Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Being Average

I talk quite a bit about finance and investing every day.  Not everyone I talk to always sees eye to eye on everything I discuss.  This is good because it helps me argue my position.  If you have a hard time arguing something you believe might want to either do more research, or perhaps alter your thinking.

When it comes to finance something that irritates me is what I call...solid investing advice for the average person.  Average advice such as maxing out your 401k, TSP or Roth IRA and investing in some major index like the S&P 500, DJIA, or Total Market Index.  Investing in a 529 plan to save money for your kids college.  Wanting to be a military millionaire isn’t about being average. Let’s face it…average sucks, and below average can be devastating. No guy says…boy I wish I can be average height when I grow up.  No one says...someday I hope my kids have an average IQ.  Being born or living in America already probably makes you above average in many ways.  Our standard of living is certainly above average compared to many countries. 

You didn’t join the world’s greatest military in the world to be average.  You hopefully joined to help become something you might not be able to otherwise.  I would have never been able to go to school for free if I hadn’t joined the military.  Getting a 17 on my ACT certainly wasn't going to win any academic achievement awards.  I did retest and later got a 21 on my ACT...the lower score was due to...shall we say technical difficulties.

For some reason being average is acceptable.  For military or civilian millionaires this is not acceptable.  Strive to be the best. To do this…it does require extra effort.  I heard somewhere that people plan more for a Halloween party than they do for their retirement.  I believe this to be a true statement.  So, if you have spent more time planning than are already above average.

This brings me to quick advice.  Quick advice seems to be the average advice given to a broad range of people.  Whether or not these people who follow such advice do well is another story.  We just do not know.  I would bet that this advice has failed miserably.  Had it worked, I feel that many baby boomers would have already left the work place.  Instead, a lot of them are working much longer than they had planned.  Is it their fault?  I don't think so.  Lots of things changed in the last 100 years.  We are not creatures of change...we try to avoid change.  Change makes people uncomfortable.

I am hoping that I will never fall into the category of giving out average advice to anyone.  Such advice can be found anywhere and in my opinion adds little to no value. The average
American has $10,700 in credit card debt. You do not want to be average, or normal in this category.  Strive for excellence...but realize setbacks will occur.  I've had my share of setbacks.  I had one last week when I didn't pass my CPA test.  I felt like quitting...but deep down I knew that wouldn't be acceptable.

When I joined the Army, the last thing I wanted to happen was to come home not being able to make it through basic training.  I know there were several people that didn't make it.  I felt bad for them.  One woman had tried 3 times get get through basic training.  She was in her early thirties and was running out of time to finish.  Each time she had some sort of physical injury.  To her...this was her opportunity to get out of a terrible situation.  I hope that she eventually made it through.

Life is about the journey.  Much like blogging about aren't going to find all your answers in one article.  You might find, a specific answer...but certainly not all of them.  

One of my favorite TV series was the show LOST.  I heard great things about the show when it was being aired.  I opted to wait and watched it all on Netflix.  A lot of people were disappointed about the ending.  However...the ending in real life isn't that great either.  We all die in the end.  If you are religious and believe in an afterlife...perhaps a new journey will begin.  So...make the most of the life you have today.  Enjoy the journey that is to unfold...and most importantly...leave your comments below.

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