During the 1980’s there was a very popular commercial by Wendy’s. An elderly lady ordered a burger at a generic fast food counter. Upon seeing how puny and pathetic her tiny burger was, she grilled the sales clerk repeatedly - “Where’s the beef?” The commercial was a huge hit and “Where’s the beef?” was a well known catch phrase.
These days “Where’s the beef?” could easily be applied to the 401(k)s & IRAs of many people. In Daniel R. Solin’s book, “The Smartest 401(k) Book You’ll Ever Read”, he points out that “the typical twenty-something only invests 50.4% of his or her account in stock mutual funds.” You can’t keep up with inflation that way! Mr. Solin goes on to say that as we get older, that figure is also pretty timid. “The typical worker in their forties invests only 54.3% in stock funds.”
It doesn’t matter how old you are. Even people on the verge of retirement should be invested in stock mutual funds with a good part of their long term savings. After all, you could be retired for 20-30 years.
Stocks have been the only investment which has beaten inflation over the long term. And we NEED to prepare for inflation! Did you know that in 1989 (20 years ago), a loaf of bread costs an average of 0.67? And a postage stamp was just 0.25?
Mr. Solin also points out that “If you invested $1.00 in blue chip stocks in 1926, it would be worth $3077.33 today. That pencils out to a 10.42 average yearly return.”
Don’t be too fancy trying to pick the “right” fund. Look for mutual funds with long histories (10 years or longer) and low expenses. High management fees can really affect the return on your investment.
We will be looking at a few other ways to put some “Beef” back into your 401(k) in a future article.