The Question That Matters the Least 

One of the questions I get asked the most is one that I feel matters the least. It takes on various forms, but the general gist is this:

How do I compare to those in my age group?

(I say this the first time with a patient smile). 

I despise the click-bait websites that say you need to have X amount of dollars saved by the age of Y, or that if you want financial success you need to be saving Z amount of your income.


Because each one of us has our own goals, our own values. Some want to achieve financial independence by age 50. Others envision working till they’re 70. Some people want to live on $4,000 a month, others want to live on $20,000 a month. 

When we compare ourselves to our peers we lose sight of that. 

If John and Barb subscribe to the FIRE mentality (financially independent, retire early), then yeah - they’re going to have to accumulate a boatload of savings much sooner than Joe and Betty, who want to slow down around age 65. And if Joe and Susan are comparing themselves to John and Betty, they’re going to feel really, really behind. But they might not be behind at all. 

Measuring ourselves relative to others - whether it’s our income, our net worth, or our status - is a fools’ game, with no winners. Don’t look to others for a benchmark, look at your own goals and your own values and see if you’re on track for those. 

Success is then defined by the progress you’re making towards them, not to other people.
Interesting Resources 

1. Movement Capital - Summarizing the Case for International Stocks 
Slight case of déjà vu here, but here’s another reminder that although International Stocks have way under-performed the US the past 10 years or so, they should still be a staple in most investor’s equity portfolios. The below chart shows the past five decades of International vs US stocks. It’s almost an oscillating pattern of which type of equities do better, and we’ll never know in advance. Another case for diversification! 
2. Budweiser -  This Bud’s for 3 (YouTube) 
I’ll admit I’m not a huge basketball fan, but I’ve always admired Dwayne Wade for some reason. His grit, scrappiness, his athleticism. But I think above all that he just SEEMS like a good dude, never seems to get in trouble on or off the court. So I don’t have much of a connection to him, but this video made me more than teary eyed. I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it, but it’s well worth the 4 minutes to give a view. 
I have a confession to make: I fall guilty to comparing myself to others. Whether it’s clients I work with, or other financial advisors I know - I do it. And it gets me into a negative funk. And without fail, when I zoom back out and look at our personal goals, our personal values, what we feel called to do - and realize we’re on track, I feel much, much better. And the peace and contentment from that can’t be measured. 

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