Serious investment advice found in unlikely places.
There aren’t too many jokes about retirement investing. Which, of course, is only to be expected. Watching your retirement investments do their thing can be a very trying process. (“I’d laugh if it wasn’t so painful. Let’s talk about something more pleasant. How was your root canal?”) That being said, the few jokes that are out there actually contain some remarkable little nuggets of investment wisdom.Here’s three that are exceptionally illuminating. (Don’t worry! If you have to smile, just go ahead. We won’t tell your financial advisor.)
My broker and I are working on a retirement plan. Unfortunately, it’s his!
Why It Hurts – The first major drain on your retirement funds are going to be the fees. Although most people understand the need for some kind of fee to administer your funds, few realize the severity of the standard fee system. First off, everybody gets a cut: your financial advisor, the fund administrator, the trading platform, etc. etc. etc. Secondly, it’s hard to even determine what you’re actually paying. Congress passed legislation to clean up fee disclosures, but chances are that you’re still in the dark. Finally, the fees may seem relatively insignificant at first, but when you stop and consider that the loss is being compounded every year, it’s enough to drive an investor crazy.
The Solution – The first step you should take is to get educated. Research different retirement plans and find out how the fee schedules differ. In the beginning it will be tremendously frustrating and confusing, but as you get a handle on the lingo, you’ll actually come away with valuable information. You’ll be able to apply this newfound knowledge to different investment vehicles (funds, stocks, private equity), and then to different investing platforms (online, broker based, advisor driven). After that, it should become fairly obvious who’s giving you the best deal for what you need.
#2 – The Black Hole
The market may be bad, but I slept like a baby last night. I woke up every hour and cried.
Why It Hurts – Everybody has a brief love affair with Wall Street when it’s at the top, but the other 95% of the time, investors are just downright disgusted. The modern day market is truly a roller coaster with its increasingly epic rises and freefalls. Contributing factors include the increasing volume of High Frequency Trading, corporate shenanigans that investors have no control over, and the rise of real time media which has people sprinting at every hiccup. What hurts even more is the fact that the whole system seems forced upon you. Many people would like a different venue, but where else can they invest their retirement funds?
The Solution –Although they are not heralded by the banks and brokerages, there are retirement platforms that allow you to take your funds off of Wall Street. These are called self-directed platforms. A self-directed IRA or Solo 401(k) allow investors to place their funds in virtually any asset that they feel comfortable with. This is a small but growing segment of the retirement establishment, and in the past few years a number of companies have turned out streamlined products that allow investors to go alternative with little to no hassle. Popular assets in these plans include local real estate, private business, or precious metals.
#3 –Fun With Delusions
A young man walks into a bank to make a withdrawal. ‘Can you identify yourself?’ asks the bank clerk. The man pulls out his phone, takes a quick selfie, looks at it, and says, ‘Yeah, it’s me.’
Why It Hurts – Many people fail in retirement investing because they have problems putting aside an appropriate amount or because they fall into a plan that doesn’t fit with their personality. Putting yourself in a situation where you’ll have to constantly fight to get your way is doomed to failure from the beginning.
The Solution – The first step in being successful is making sure that your retirement plan can work with you.If you have trouble saving, then perhaps you should consider setting up automated deductions. Similarly, if you’re not happy with the current direction of your retirement investments, it’s okay to be proactive and switch the funds to a more appropriate venue. After all, it is your money, and nobody is going to care for it as much as you do.