Sunday, November 2, 2008

Stressed about the Economy?

An article I read, though it is from about a month ago, is probably still true or maybe the percentages have gotten higher. 80% of people in the US are stressed about their personal finances and the economy, says the American Psychological Association. Apparently most people are drawn to counseling because of relationship problems with marriage and children, depression and anxiety, but now, 8 out 10 people that go see doctors for counseling are there for reasons related to personal finance.

Thats sick that so many people lay sleepless at night (says the article) about money. I was talking with my Grandfather last Thanksgiving and he was going on a rant about how when he was a kid they would work and earn a few cents and they would go to the bank and deposit it into their accounts and mark it up in their ledger, and everyone of his friends had an account like that, that they took care of and followed closely with their money. I don't know what he was getting at really, if he was saying that the internet might have something to do with the change or what, but I started thinking about it, and I think he may have meant that at such a young age he and all of his friends were caring after their own money and not having the parents watch after it, therefore instilling a strong sense of what a dollar is worth at a young age.

I can see that...I know people who up through college did not manage their personal finances, and even myself, I don't think that I manage my personal finances well enough. I had a checking account opened as soon as I got my first job, and I had learned to keep the ledger and knew how to write checks, go to the ATM and make deposits. I still think though, even as of right now, I don't budget well, or stick to budgets well, and I don't watch money as closely as I should and maybe if I had grown up in my Grandfathers time it would be different...who knows.

Think about it now though, if everyone paid a bit closer attention to everything thats been going on, maybe they wouldnt have to be stressed. A lot of baby boomers are most likely stressed out about this financial crisis right now as they are closing in on retirement and they have just lost 30 or more percent of their retirement nest egg. Though, Bogle, the Vanguard founder, says that if they had listened to his investment philosophies and used target retirement accounts that automatically adjust for you based on your retirement year, they would not have gotten hit hard at all because as you get closer to retirement he would have had your investments switch to more conservative investments, such as cash, bonds, etc...

Who knows the right way to invest, it all depends on what you are personally comfortable with, but what is money worth if you can even sleep well at night, and you are constantly stressed out? Though I am younger than these baby boomer's my advice to anyone is to pay yourself first, put money aside to an emergency fund that is in a high yield savings account, then consistently put money away into investment accounts (IRA's, 401k's, and brokerage accounts) to invest for your future. I feel that if you follow those simple instructions always put some money away for yourself, and choose investments that are right for you as well as right for your retirement time line, that should alleviate a lot of stress. Start as early as you can, and put as much money as you feel comfortable doing, it'll start to add up quickly and it will feel great and make you want to do it more.

Also, the best thing you can do is to educate yourself on personal finances, investments and the economy. There are plenty of magazines out there, books, and websites that can help you learn so that you can take control of your money as opposed to have someone else constantly take some of your earnings every money in investment management fees. And hey, be real with yourself, if you don't have the time to master your investments, leave it to someone else then, you dont want to risk losing that nest egg of yours.

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