The answer was in the sealed envelope. The return address in the upper left corner revealed the name of the brokerage house in charge of the care and feeding of my retirement funds. OK, so we all know what has happened to the economy, the stock market and our retirement dreams but the real question is – “what the hell do we do now?”
I would like to hope that it will be unnecessary to apply for a job as a Wal-Mart greeter but fear has a funny way of painting pictures in our minds. The newspaper and television shows are full of experts telling us what we should have done. Advertisements tell us to switch what’s left of our funds to a new and presumably safer form of investment. It’s so easy to know what we should have done in retrospect and it seems that investment companies of every stripe are playing the 20/20 hindsight card. Gee, if only I could change the past there are a lot of things I would do differently – important things like getting more exercise, exotic travel and movie starlets I would have dated.
But back to what is left in the old age account. Depending on the proximity and the forced nature of impending retirement, we might still be able to continue and enhance our savings program…and pray. But more likely, we feel the strong need to do something now! Like find a magic pill that will restore our financial health and make the past eight months nothing more than a bad dream.
The contrarian in me insists that the majority of people do the wrong thing the majority of the time. And the sceptic in me views the opinions of ad writers and talk show experts with a healthy degree of cynicism. What should we do now? How about employing the same principles of good investing that we always did – or should have?
Use our natural senses when confronted with any kind of financial opportunity. If it doesn’t feel, smell, sound, look and taste right – don’t do it. But just as important are the other senses that don’t get recognized very often and may be the most important at this time – trust our sixth sense – instinct. Instinct, when listened to, will always tell us what is right and what is wrong. Common sense, the seventh, will tell us never to invest in something we don’t understand.
Before opening the envelope referred to earlier, it may be helpful to consider the importance of the eighth sense to our health and well-being – a sense of humour.
Good luck and welcome to Wal-Mart.
Bob is a recovering stockbroker who is nearing retirement and trying to define what that is. His vices include writing, golf, travel, cooking and reading. www.RobertJBannon.com