It was my Birthday yesterday so I've been contemplating stuff. For one thing, if I had invested $1 per day in the stock market since the day I was born, today I would have $1,335,799.45. You know how they tell you to sponsor a kid in Africa for $1/day – why not sponsor your own grandchildren and make sure they will be Millionaires (inflation-adjusted) when they get to your age? A shortcut for that is to invest the first $3,650 to cover their first 10 years the day they are born and then add another $365 each birthday – you'll actually come out around $3M at 60.
That's all it takes to ensure your family's financial security and, if you pick nice dividend-paying stocks like AT&T (T), Pfizer (PFE), Walgreens (WBA), Coca-Cola (KO), IBM (IBM), Cisco (CSCO), 3M (MMM), Proctor and Gamble (PG), JP Morgan (JPM) and McDonalds (MCD) – you'll be nicely divesified in Dow components.
Reinvesting the dividends is key, by the way. Without doing that, you'd be at $400,000!
If your kids, like mine, are already in college and you missed the first 20 years of $1/day, don't despair, you can catch up by calculating how much money there should be using a Compound Rate Calculator and you can see where you should be after so many years by starting with $365 and adding $365 per year for X amount of years. So, at 20, my kids should have $27,142.60 – if they had saved nothing, that's what we'd need to catch up. $27,142.60 is the cost of not putting in $1 per day for 20 years ($7,300).
So, Advice #1 from the old man is stop building your wealth so you can "leave it to your children and grandchildren" and start actually doing something for them NOW. Setting up an account for them and letting them see how savings can make their money grow over the years is a lot more valuable than wrting them a lump-sum check after you're dead.
I was born in 1963 and the S&P 500 was down 8.81% in 1962 and, although Kennedy was assassinated in November of 1963, the market was up 22.6% that year. 1964 was the beginning of Johnson's "Great Society" and Federal Taxes were cut 20% (Kennedy's plan) and the market popped another 16.4%.
Most market years were good until 1973 when we had Watergate, etc and the market dropped 14.3% – the Dow finished the year at 850 and dropped another 25.9% in 1974 but that's OK, in 1975 and 1976, we had 37% and 23.83% gain. That's the value of constantly investing – you catch those dips!
Of course, you have to change with the times. In 1963, the Dow Jones was almost unrecognizable to kids today as the Dow of 1903 was to us. Here are the companies that made up the Dow in 1903:
And here's who was in the Dow when I was born, 60 years later:
And now we have:
Imagine when our grandchildren are 60 years old, these companies will be as useful to them as The People's Gas Light and Coke Company are today. This image is the floor of the stock market in 1978 – just 15 years after the above picture. See how fast things change?
Of course people still use Leather and Rubber and Steel but they aren't industry leaders anymore – just stuff in the economy so the real value you can give to your grandchildren isn't money and it isn't stock but it's the UNDERSTANDING of how to invest over the long-term.
Advice #2: SOMEONE will have to move that money at some point – give your children and grandchildren the tools to make wise decisions – involve them in the process of wealth management NOW – not after you're gone!
20 years later, 1994:
What will happen next?
Who knows? But that's the fun of it – investing is a constantly evolving puzzle and we never have all the answers – our job is to make sure we have the right tools to make good decisions as we learn.