My job as a financial advisor, as I see it, is to help my clients negotiate successfully through their financial life and work toward their goals along the way. But I’ve always felt that for them to be successful, most of the burden falls on them. Just like the old adage says, “if it is to be, it’s up to me.”
I offer what I think is my best advise based on their circumstances and based on what else I see going on in the world that could impact them, either directly or indirectly. As general trends go in our country today, it’s hard to see that we, collectively, are going in a path that will lead us in a positive direction. In my own clients, I see some good savers that are ready for the future but many more that may be scaling back their retirement plans because the money just isn’t there.
Maybe we’ve had it too good the last few decades and so we just didn’t try as hard as our parents. That’s tough for anyone to admit. Do we want to be better? A full 43% of Baby Boomers surveyed by AARP in November 2013 described their present financial situation as “worse than expected.” Craig L. Israelsen suggested in a July 2011 article on the website that U.S workers aren’t saving enough and because of that are pretending that “building a better investment portfolio” will solve their lack-of-saving problem. He correctly states that contributions are largely controllable by the investor, while performance, particularly in the short run, is not. It’s easier to blame bad markets for a lack of investment savings than it is to blame a lack of saving, period.
Sometimes not saving is not income-related….you have a good job but simply spend beyond your means. I have little sympathy for those folks. Sometimes people just don’t earn very much or they just can’t find a job. In those cases it is easy to blame tough luck but sometimes that bad luck might be the result of our decisions as well—decisions that could go all the way back to high school or college days!
The National Center for Education Statistics shows that the number of college students graduating in 2012 with a “Mathematics and Statistics” degree was 18,842. It was 24,800 graduates in 1971. A 24% decrease. Conversely, there were 38,993 graduates with “Parks, Recreation, Leisure, and Fitness Studies” degrees in 2012, while only 1,621 such graduates in 1971. That’s an increase of over 2300%! Careers that use a lot of math typically pay more than careers in parks and rec. From that metric it appears we’re going the wrong way. Why is that? Are students choosing the easier majors or are colleges creating an easier degree path to lower paying jobs?
Are we as a society just looking for the easier path? In 2000 there were 8,471,453 people on Federal Income Supplement Program (disability), according to the Social Security Administration. Today there are 14,285,956. Is our workplace really 68% more dangerous than 14 years ago? The USDA says food stamp recipients in 2000 were 17,472,535, today they number 46,548,000. That’s 15 out of every 100 people, versus 6 out of every 100 just 14 years ago. The US Census Bureau says today there’s roughly 37 million more people in the U.S. than in 2000 and there’s 29 million more on food stamps. Really?
I have no doubt that many people, through no fault of their own or through true misfortune, need this government assistance. They should get it. I also have no doubt that even more people are abusing the system because they can. It’s much easier to let someone else carry the load if they will. (See: )
But eventually it may break the back of our country.

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