This Retirement Number Should Make You Sick

|October 5, 2020

We read something disgusting last week.

It was an opinion piece detailing the depth of the financial pain caused by the COVID-19 shutdown.

The statistics weren’t anything new.

A prominent economist predicts half of Americans 55 and up will retire at or near the poverty line. That means they’ll live on less than $20,000 of income each year.

That thought should make you sick.

COVID-19 has made the problem worse, of course. The pain is certainly sharper.

But this is not a COVID-19 problem.

As so many like to argue these days, the virus isn’t the main cause of death… It’s merely an aggravating factor.

It brings us to the disgusting part.

Not Working

The author argues recent events threaten to wash away the progress made by Social Security and Medicare… you know, the stuff the government has done for us.

But he never acknowledges that we’re living in the land with the greatest financial markets in history… would-be retirees have more saving and investing options than ever before… and the money supply per capita has never been higher in this country.

Nobody should be broke in a nation filled with such robust opportunity and financial sophistication.

But they are.

And the numbers are soaring in the wrong direction.

What makes us gag is that so many pundits and experts continue to wave their hand, calling on the government for more “help.”

We need more programs, they argue, more reform, more separation between wealth and the folks who make it.

Few folks, though, have bothered to stop and acknowledge the problem isn’t the system.

It’s the folks in it.

Money in All the Wrong Places

We’ll remind you again that Apple (APPL) has the world’s largest market value.

It’s worth $2 trillion – oddly, that’s roughly the size of the latest stimulus package being argued in Washington.

It doesn’t make a single product that any of us need… especially in retirement.

The company has sold more than a billion iPhones in the last decade. Almost all of them are hinged to a monthly plan that costs a hundred bucks or more.

A college graduate who wisely sticks a hundred bucks into stocks each month and merely earns the market’s average over his working years will retire with nearly $400,000 in his account.

Right now, that would put him in the top 15% of retirees.

It’s no wonder Apple shareholders are getting rich. They’re zapping up America’s retirement income.

And you know what would have been a whole lot more fruitful than paying for a monthly Netflix (NFLX) subscription and spending the last decade watching episodes of Pawn Stars? Buying shares of the company and watching them soar from $8 per share to more than $525 today.

Plunking a hundred bucks a month into that stock would have done immense good.

A Spending Problem

But there is some hope – some signs folks are curtailing their spending.

The average age of a car these days has crept to a new record… about 12 years.

We’re not sure, though, whether that’s a sign of progress or desperation. After all, car loans are now stretching for six or seven years as the average price for a new car continues to climb to record highs… now at $38,000.

In five years, that car will be worth half that figure. And in those same five years, we expect to be counting down to the day the Dow breaks the 100K barrier.

We could go on, but you get the point.

This isn’t a problem the government can solve. It’s a simple spending problem.

Fixing the problem is no different from the way we deal with problems with Mother Nature.

When we give handouts to the critters in our backyard, bad things happen.

They don’t head south in the winter. They don’t learn to fend for themselves. Disease spreads.

Eventually, they starve to death. (Heaven help us if we introduce the birds and the bees to “Netflix and chill.”)

We argue it’s time to try something different.

What we’re doing doesn’t work. The government won’t save your retirement.

We’ll conclude with the same words we used to debut our breakthrough investment philosophy last week.

The conventional way of doing things has not worked.

It is time to do something different.

We worry most folks aren’t listening to those words. We fear most investors are doing what they’ve long been told. They’re still doing the conventional.

They’re going to die broke.

Are you worried about retiring broke? Tell us about it at