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A Love Letter to Millennials, From The Stock Market

   Posted On: August 9, 2016  |    Posted In: Personal Finance 101  |     Posted by: Broke Millennial®

Dear Millennials,

While reading The Wall Street Journal I came across an article I found quite distressing. Apparently, your generation is flocking to my bastard cousin, real estate, in the hopes of securing your financial future. You’re flippantly tossing around hurtful statements about how I “spook” you or putting your money in my grasp is nothing more than gambling. I’m not some two-bit slot machine you pump full of quarters in Vegas. I am The Stock Market and I believe it’s time the two of us have a little heart-to-heart.

Yes, there have been times I caused panic and destruction. Your history books teach you about Black Tuesday and your parents may have lost some money when I took a dive in 1987. Most of you are probably frightened by me because of what happened in 2008. I know I caused some of you to lose jobs while others graduated from college to face crushing unemployment rates. It makes sense why you view me as a wicked witch trying to lure you into a house made of candy, only to throw you in a stew. However, this is an exaggeration, which makes it clear to me you’ve spent more time debating whether or not to swipe right on Tinder than learning about me from reliable sources. Yes, there will be days we disagree and I cause your portfolio a little bit of pain, but if you only have the patience and commitment to tame me, then we can grow together.

My dearest Millennials, you are in the unique position of having what every investor craves: time. Time is exactly what will make you the next Warren Buffett. Well, that’s a lie. Time can help, but few people can make me their bitch quite like Buffett. Time is important because it helps you grow your wealth while sustaining future drops in the market. Time alleviates the pressure to quickly amass money in the later years of your life so you can retire. In fact, you can retire earlier if you learn how to master investing in your 20s vs your late 30s or heaven forbid into your 40s.

Speaking of retirement, how about those 401(k)s and IRAs you have all set up to prepare for your retirement? I’ve heard rumor you think those are enough to financially prepare for your future. First of all, jokes on you. If you have a 401(k) or IRA then you’re most likely already in bed with me. And yes, those are great starts to prepare you for the future, but the key to wealth is diversifying. One 401(k) plan will not a rich man make. That money is meant to support you from traditional retirement age, around 62, until you die which could be 30 years later. And remember, Uncle Sam will come for that money if it isn’t in a Roth account. If start teetering towards the point of outliving your stash of cash, then you better hope that you have really loving children.

For those of you interested in keeping all your surplus of money as cash in a savings account, I beg of you to think about the low interest rates. If you won’t need that little nest egg for five or 10 years then why are you stuffing it away under the proverbial mattress by putting it in a low-yield savings account? Your money is pitifully wasting away, when it can be used to make more money!

While we’re on the subject of diversifying, go ahead and invest in real estate but keep some funds with me too. The real estate market can burn you just as badly as the stock market. And even if the real estate is doing well, it doesn’t liquidate into cash particularly quickly when you’re in a bind.

If you’re willing to commit to this relationship and become a long-term investor, then we can do well together. You need to be able to handle your emotions and remember to buy low and sell high. When I take a dip, don’t run away screaming. Instead consider pumping more money into my waiting arms. While everyone else panics and sells, you can scoop up some cheap buys and watch as they begin to rise until you can sell high. Because the secret is: I’m a cyclical beast.

Your teachers probably told you that we should learn from history. Well, if your young brains are as open-minded as your generation claims to be, then learn from the history of investing. Those who are willing to establish a committed relationship with me through good times and bad, in sickness and in health, are handsomely rewarded. Those who run at the first sign of trouble will never amass the wealth I can afford them.

So my Millennials, I ask that you please reconsider your relationship with me. I can offer you both the danger of being with a bad boy and the power of being with one of the biggest players in the financial world. Plus, when you catch me on a good day I’m really not too hard on the eyes.

My most sincere love and gratitude,

The Stock Market

The post was originally published on August 3, 2013. 

Image taken from Pexels.

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32 responses to “A Love Letter to Millennials, From The Stock Market

  1. That was really a good one. Eventually you cannot rely on stock market as it has its own ups and downs frequently. Nice insight, loved your way of writing Broke

    1. Thank you! It certainly does have it’s ups and downs, but so does real estate. I’m glad you enjoyed the tone. It was fun to write and get all my sarcasm out.

  2. Side topic, but I’d love to learn about the genesis behind Econo.mag and how the spoils are divided. I’ve found running a mag style site to brutally difficult to sustain over the long run so I wish you guys the best.

    Off to read the articles now!

    1. Thanks for reading, Sam! I truly appreciate your support. I can send you an email about the genesis of the site.

  3. Here’s the problem I have with the market. 80% or more of trading is done by computers, and a good chunk of what’s remaining is controlled by hedge funds. There’s basically no chance for individual investors to impact the market. Millenials like to have a say in what they do, so this will make them very distrustful of the markets when there are opportunities in which they feel that they have more control.

    Bottom line, if Millenials feel the system is rigged, they’re going to go somewhere else without batting an eye.

  4. Man, what a great post. I’ve been reading quite a few articles lately related to millennials and our fear of investing. This is definitely the most unique! Great job 🙂

  5. Loved this. I LOL’d at the Warren Buffet comment. Millennials have a golden opportunity to invest early and set themselves up for success. It seems “new money” is more interested in funding real estate, side hustles and products that will get you that multi million dollar windfall. The truth is that type of success is very hard to come by but investing a little bit each month early on in life (and much more as you do better) will ALMOST guarantee you a rock star retirement.

  6. I love the writing style used in this post. I also read the other day that Millennials expect an average return of 12% in the stock market. The stock market will soon teach them otherwise, as Warren buffet is having a hard time making 12% in the stock market. They also complain about the historically low interest rates that’s going on right now when they’re buying homes. It’s very mind boggling.

  7. I love this! I made the mistake of skipping the starter home and am set to correct that mistake next week when our home sale goes through! Until next time (I’ll probably buy a home again just smarter this time around) I’m jumping on the index fund train!

  8. This was great to read. I haven’t heard much about millennials going the real estate route, so it’s nice to gain some insight about it. Club Thrifty had a great article about what the real average rate of return is. When people want to get more young millennials investing, they usually tout 10%+ returns, I’m glad when I started investing to expect a more realistic 6.5 to 7% return.

  9. Investing in the stock market here in the Philippines is a booming industry, but as what you said it is to risky to invest specially when you are a newbie in the said market. Good read!

  10. Great letter! So many factors at various times play into what and how you can invest in the market. As Canadian I need to invest in the American market to diversify. The Canadian market is a majority of energy and financial stocks so to truly diversify you need other industries.
    The problem right now is the weak CAD which makes those purchases in USD that much more expensive. But long term strategy is more important than 1 point in time. All millennials should be excited about money making money over the long term.

  11. Good stuff. I haven’t heard about millenials and their diesire to invest in real estate. I praise the ambition. But if they’re avoiding the stock market because they have little influence, then they should consider websites, not real estate. You can buy websites that are making money, and if you know a few things about SEO, you can make some tweeks so that you can recoop your money in less than a year, compared to decades with real estate.

    so millennials, if you’re reading thing, invest in websites!

  12. I think millennials are lucky as they still have some resources such as time to use than other groups. So I think they’d better think twice on how they use money and how they grow it.

  13. I find that a lot of people my age are skeptical of investing, because of “the risk.” They choose to put their money in savings or low-yield bonds. I want to scream and shake them: “You are loosing money to inflation!” I always like to point out certain large-cap stocks that yield higher than expected inflation rates.

  14. Guess why many people are not retiring right now? They took your advice and have been in the stock market for decades but their investments are not performing as well as expected.

    Time is great but if the market crashes during the time when you need your investments the most (i.e. In retirement), you’re out of luck. All that time building can be wiped out.

    Real estate has ups and downs but it also provides shelter, so no matter whether the market crashes or not you have somewhere to live.

    Ask yourself why banks won’t lend you money to buy stocks but they will lend you hundreds of thousand to buy a house. Real estate is as safe as it gets, while stocks are risky.

    Leave stock buying to Warren a Buffet unless you want to lose your shirt.

  15. I believe millennials are good at thinking outside the box and don’t just blindly follow the paths their parents took in life. For example, millennials would rather go it alone with Netflix and Hulu rather than hooking up to cable or satellite TV. Something unheard of only one generation ago.

  16. I think I need to stand up for the stock market. Contrary to the statement:

    “Most of you are probably frightened by me because of what happened in 2008. I know I caused some of you to lose jobs while others graduated from college to face crushing unemployment rates. It makes sense why you view me as a wicked witch trying to lure you into a house made of candy, only to throw you in a stew.”

    The stock market had nothing to do with the 2008 crash. That was caused by:
    1. Congressmen requiring Fannie and Freddie to buy lots of loans made to questionable borrowers because they were “helping the poor afford a home.”
    2. Greedy mortgage lenders making lots of these loans because Fannie and Freddie were buying them.
    3. Greedy people who couldn’t afford loans who would lie about their income to get one (or two or three as investments) because they could and to borrow as much as possible despite not being able to make the payment once the loans were due to reset their interest rates, thinking that they could just refinance at that time and make a lot of money.
    4. Greedy investment banks who found they could package a lot of FFF loans together and get a AAA credit raiting for them by compliant credit rating agencies.
    5. Foolish, greedy investment banks who discovered they could sell options on those collateralized debt obligations to each other as “insurance” against defaults, thinking they were covered for losses.
    6. Low moral home buyers who decided after using a lot of the money from their homes for vacations and lavish luxuries, that because they could not sell their home for the value of their loans, they would just walk away and leave someone else to pay the tab.

    And the beauty is, all of these corporate executives got to keep their jobs and their lavish perks and the consumers who used their homes as a piggy bank got away without needing to pay back anything because the same Congressmen who started this mess bailed them out and stuck the taxpayer with the bill.

    The stock market was a victim, not a perpetrator of the 2008 mess.

    1. Thanks for also standing up for the market. The point was just to make a funny story to address common millennial concerns. It’s been portrayed to most millennials that the stock market caused a lot of pain and with the exception of movies like The Big Short — most folks don’t do much additional research.

  17. I know – I got that. Actually, I just wanted to take the opportunity to explain what the real causes were, since many people don’t understand. I actually saw that one coming from a mile away as I kept reading articles about people taking out interest only loans.

    I also don’t think it was as bad as people make out, unless you were in the mortgage industry. The dot com bubble of the early 2000’s was worse, where the market didn’t even start to recover until about 2003, after the Bush tax cuts. The shock of 1987 when the market lost 25% in one day was also bad, although the markets recovered within a year. The 1970’s were horrible.

    1. I love this! I made the mistake of skipping the starter home and i am set to correct that mistake next week when our home sale goes through! Until next time (I’ll probably buy a home again just smarter this time around) I’m jumping on the index fund train!

  18. Great post, the only bad thing about stock market is, it is not stable. Of course i agree ups and downs are there in every sector, but I’m always afraid of stock market investment.

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