Why Most Early Proponents of the 401(k) Now Say It’s a Failure

Herbert Whitehouse was one of the first proponents of the 401(k) 35 years ago, when he was a human resources executive at Johnson & Johnson.

Today the 65-year-old Whitehouse says he will have to work into his mid-70s if he wants to maintain his standard of living, after his own 401(k) took a hit in 2008.

Whitehouse is one of a chorus of early 401(k) supporters who have changed their minds.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal reveals how pre-retirees at all income levels are falling shortway short – of the amount of money they need to have to be able to retire.

Fully half of those between ages 50-64 have less than one year of their income saved.

The top 10% (those making $251,000 or more annually) have an average of only two years of their income saved.

The article mentions that “financial experts recommend that people amass at least eight times their annual salary to retire.”

Those “experts” ought to have their heads examined, because even a $1 million nest-egg would provide you only $28,000 a year at the current recommended withdrawal rate of 2.8% per year. [Read more…] “Why Most Early Proponents of the 401(k) Now Say It’s a Failure”

Should you be worried about the Dow’s plunge?

We're doing it again!

If, like most Americans, you have a substantial portion of your nest-egg in stocks and mutual funds, I urge you to take a few minutes to read this right now…

The U.S. stock market has lost considerable ground and volatility has returned with a vengeance.  The situation is precarious in both Japan and the Middle East.

But the recent stock market plunge was virtually assured before the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan.

Here’s why…

We’re doing it again: Buying stocks after big gains in the markets.

In 2008, 2009 and most of 2010, mutual fund investors in almost every month took more money out of stock mutual funds than they added. Then, in January, someone hit a switch.

Investors decided that it was time to get back into the stock market. Keep in mind this decision came after an almost 100 percent gain from the market bottom in 2008. So in December we pulled $10.6 billion out of equity mutual funds, and in January we poured an estimated $30 billion into the market.

Do you see the problem here?”1

The problem, as this article from The New York Times blog titled, “Are We Buying High All Over Again?” points out, is that investors are repeating past bad behavior.  Just as they have done throughout history, and just as they will continue to do for the rest of time.

[Read more…] “Should you be worried about the Dow’s plunge?”