What’s the best way Americans can prepare for retirement? How should people invest their money?Â Â
As some people know, my rant is: “Why doesn’t our school system teach kids about money and investing?” Rich or poor, smart or not smart, we all use money. Really that’s where it starts. I know 95 percent of the people don’t do that; they turn their money over to a financial planner. If you have no financial education, then I would follow the financial planner’s advice of start young, save and invest in a well-diversified portfolio of probably index funds, but that’s not the way I do it. I’d rather invest in my education.
Let me say it this way: I have a friend who buys a new set of golf clubs every year, but he won’t spend a dime on golf lessons. And he can’t understand why his golf game is still terrible. It’s not the golf clubs, it’s not the stock, it’s not the bonds, it’s not the real estate that makes you a better investor, it’s your knowledge, it’s your wisdom. So I would rather invest a lot of money in golf lessons and none in golf clubs and I’d have a better chance of winning the game.
But in the world of investing, most people would rather invest in a stock and a bond and nothing in their brains and that’s why they don’t get those high returns. Or they say such silly things as “investing is risky” or “get out of debt and save money” and all those little platitudes that the financial planners teach you, which is good advice for a person who really has limited financial training.
What is the single best piece of advice you have to give someone who is poised on the brink of retirement — especially someone who is in that 80 percent of those not financially prepared for it?
Your best asset is really your brain, and if you haven’t educated it, then you’ve underused your best asset. I would be very concerned with this idea of saving money. The purchasing power of your dollar is going down and when the Federal Reserve reduces the interest rate, that means the interest on the revenue you receive from your savings goes down. Today you really have to learn how to invest. Let’s say bread is $3 a loaf today and in 10 years it might be $8 a loaf. You’ve really got to start thinking in that kind of financial environment simply because the U.S. dollar is going to keep dropping. Americans who are holding dollars are in very big trouble.
I would really invest in getting some degree of financial education. If you’re over 60, I don’t think the idea of investing for long term is a reality. I would probably look at starting some business on the Web, something that is minimal physical output and you can learn how to buy and sell stuff on the Web. Hopefully that will keep you alive with the cash flow.