Financial Freedom Federation doesn’t spend a lot of time analyzing the demographics of the people who subscribe to our magazine. We know that you’re interested in retirement investing, it’s more likely that you’re male than female, and that your average age is somewhere in the late 50s. But that’s not what I’d call a precise description.
In one sense, it doesn’t make any difference what our subscribers are like. Financial Freedom Magazine just gives advice on investing and money management. And whether the reader is 30 years old or 80, that advice won’t vary, readers are focused on retirement investing at every age. The factors that make a stock a good pick for a growth portfolio don’t change with age, and market conditions are either supportive or threatening whether you’re male or female.
But with that said, there are two things about our average subscribers that we try to keep in mind.
First, the average subscriber has less than 10 years to go before retirement, and many of you are already retired.
The first wave of the rising tide of Baby Boomers (those born in 1946) hit the traditional retirement age of 65 in 2011, and only a quarter of those people are still working full time. In a 2012 survey by an insurance company, of those born in 1946, the average age of those who had retired was 60 for men and 57 for women. Some had retired early due to health issues (37% of those who retired early) and quite a few had lost a job and couldn’t find a new one (6%), had taken a retirement incentive (4%), or just quit because they got tired of working (14%).
The most surprising finding to me was that almost two-thirds of those born in 1946 (63%) had already signed up to receive their Social Security benefits, including 17% of those who still had full-time employment.
It’s also worth noting that just 6% of the respondents in the survey said that they retired because they had enough money and could afford to.
Second, this hypothetical average reader has a portfolio that has been through three major market meltdowns.
The bursting of the Tech Bubble in 2000, the collapse of the housing market and subsequent Great Recession in 2008, and the pandemic market crash in 2020 each took major bites out of most retirement investing stashes whether they were in 401(k) accounts or privately handled.
The drawdowns on the Dow (which fell 40% in the crash that started in 2000, 48% in 2008, and 36% in 2020) and the S&P 500 (down 34% in 2000, 52% in 2008, and 34% in 2020) were bad enough. After all, these indexes were a mainstay of the conservative, “time, not timing” strategy used by responsible retirement investors who put their faith in index funds.
But even more damage was done in 2000 to investors who had succumbed to the siren song of the Nasdaq and its seemingly invincible tech stocks and put the bulk of their money into tech funds. The Nasdaq’s losses reached 78% from March 6, 2000 through September 30, 2002. The Index’s losses in 2008 and 2020 amounted to 41% and 30% respectively.
The practical consequences of keeping these two major facts in mind about the average reader are: 1) We’re writing for people who have done exactly what their investment advisors told them and have still been kicked in the teeth by the market… three times; 2) We always try to remember that many, if not most, of our readers are in a constant state of anxiety about their financial well-being and retirement investing as their retirement rushes at them year by year.
Accordingly, we try not to sugarcoat what’s happening in the market. We know our readers value getting an honest opinion, whether the news is good or not. People who have been burned by market “experts” have a very low tolerance for BS and no patience with excuses.
Honesty and taking responsibility is ultimately what Financial Freedom is all about. We can’t control the market and we can’t influence whether a company makes its numbers in its quarterly report or not. There are no sure things.
But we can promise you that the our editors and writers will give you the highest quality news, analysis, and retirement investing advice we can. And we will stand behind what we write.
About once a year, I like to throw in a pitch for my favorite form of charity giving. It’s the only thing you can give where you know, with real certainty, that the recipient really desperately needs it. It costs you nothing and it literally save lives.
It’s giving blood.
I know there are many reasons people choose not to give blood. It takes time and there’s always that needle phobia thing. But the emotional reward far outweighs the cost.
I’ve given over ten gallons of blood (not all at once, of course) and it’s a deeply satisfying thing to do.
I won’t go on about this, but in summer, the blood supply is always lower and the need higher. yourself or someone you love surviving an accident or operation because some stranger gave you a life-saving gift, you’ll see why I’m so insistent.
*This post has been updated from a previously published post