Wall Street is Like a Middle School Playground: How do you Plan to Retire?

I turned 40 this year and decided that it was time to try and understand what steps I need to take to be able to retire someday, with the full understanding that Social Security simply will not be the answer for my generation. I realize that it takes more than just a Social Security check for most people to be able to retire anymore, but even that paltry check is unlikely to be there when I hit retirement age.

After prompting by my accountant mother (thanks Mom!) I started to research the best ways to invest money for retirement a few years ago. And I started paying attention to the stock market. Granted, I began watching the stock market in 2008, and we all know that, since that time, the market has experienced one of its most turbulent episodes in its history. So, my next statement could be off the mark for people who have been tracking these issues for a long time. And if this statement is incorrect, I would love to hear from you.

Is it just me, or is the stock market as temperamental as a school child? I am astounded by the roller coaster of ups and downs in the market, which seems to be wildly impacted by rumors and hearsay or by the latest statement from the Fed.

The stock market holds the hopes and dreams of many Americans, including many in my generation who are looking for ways to pay for their retirement. The roller coaster of the past several years, combined with the despicable actions of many bankers on Wall Street, have made people very nervous about where they should place their money.

And yet the buzz surrounding the Facebook IPO made it clear that people still want a get rich quick scheme and see the market as a place to make that happen.

What do you think? Have you changed your investment strategies since the economic collapse in 2008? Do you have any faith in the stock market or do you feel that your money would be better invested elsewhere? Are you depending on social security to fund your retirement? Have you put much thought into this issue?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

11 Comments

Filed under Career Planning, End of Life, Income inequality, Poverty, Role of Government

11 responses to “Wall Street is Like a Middle School Playground: How do you Plan to Retire?

  1. Life has taught me there are no get rich quick schemes. Playing the stock market requires a lot of research, capital that you are prepared to lose, time and yes… luck. Everything I have heard says that the market volatility will continue for a good number of years yet whilst countries reduce their debt and I prefer an investment where the gains may not be quite so large, but my capital is safe. Thanks for swinging by my place!

    • Thanks so much for rreading and for your comment! I’m with you – I may put a little money in the market to see how it does, but I will not depend on that for my retirement. Tricky stuff. I wish it was more clear how we could create a path to retire, but it is very complicated. Thanks again for your comment. Hope you’ll stop back again!

  2. I have retired, at 56, but I’m looking for ways to earn more money than my retired husband’s pension provides. I’d rather fulfill my dream of writing for children, but there’s little money in it. I have enjoyed playing the stock market, but only when I was working and could scrape up some money. I lost plenty, especially when the housing market took a nose dive. Our TSP (thrift savings plan with the fed govt) lost thousands, too. It was a real heartbreaker. However, if I had a bit extra right now, I’d be thinking about where to put it, as stocks can still be a fun gamble.
    I think anyone has as much chance to gain in the stock and money markets, if a dart was thrown blindfolded… or carefully researched. I guess it all depends on how you operate!

    • I am so sorry to hear that. I know you know you are not alone in your struggles this past several years. What a difficult thing for our country. I have family members who had to work a few extra years beffore they retired after the losses they sustained. But I love the idea of retiring early to do something that will still bring some income, but which doesn’t feel like work at all. I admire you for doing that. Retirement is a tricky thing in our society. And it seems like you need a business degree to figure it out! Thanks so much for reading and for your comment.

  3. My basic strategy has been to wait for the market to have one of its crashes (like last week, or the one in December) and then put as much money as I can afford to. It’s definitely not a perfect strategy, but it’s worked out for me reasonably well so far. But yeah, the stock market is very risky, there’s no way around it. You can mitigate your risk with mutual funds, but even that’s nothing close to a guarantee of success. Probably the one thing that’s most guided my investing is that the value of any given stock or fund is imaginary. That is, it only has the value that people give it. Most of the time, I think the markets seem to have a lot more to do with psychology than finance or economics.

    • Hi there! I thought I replied to your comment last night, but maybe it didn’t go through. Yeah, I think it is interesting to see what strategies younger people are using to plan for retirement. Your strategy sounds like a fairly sound one, unless the market takes another long-term dive just as you reach retirement age, which happened to so many people this time around. I guess the best answer is really to diversify investments and take a long-picture approach. Thanks so much for your comment!

  4. One of the best things I did to prepare for retirement was to take out a tax sheltered annuity. Check into it, if they are still available!

    • Thanks, Hugh! I’ll look into that. I think this is going to be very complicated for people my age. The pendulum may swing back to helping take care of people as they age for my grandkids generation, but I think my generation is going to be caught in the middle of this.

  5. Hi Jennifer. If your hard-earned savings are looking for a safe home (retirement), do the necessary study and understand risk vs.reward. Certain load-free mutual fund companies, like Vanguard, give excellent, free advice on their sites. I’d add, “the curtain raiser” knows what’s up.

    • Thanks for the advice. I am just so curious about what all of this will look like in 15-20 years when I retire. It seems to be an evolving issue. Thanks for stopping by and for your comment!

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