When we go to the grocery store, we seldom shop on logic alone. We may not even buy on price. We buy one type of yogurt over another because of brand loyalty, or because one brand has more appealing packaging than another. We buy five bananas because they are on sale for 29 cents this week – the bargain is right there; why not seize the opportunity? We pick up that gourmet ice cream that everyone gets – if everyone buys it, it must be a winner.
As casual and arbitrary as these decisions may be, they are remarkably like the decisions many investors make in the financial markets.
Installment debt, in itself, is not a bad thing. It enables us to make major purchases that would be nearly impossible to finance up-front. The problem is, in this consumer society, we're bombarded with advertisements for literally thousands of "must-have" products. The result is that while our parents tended to pay with cash and buy only what they could afford, we have the "buy now, pay later" mentality.
Why do some households tread water financially while others make progress? Does it come down to habits?
Sometimes the difference starts there. A household that prioritizes paying itself first may end up in much better financial shape in the long run than other households.
You know you should start saving for retirement before you turn 40. What can you start doing today to make that effort more productive, to improve your chances of ending up with more retirement money, rather than less?
Why are women so challenged to retire comfortably? You can cite a number of factors that can potentially impact a woman’s retirement prospects and retirement experience. A woman may spend less time in the workforce during her life than a man due to childrearing and caregiving needs, with a corresponding interruption in both wages and workplace retirement plan participation. A divorce can hugely alter a woman’s finances and financial outlook. As women live longer on average than men, they face slightly greater longevity risk – the risk of eventually outliving retirement savings.
As a single parent, you need to understand the financial strategies that can stretch your income and help you lay the groundwork for a secure future. Consider the following lessons to help improve your family's bottom line:
It's a message worth repeating. Investing is a matter of focus. Despite recent disappointments in stock market performance, investors who are willing to assess the whole universe of investment choices may find that the market continues to offer new possibilities. And those who keep their sights set on long-term investment goals may find that a "forest, not trees" approach to investing offers the greatest potential for success.