Stocks may go up and down, but a hot tub is forever

August 04, 2002|By SUSAN REIMER

I WAS THE High Priestess of Dollar Cost Averaging. I worshipped at the altar of Dollar Cost Averaging. I believed in Dollar Cost Averaging.

For years, I have saved myself broke with automatic transfers from my paycheck to 401k accounts, savings accounts, IRAs, stock accounts and educational mutual fund accounts. I even contributed to a Christmas club.

I believed that over time this drip, drip, drip approach to saving would protect me from the flood-or-drought nature of the economy and the stock market.

But for the past two years, I have watched the bottom lines in those accounts sink lower with every statement -- even as I was putting money in. I feel as though I have been transfusing a patient through one artery while he bleeds to death through another.

Well, no more.

I have pulled the plug on these automatic investments in my future. I am living in the now.

How stupid do I look, Merrill Lynch? What kind of a chump do you take me for, Fidelity?

Did you think I was going to keep giving you money so you could blow it? I feel as if I have a brother with a big-time gambling problem. Well, you are cut off. Welcome to tough love.

I trusted you guys with my future, and it has evaporated in your hands. Thanks to you, I won't be traveling or living at the beach in my retirement. I will be working in my retirement.

So, no more juice from me. Go pitch the twentysomethings. You might be able to convince them that the stock market will bounce back in their lifetimes, but I am not buying that line anymore.

Go pitch the simple girls. You might convince them that "There are bargains out there," but I am gonna slipcover my sofa.

I am gonna replace my living room rug and my kitchen counter. I might even buy a hot tub.

You boys have stolen my future, so I am living in the now. There won't be a "comfortable retirement" for me, so I intend to be comfortable right now.

Call me bitter, but I think the whole 401k thing was the Big Lie. Corporate America declared that it couldn't afford to fund our retirements, so it gave us the tools to do it ourselves -- the magic 401k.

What they didn't tell us was, our 401k money was going right back into the pockets of corporate America. Then CFOs and CEOs lied to their accountants, their stockholders, the SEC and Congress about what they did with it.

What a scam!

Instead of employers funding the retirement of their workers, the workers are funding the stock options, golden parachutes and defense attorney's fees of their employers.

Can you believe it? We have been betting our pension checks that WorldCom and Enron wouldn't get caught!

Meanwhile across town, instead of helping us choose the stocks that would pay dividends in retirement, the boys at Merrill Lynch, Fidelity and the like were talking us into buying crummy stocks that were only good for commissions and bonuses. We were literally paying for bad advice!

On the Monday after Sept. 11, incensed that the symbol of our robust economy had been made into a crematorium for our financial brain power, I called my broker and said, "Buy," and I scraped together some money to show my support for capitalism.

Now, as the Dow Jones continues to fall through the floor, we are told "Buy! There are bargains out there!"

Fool me once, shame on me. But you won't fool me twice, because I will be out shopping for a hot tub.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.