All of us at New England Capital Financial Advisors would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a very warm holiday season and a very healthy, safe and prosperous New Year. It is one of our greatest pleasures to exchange season’s greetings and thank those whose friendship and goodwill are so highly valued.
The holiday season always reminds me of how grateful I am. I know there is too much poverty, war, sickness, suffering and loneliness in our world. Even common courtesy seems far less common these days. But today, even for one day, let’s stop to count our blessings and be grateful for the time and place we are living in. There’s a great quote from actor, comedian and investment commentator, Ben Stein. He said “I cannot tell you anything that, in a few minutes, will tell you how to be rich. But I can tell you how to feel rich-which is far better, let me tell you firsthand, than being rich. Be grateful.”
For those who would like to forget the misery of today and long for the “good old days”, I’d ask you what time would you like to return to?? Radio commentator, Earl Nightingale often said “We live in the golden age that people have dreamed of for thousands of years. We live better than kings of 2000 years ago.”
Peter Diamandis in his book “Scaling Abundance” picks a random year of 1523, 500 years ago. Imagine living off the land, far from the pollution of our modern day. But remember a very small percentage of people were kings and queens; or even lords and ladies living in castles. Even if you were part of that elite class (yesteryear’s 1 percenters) you still lived without healthcare. I don’t consider leeches and bloodletting healthcare! You also didn’t have indoor plumbing, electricity, central heating when it’s cold, air conditioning when it’s hot, nor the ability to travel by car, train or plane. If you’re still not grateful, put a chamber pot in your bedroom, shut off all electricity and please leave all your faucets off.
If you were one of the bottom 99% you spent your day tied to the land with hard labor, dawn to dusk, 7 days a week. You dined on stale bread and watered down milk, or maybe boiled potato and onion soup. One third of all your children died before age 16 and if they did survive their lifespan was 35.
How about 100 years ago? Yes. The roaring ‘20s were the “good old days”. Well, again, no central heating or A/C. But we did heat our houses with coal that we shoveled into the stove or furnace. Hopefully we worked less than 80 hours a week but probably 10-12 hours per day for 6 days per week. For that labor we (able bodied men) were rewarded with pay of 9 to 17 cents per hour, equivalent to $1.48 to $2.80 today. 10% of children between 10-15 years old were working at much lower wages.
The leeches were gone but antibiotics wouldn’t be discovered for another 5 years. The average life expectancy for men was 56 and 58 for women. Forget TV, cell phones or computers.
Were we better off 50 years ago? Not for retirement according to John Rekenthaler, Director of Research at Morningstar, a financial service company that rates and ranks investments. He calculated the median income for retirees in 1973 and compared it to today’s retirees. He considered Social Security, private sector pensions, retirement plan participation rates and reasonable withdrawal rates from those plans. Then he of course adjusted those retirement incomes for inflation.
The results? The median inflation adjusted monthly income for private sector retirees in 1973 was $1475 compared to $1945 today. Today’s retirees are earning over 30% more income than their 1973 counterparts. Nostalgic thinking about the Golden Age of retirement where everyone could be assured of a financial worry-free retirement wasn’t 50 years ago. It’s today; or maybe it could even be better tomorrow!
Instead of wishing for the return of yesterday, my vote is to stay grateful in the present, today, and immensely hopeful for tomorrow. It was Martin Luther King who said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
Happy Holidays from all of us at New England Capital!
IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION
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