep your job that you’ve had all these years. You’ve survived downsizings, buyouts and the like, intact. But you have not had a raise in years. Your costs, for everything, have gone up. You don’t see the boom in the economy. Yet, you are supposed to consider yourself lucky to have survived. Perhaps, it’s the new normal.
For those who already had pretty good means, the economy is improving. They are seeing the recession disappear, and their fortunes return, and even improve. But so many are left in the dust. They have been downsized, resized and even “recovered.” Yet, they may never see anything resembling the life they once had. They were good at what they did, helped their employers do well, but they were forced to find a new life with less.
You start to see signs saying employers are hiring. You check out some of them, and find that the jobs they are hiring for will hardly make you a living, or are part time. Or, perhaps, the jobs not only don’t pay well, they are incompatible with your life. There may be a shortage of truck drivers, as has been recently reported. But having a job that puts you on the road at all hours of the day and night for $50,000 a year just isn’t going to work for you. There was a time when driving a truck paid much better. Those days are gone.
We are starting to read and hear about companies hiring, shortages in certain professions and even new jobs being created. When you check them out, many of them are either beyond your qualifications or they don’t pay nearly what they should. Wages should start to rise in this situation, but they are slow to. Employers still believe there are enough desperate people out there that they can still pay less.
So, if you are not seeing the boom in the economy that many are talking about, you are not alone.
There is good news here. There are many things out there that can provide an alternative to the traditional job. And, they can pay you pretty handsomely. But, as in anything, you have to be a person who wants something badly enough to look at something different.
If you are that person, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau, and see one of the best.
You can mope, cope and hope. Or, you can look outside what you know, get a desire to change things for yourself and take the plunge. In this new world, others will willingly help you succeed.
Some may want you to settle for less. Don’t settle. Succeed.
Peter

CONFUSION IN THE STOCK MARKET

#stockmarket
“Main Street” is dumping stocks.
Professional investors keep investing, as the market, as of June 2014, was hitting new highs. The Dow since has passed the 17,000 mark.
Adam Shell, in an article June 12, 2014 in USA Today, writes that average investors in mutual funds are getting out of the funds heavily weighted toward stocks and moving into bonds and bond funds. That obviously hasn’t stopped the stock market from hitting records.
Shell’s article theorizes that the average investor, after going through the downturn starting in 2008, believes that the stock market can’t keep going up forever. On average, Shell writes, the stock market goes through a correction every 18 months. So far, it’s been 32 months since the last correction.
Yet, professional investors pumped $5.5 billion into U.S.-based exchange-traded stock funds.
It’s true that professional investors are accustomed to the ups and downs of the market, and have plenty of money to lose. Average investors could lose everything, and are more cautious.
But perhaps it’s more than that. Average investors are probably having to dip into their nest eggs sooner than they had planned. Perhaps they’ve lost a job, and can’t find another that pays as well. Perhaps they were forced to retire early – before they could build a sufficient nest egg.
If you consider yourself an average investor, it’s certainly OK to be cautious. It’s certainly OK to take your profits if you are not comfortable with the risk. Still, it may be unwise to let fear govern your decisions.
Sure, your investment adviser may be a “professional.” But if you trust your adviser, let him or her guide you through this time. Interest rates and inflation are still low. The hyper inflation that the naysayers predicted a few years ago has not come to pass.
Make no mistake. Interest rates and inflation can’t stay this low forever. The Federal Reserve has stopped pumping as much money into the system as it has been, which may signal rising interest rates. Rising interest rates are not all bad. If you are not borrowing money, but have cash on the sidelines, rising interest rates will help you.
In short, if your trusted adviser is telling you to stay put, it’s probably OK. If he’s recommending that you move your money, he may have an inkling that something is coming, and may be exercising caution with your precious dollars.
If you are among those who is going through an economic pitfall, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. You certainly won’t get investment advice, but you may find a great way to put more money in your pocket.
Obviously, the more money you have, the more risk you can tolerate. But try not to take what you believe is desperate action. Desperate action can just make a bad situation worse. Make sure you are making decisions rationally, rather than emotionally. Let your trusted adviser guide you.
No one wishes for another stock market crash. Still, they happen. But most advisers say that timing the market is unwise. It might be best to find investments you are comfortable with, and roll with the ups and downs. If it goes down, put more money in. If it goes up, let it keep growing. Most of all, follow your adviser’s guidance.
Investors operate on fear and greed. Make sure your fear is justified and rational. Try not to get too giddy with greed.
Peter

YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE ALL SET, BUT …

History may judge the years 2007 to 2012, give or take a few years on either end, as the retirement bust years.
People not only lost jobs just before they were about to retire, but also their pensions shrank.
People who thought they were all set for retirement, with a nice, promised pension, got a rude awakening. The monthly benefit on their retirement documentation shrunk considerably.
It was a combination of the economy tanking, and companies contributing less, if anything at all, to their retirement accounts. Added to that, the stock market , which supports most retirement accounts, took a big tumble. Net worth of everything – companies and individuals — had the bottom fall out.
Even the savviest investor could not prevent what happened in those years, short of taking his money out of the financial markets ahead of time. Any investor who withdraws completely is probably not that savvy. Savvy investors take the ups and downs of the market as an expectation, though no one expected what happened in those years.
So the question becomes not who to blame for the mess. There’s plenty of blame to be spread around among Wall Street, government and, yes, individual decisions. But blaming wastes energy that should be focused on recovery.
We have all had to rethink retirement. Some of us have told ourselves we have to work until we die. Some of those folks may have other alternatives, but they are not seeing them.
Certainly, some of us have said we have to work past the age we thought we were going to retire. That’s fine if you are in good health personally. But don’t think for a minute that your job will be there for as long as you want it. Companies reorganize drastically and often. The younger generation of workers, when they retire, may brag about how many reorgs they survived, just as the older generation is thankful for the steady work they had.
Speaking of young people, they may want to think twice about ASSUMING they will survive every reorg. It’s great to believe, or even be told, how good you are at what you do and how your employer cannot possibly live without you.
But, you can’t always see into the future, especially today. The world changes quickly. Companies are constantly looking at ways to work more efficiently. Lots of good people have lost jobs they expected to have for as long as they wanted to work.
How do we avoid the instinct to cast blame and rethink retirement? First, work on you. Make sure you have a good and optimistic attitude. Remember, those who innovate are usually optimists. It’s tough to see the future properly without believing that all, eventually, will be good.
Secondly, think about the things you DON’T like to do – things that make you “uncomfortable,” or so you believe. Give them a try. Then, try them again, and again etc. This will take you out of your comfort zone, where you may have to go, eventually, to survive.
Thirdly, don’t be afraid to look at something different. The people who lament that they thought they were all set, are many of the same people who tell themselves, “oh, I couldn’t possibly do THAT!”
There are many ways to fight this. For one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. If you leave your comfort zone to look at something new, you may lose the instinct to cast blame for your troubles, and find a way out.
This may not be your dad’s way to retire, but the world has changed. We need to be part of our own solutions, rather than focusing on how we got into trouble.
Think of it this way: the federal government bails out some companies because innocent people would get hurt if they didn’t. But they won’t bail you out as an individual if you get hurt. You have to bail yourself out. You might not only bail yourself out, but prosper in many ways in the process.
Peter

BEST TIME TO START A BUSINESS

Decades ago, starting a business was hard.
You needed money – either your own, or investors’.
You needed sophisticated and expensive marketing – a big cost.
All of the above was hard to come by. If you failed, chances are you were devastated. If you failed, you probably would have decided to take your skills and ideas to an employer and help make HIM rich.
Today, as Darren Hardy, publisher of Success magazine puts it, starting a business has never been easier.
In a 2013 audio from his series, Hardy points out that the Internet and social media and the related technology makes starting a business easy. It’s relatively cheap, because you don’t need a lot of that sophisticated and expensive marketing. If you have a good idea, and a computer, you can tell the world about your idea relatively easily.
Because starting a business is relatively easy, and relatively inexpensive, failure is not as costly. If one idea fails, try another one. Chances are, you won’t be financially devastated by your first failure.
If you are entrepreneurial, you can keep trying things until one works. Entrepreneurs know that eventually, if they keep trying, they will succeed.
Couple the ease of starting a business today, with the difficulties in the workplace. Job security is almost impossible to find. Companies are looking for, as New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has put it, “cheap genius.” If they don’t find it nearby, they’ll find it somewhere in the world.
Your good ideas, taken to an employer, may be able to be replicated, even improved upon, by someone who will work for less money than you make.
If you are young and starting your career path, take a look at what you are good at, what you are passionate about, and think about how you could parlay that into your own business. There’s nothing wrong with working for someone else for a time, even a long time, especially if that person is helping you succeed. But chances are, if you are good at something, and are passionate about it, you’ll have the drive to strike out on your own if you choose.
Sometimes, it’s a matter of taking your passion and figuring out how you can use it to help others. Then, figure out how much others will pay you for helping them. If you are passionate about art, and have a talent for it, you don’t necessarily have to sell your drawings or paintings. But you might sell yourself as someone who could help, say, architects, stagers etc. Ideas, plus passion, plus drive might be a good formula for success in whatever endeavor you choose.
What if you have drive, but no ideas and no passion yet. Where do you go to find the idea and passion to which you could apply your great drive? There are many good business ideas already out there waiting for the people with drive to pursue them. To check out one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. All you need to be successful is the sense to see how good an idea it is, and the drive to share it.
Even though Hardy says it’s relatively easy to start a business today, whatever you pursue will require hard work. But if you are passionate, the work won’t seem so hard. As the saying goes, if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.
In these conditions, passion, plus idea, plus drive is the perfect formula. The passions and ideas can be found elsewhere. The drive has to be within you.
Peter