I fully admit that I am fascinated by infomercials. I rarely watch them full-length, but I think they are a powerful form of persuasion that I use in my classes all the time. I think I might even be more fascinated by the people who actually buy this stuff. I wonder who is the person who called into the infomercial or saw it and ran out and got the pocket fisherman or a new fandangled cooking device or the Sham Wow.
That said, I full admit that I have bought and used a Lean Mean Grilling Machine. When you are single, don’t cook very well, and need something quick, the George Foreman grill was a god-send.
However, I use the informercial to talk about how one should invest. In previous posts, I have stated that you should never raid your retirement funds unless you are facing homelessness or some kind of major bankruptcy where you might lose your home. Other than those items I think you should try to avoid using them at all costs.
Yet how is it that we can get people to save and just leave their investments be alone. Then it hit me, the ultimate infomercial king: Ron Popeil.
Ron Popeil is the most successful peddler all sorts of products infomercial world. But my favorite saving from Ron came from Set It and Forget It Oven. According to Ron, you can put a chicken, turkey, etc, into this oven and set the timer and just forget it. The oven will do all of the cooking for you and your chicken will look like you bought it from the grocery store.
For investing, Ron’s motto of “Set It and Forget It,” is perfect!
The key to starting to invest is to begin saving. If you have access to a 401(k) plan at work, sign up RIGHT away. Fill out the paperwork, choose an investment(s) that is right for you and forget it. Or if you don’t have access to a 401(k) you can easily set up a Roth or regular IRA with any bank or brokerage firm (e.g. Fidelity, Vanguard, Schwab, etc). It only takes about five minutes.
You visit the brokerage firm website, you choose what kind of retirement account you want to set up, and then you make your first contribution. You will also have the ability to have weekly, bi-weekly, and/or monthly contributions directly taken out of your checking account.
All you have to do is SET IT UP AND FORGET IT!
Now of course I know this is easier said than done. But it really does come down, I think in many respects, to you making this a priority. Filling out the paperwork doesn’t take that much time. I mean we spend more time planning a vacation than we do on decisions that will affect us later in life that are much more important. Why?
All you have to do is be Ron Popeil, Set It Up and Forget!
Now the truth is you don’t truly forget it. Just like you wouldn’t leave the chicken in the oven forever you don’t just leave your investments and check on them, make changes, etc. But half the battle is just beginning to save.
I Can’t Afford To Save
Whenever I read financial articles and then the comments sections about investing inevitably there will be a chorus of people who say they can’t save. They can’t afford it. And I am sure there are some people like that. Some people who just squeak by. But there are a ton of other people who just don’t take the time to do it.
Let me put it this way, most Americans get a tax refund (unless you are in the ROB household…we keep the government running…yeah :). What will you do with that tax refund? Spend it? Put it away? Go on a vacation? If you can pay your bills throughout the entire year and still get a refund then why can’t you take that money and begin investing?
Why can’t you?
Now if you can’t afford to pay your bills and need that refund for larger efforts that is one thing, but how many people go and take that refund and buy clothes, a car, go on a trip, etc. They spend money that could actually help them in the long-run.
So if you can pay all your bills why not take your tax refund and put it into a Roth IRA or regular IRA.
The Bottom Line
Americans need to start saving more. Yes, I know that plenty of people struggle and I am not necessarily talking to those people. I am talking to those people who know they should be saving, but don’t fill out the paperwork, who forget, who would rather go shopping. It doesn’t take long to do it. It is too IMPORTANT NOT TO DO IT! We spend more time planning on what we want to eat for the week than on an important decision like this.
If you don’t know where to start that is fine. Begin contributing to your retirement plan (at least up to a match if they offer one, and if they don’t put in at least 10%) or to a Roth IRA or regular one and just keep it in cash for a little bit.
Then read. Read this blog. Read other blogs. Ask your friends. Go over to Investopedia. Maybe even meet with a financial professional. But the key is to begin because once you start your own financial oven it can look as easy as Ron Popeil and you can just say Set It and Forget It.