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Three SPOOKY Things: Halloween 2019

October 31, 2019
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What's scarier than GHOULS, GOBLINS, WITCHES, and GHOSTS?

Not much is scarier than these things, but I have a few suggestions (Three to be exact). 


Adam Harding, CFP / Smartvestor Pro

If this is your first time receiving this email, here's some background: "Three Things" is a quick weekly email to recap some things that stood out to me in the previous week. I try to find inspiration in articles, videos, images, and anything else that I can tie into a financial planning or investment tip. Let me know if there's something you'd like to see covered, or if you happen to spot something interesting which you'd like to share. I hope you find this insightful!

Spooky Thing #1: 

Americans Do Not Have Enough Retirement Savings (Really)

Article: Link

A report earlier this year from the Government Accountability Office found that 48% of American households have NO RETIREMENT SAVINGS

Forty. Eight. Percent. (queue "spooky music")

By "Retirement Savings", this report emphasized that it means savings specifically in retirement-type accounts --like IRAs, Roth IRAs, 401(k)s, etc... Despite the nomenclature, it's clearly possible to save for "retirement" in an non-retirement account like a simple savings or individual brokerage account, so this study may not tell the whole story and Americans may be slightly better off with their savings, right? 

Nope.... On to SPOOKY thing #2 for more on this. 

Spooky Thing #2: 

Many Americans Can't Afford a $400 Emergency 

Article: Link

Sorry folks, more scary news... Americans are not only bad at saving in retirement accounts, we're just bad at saving

In recent years there have been different iterations of the same study, which has found that about 40% of Americans would have to sell something or go into debt to meet an unexpected $400 expense. 

Four. Hundred. Dollars. (queue even spookier music here)

The article in the link above highlights income inequality and debt as a central reason why Americans struggle with saving. While this is certainly a contributing factor, the truth is this: We're bad at deferring gratification. 

After all, 81% of Americans now own smartphones (which is up from 35% in 2011).... So it's really more about getting intentional about money. 

The one piece of spooky good news: long-term financial security matters a lot less if you die early. 

The bad news?: 

THE ZOMBIES ARE COMING (see Spooky Thing #3)


Most People Will NEVER Die



(Queue the spookiest music so far)

People are living longer than even before. Good news for people, bad news for savings reserves. 

1/3 of today's 65-year-olds can expect to live past 90. 

...1/7 will make it past 95. 

So a person currently retiring at 65 has a good chance of needing their assets to last for THIRTY YEARS.

That, my friends, is a long time for golf, travel, cribbage, time with family, etc... We want to enjoy that time, but we know from Spooky Things 1 & 2 that Americans are woefully underfunded. 

According to the World Economic Forum, most US retirees will outlive their savings by around 8-10 yrs in retirement. Scary indeed. 

So.... Does this spooky story have a happy ending? 

It certainly can take a turn for the better.... And if you're reading this then you've clearly shown interest in making smart wealth building decisions.

The best thing any of us can do is this:

1) Continue to talk about the issue at hand, and

2) Encourage immediate action. 

People hesitate to talk about money and they are often paralyzed by the markets, news, financial media, etc...

Money is a concept that isn't going anywhere --people just need get comfortable talking about it and start making the right decisions right away.

Feel free to pass this email onto anyone you think could benefit from our frequent commentary.  

That’s all for now, have great week!


Adam Harding, CFP®