When I was a young boy, the path to retirement was simpler. For the most part, if you saved your money regularly, paid your mortgage off, and lived modestly, you could retire well. This was partly because inflation was low since the dollar was pegged to gold and also because most employees could expect a company pension and health benefits until the day they died. It did not take much intelligence to have a secure, financial future.
Today, we live in a world that requires an extremely high, financial intelligence to retire well.
It is no longer enough to save money, as higher inflation and taxes wipe out your earnings. You can’t rely on a company pension because most companies don’t offer one. Instead, it is expected that you contribute to a 401(k) plan that may or may not provide you a secure retirement and that is simply a glorified, tax-deferred savings account that benefits the rich, not you.
These changes are because of two actions by the U.S. government that I’ve written extensively about, most notably in my book Conspiracy of the Rich. In 1971, Nixon took the dollar off the gold standard, making the dollar a currency instead of money. And in 1974, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act was passed, paving the way for 401(k) plans, forcing uneducated workers into the stock market, and creating the financial services industry.
It’s taken about three decades, but we’re seeing the devastating effects of those actions today as individuals and countries are living on the edge of financial disaster.
On an individual level, take for instance a young friend of mine’s father whose dad worked his whole life in an old-world industrial plant. Every time my friend talked with his dad, his dad would mention how long it was until his retirement, where he’d collect a pension and health benefits and enjoy golf a few times a week and sports on TV. There were no savings to speak of, some stock options decimated by the economic downturn, much debt, and no other plan. Unfortunately, only a few months before my friend’s dad hit the minimum retirement age, the plant went for sale, found no buyers, and closed. Now he, along with hundreds of others at that plant, cannot find a new job, have no savings, and are looking at a very insecure, financial future. For him, it may be too late.
On a national level, look at the Euro Zone. According to The Wall Street Journal, “The global economy faces a depression-era collapse in demand if Europe doesn’t quickly act to dramatically boost the size of its debt-crisis firewall, implement pro-growth policies and further integrate the euro zone, the head of the International Monetary Fund warned Monday.”
As IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde remarked over the weekend, the Euro Zone’s efforts to stymie debt problems “is about avoiding a 1930s moment, in which inaction, insularity, and rigid ideology combine to cause a collapse in global demand... A moment, ultimately, leading to a downward spiral that could engulf the entire world.” If Europe collapses, the world goes down with it — and the jury is still out on what will happen. But the world’s financial experts are sending out the warning cry.
As you read these stories above, they probably sound vaguely familiar, have little emotional impact on you, and you may have even skipped over them.
These stories echo stories that have been shared for many years now. The news is filled with stories of people living in countries on the edge of financial collapse, and then buffered by good news here and there to keep us all from falling into complete despair.
The reality is that we have become used to living on the edge, and we’re forgetting what it means to live comfortably inland. This is not all bad, if you have the right mindset.
Living on the Edge Requires a Financial Education
Living on the edge requires alertness and intelligence, you cannot give up or be lulled or else you will fall. Each step must be calculated and taken carefully, but confidently, to get to safety. The only other option is to do nothing and hope someone will save you —which is akin to suicide.
It’s for times like these that the Rich Dad Company was formed. This website, our books and DVDs, our coaching, and financial education all exist to help equip you for the perils of our modern economy so that you can be sure to have the knowledge and practical application required to survive and thrive while others fail and fall.
For many, there is no choice about living on the edge. The die has been cast for us by people much more powerful and influential than us. But we can control our actions on the edge. It’s my hope you’ll step forward confidently and smartly, equipped with as much financial knowledge and courage as you can gain and muster. It sure beats the alternative.
To increase your financial education now, click here to find out about our free resources and online community.