With all the endless chatter about the economy most of us are all too well aware that it could be a lot better. How much better, well if we can manage to remove descriptions such as sluggish, measured, slow, protracted, we might be able to understand better that the economy has challenges that are right in front of us. The challenges I’m talking about are saving (cash) and deleveraging (paying down credit cards for example) and their appearance in our culture after a very long hiatus.
Now I don’t want to rail on the penchant for America’s reckless consumption, because there isn’t any. That’s because as the 21st century economy workforce evolves to include more women and younger more technically skilled workers there has been seen a shift in the style of consumption. Look at my Monthly Jobs Message and see that retail, technical professions, healthcare, restaurants and drinking establishments are doing the most hiring in our economy. And while I have no say in the consumption habits of American I know from many years of research and analysis that this country has allowed its consumption goals outstrip it retirement goals with negative consequences made more evident by the recent fiscal crisis.
I’m talking about saving. After the initial shock of the crisis there were a number of government statistics released by the Department of Commerce that showed a sharp rise in the national savings rate.* Sure people were scared but they also woke up to the fact that they were not where they should be with regard to their savings. In fact although there are even more issues facing consumers regarding the amount of debt that is being paid off, saving is still viewed as the hardest but most important financial discipline for all of us. And even with the recent rises in July to an annualized 4.2 percent, the national average since 1959 has been a 6.9% national savings rate!
So what’s my point? Of course it’s to try and save, not only because it’s a direct investment in ourselves but because it is the one action over the years (maybe weight loss being the second) that I have never found a single client to regret. And the magic behind saving is that any amount will accumulate faster than you think. So while I concentrate on managing your investment goals of performance, liquidity and above all capital security, your homework is to reward yourself for your hard work and do your best to save. And trust me no matter how economically well off people are nurturing a good savings discipline is as hard as…well almost as hard as losing weight (even for those who don’t have to).