Monday, September 11, 2017

The Allure Of Illusions - Five Favorite Financial Myths

The reality of "Facts" Blow Myths Apart!
Have you ever wondered why so many people find magic alluring? It seems many of us are drawn to a good illusion and this proves true for most people in their daily life as well. The problem is whether simply too lazy to question what they see or lacking the imagination to pull back the curtain to reveal the truth they often choose to accept what is presented to them as reality rather than go to the effort to seek more. A myth is often defined as any invented story, idea, or concept, an imaginary or fictitious thing, or an unproved or false collective belief that is used to justify a social institution. The entertainment industry has flourished as society seeks any diversion to pull our attention away from the sharp edges of reality and into the soft comfort of escape. This may be the result of past experiences where we have learned, we can't handle the truth! 

In some ways, it could be said that our culture has become obsessed with avoiding what is real. The crux of this article is about some of our society's favorite myths that feed directly into the economy and how we feel about our financial security. While it could be argued these have more to do with how we feel about life it cannot be denied that most people make many of their financial decisions based on the assumption the below statements are true. As a society, we rapidly choose to embrace and often choose not to question them because of the discomfort it would undoubtedly create. Sure many other myths exist or you can slice and dice them in other ways but the five below are very common and should be enough to remind you and even shed a bit of light upon the fact we are vulnerable at any time to having reality raise its' ugly head.

Believing Myths Is A Head In Sand Approach
Government is for the people and by the people - Seriously? After the dog and pony show, we experienced during the last presidential primary all illusions of that should have been erased. It left us with choosing the least of two evils. After all the talk about "we the people" the fact is the average "person" is far removed from the power to decide important issues.

Financial planning means you only have to start saving a little money each year to guarantee an easy retirement.  - The fact is life is a casino where our future is tenuous at best. Much of our circumstances and lives revolve around money and the number of options it gives us when we possess it. I intentionally used the term "casino" to conjure up the image of financial fortune. Which you can lose in a blink of an eye if things go against you. This myth includes things such as the promises made by the government and others such as pension plans and financial institutions will indeed be honored.

You have rights and that we are not slaves - I defer to a few lines from a blog by Gerry Spence who has spent his lifetime representing and protecting victims of the legal system from what he calls The New Slave Master: big corporations and big government. In his blog, Spence wrote; The Moneyed Master has closed its doors against the people and sits on its money like an old hen on rotten eggs. The people will not prevail. With its endless propaganda the Moneyed Master has caused its slaves to believe they are free.

Your life will progress and move along pretty much as you have planned - When you think back over the years of your life if you are like most people things have not unfolded as you had planned. You may not be in the occupation you trained for or with your true love. Throughout our life watershed events occur that we have little control over, this holds true when it comes to your finances as well. Things such as having an investment or pension plan go south can be very unsettling. The thought that things could be worse does not mean they will become so, this is a reason to count your blessings. 

Those in charge or above you care about you and will protect you -  Well of this we can hope but more than one person has been sliced and diced by the people he or she trusted most. History shows when push comes to shove it is not uncommon for a person to look out for the person they treasure the most and that is often him or her self. Politicians and those in power tend to throw people under the bus rather than rise up and take responsibility for the problems they create.

My apologies if this post has been a downer or seems overly negative, however, it is what it is and it was written for a reason. Best stated by a comment I read on another site, these myths add up to where "This is not a can of worms but a warehouse stacked with pallets of cans of worms."  Because of how believing the above myths can impact our lives it is important we recognize their existence. This is not to say that we cannot by making good and reasonable choices eliminate much of the risk we encounter by just getting out of bed each morning. Developing the habit of pressing on and forward to complete solid and reasonable goals is the best medicine to combat a deck that is often stacked against us. Be careful out there!

Footnote; Most investors think that even if things go downhill fast that they will be smart enough to get out of the markets. After the debacle in 2008 where they saw the market take nasty and violent swings they learned a few things, this time, they figure they will get out early.
A scenario exists where the market falls like a flash crash on steroids and investors are trapped. Circuit breakers have been put in place to arrest panic style moves but if trade is halted, and the market simply does not reopen for days or even weeks suddenly it is a new game. As remote as this might seem the article below explores this possibility and the far-reaching ramifications.

1 comment:

  1. Bruce,

    While the tone of your piece is a tad negative, I'm in agreement with what you have said. However, the average guy still believes he is protected by a bill of rights. It is going to get unpleasant when reality sinks in . . .