The Cost of Lost Opportunity

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One of the reasons I’m no longer married is because I didn’t want to “plan” for “retirement” – by putting more or even any of my money into a “401k” or similar “plan.” This was a subject of contention some seven years ago, when many – even most – people probably thought that putting as much money as possible in a “401k” or similar “plan” was sensible.

Perhaps it was, then. Especially if you planned to retire before now.

Historically – well, in terms of post-war (WWII) history – the history of “investing” in these “plans” was overall pretty good. Probably because the systems was more or less sound. Or at least, stable. The “plans” were often both a hedge against currency devaluation – the proper way to understand what is styled “inflation” –  as well as a way to increase the value of the currency put into the “plan,” which was generally invested in various things by the “plan’s” managers, most of them returning a profit on the investment over time.

This perhaps made it worthwhile for people to hand over their money to third parties and trust that it would both be safe in their hands and propagate over time; sufficiently so that they were willing to relinquish all control over their money for all that time – in a manner not fundamentally different from what was the case when one was a child and one’s parents controlled one’s funds. These were doled out at certain intervals, perhaps, according to conditions laid down by the parents.

In the case of the “plans,” one could in theory access one’s money anytime one wished to do so – provided one was willing to beg permission first – as via submitting forms and making claims – as opposed to, give me my money, now. And assuming one was ok with having a large portion of one’s money taken away – in the form of what are styled “taxes” – applied as punishment for daring to want one’s money in one”s hands before the allowed dole-it-out date, in one’s dotage.

There is a Degradation Factor in this – I can’t just access/use my money at will? I am to be punished for using it when I may need or want it? – as well as something else that wrinkled my nose. That being the opportunity cost of all this money. What is put into the “plan” is by definition no longer in your hands. It means you have that much less money on hand, during the most productive years of your life, to use to your advantage in specific circumstances that are certain to arise and which cannot be foreseen.

Both good and bad ones.

The bad ones, obviously, being those unforeseen circumstances when you need money but haven’t got it – perhaps because you put so much into that “plan.” For example, some sudden, unforeseen expense such as the need to put a new transmission in your car. Or a new roof over your head. If you haven’t got the money to pay for this, you will need – you will be forced – to accept debt, as via putting the cost on a credit card. If you haven’t got the money to pay that card off, you pay interest until you do. For many people, such debt accumulates to halting sums – in some cases, leading to bankruptcy.

Regardless, debt is how capital is vitiated rather than accumulated.

Some people are able to leverage debt, of course – and perhaps come out on balance with more net at the end. Orange Man, for instance.

But the average person is terrible at managing debt. It generally gets the better of him and he’s arguably much better-advised paying for what he needs, as he goes. But this is harder to do when there’s less money in hand to pay for those things, particularly those that cannot be anticipated but which are all-but-certain to happen.

The other circumstances – the good ones – are those that won’t necessarily impoverish you but which could have enriched you, if you had the money in hand to take advantage of the opportunity – and in ways far sounder than any “plan,” given evolving circumstances – which could have been foreseen.

For example, I was able to buy some land when the farm behind my house was sold – because I had the money to do so. This acquisition eliminated the possibility of someone else buying that land – and building something behind me. Or rather, right on top of me. Which have devalued the land I had, already.

But it also did another thing, far more important, in view of the way these “plans” are headed. It converted dubious dollars into hard assets. Not gold or silver but land, the primordial store of value that will always be of value because land is inherently valuable. One can live on it. One can make one’s living upon it. It can provide the things without which life itself cannot continue – an important consideration given current considerations.

There are other, similar example, but this one makes the point. If the financial casino upon which the value of these various “plans” depends goes bust tomorrow – as no longer seems improbable or even unlikely – then all the money put into all of those “plans” by all of those people will be as valuable as Confederate currency is, today.

Meanwhile, I have that land. It’s mine. In hand. I don’t have to beg permission to access it. I can farm it. And – worst case scenario – I could sell it/barter it for something of equivalent value. I thus have various opportunities open to me that are closed to a person with a suddenly worthless “plan.” Including the option to retire on that land – or the value of it.

For this an other reasons I am grateful I wasn’t willing to go along with one with the “plan” – even for the sake of getting along.

. . .

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75 COMMENTS

  1. Good commentary, Eric.

    I’d just wish I could take what money I have in a 401k and run. I’m too young to avoid the tax hit, but I don’t believe the system is going to hold on much longer.

    • Hi Jim,

      Same here. Too young to retire – but too old to start over! I am, however, grateful that I avoided “retirement plans.” I like to plan my own way. Perhaps because I never thought too much about retiring. This begs the question: What sort of work are you doing that is so loathsome you look forward to the day when you no longer have to do it? I think most people make exactly that mistake. They take a job, as opposed to pursuing a passion – or at least, something that interests them. Something they genuinely like doing, that gratifies their sense of being good at doing it, too.

      I will never retire so long as I am able to work – which I plan to do right up to the moment I finally clutch my chest and tumble down the stairs, never to get up, again.

  2. I have not saved one red cent for “retirement”. It will not exist for me, as I think the economy (and possibly this country) is going to crash soon. Either that, or the greedy Feds will “nationalize” everyone’s 401-K’s and retirement accounts, and simply steal the money for themselves. My twice-COVID-jabbed-and-boosted friend just died unexpectedly last month-a mere, six months after she retired. No one knows what happened. She used to nag me like a mother hen about this issue. She, on the other hand, was dutiful in saving close to a million dollars for retirement. She never got to enjoy it. Much like depositing your money in the bank, once you give up the money, it is no longer yours. I cannot help but think ones retirement accounts are much the same way.

    • RE: your bff, sadly, a common story, Shadow. Timeless,… and, tragic.

      This, too: “Either that, or the greedy Feds will “nationalize” everyone’s 401-K’s and retirement accounts, and simply steal the money for themselves.”

      Our overlords: “One bastard goes in, another comes out!”

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09-GbpOd9T4

    • Also, your comment reminded me of this video/commercial/political ad (?) I saw decades ago which I’ll never forget, it featured a UAW line worker in some automotive assembly plant who was asked a question & his response was something along the lines of, “Retirement plan? … I’m gonna work until I drop.”

      • LOL, Helot, loved the movie line. It reminds me of the old saying “meet the new boss, same as the old boss”. A few months ago, I finished re-watching some old, Clint Eastwood movies. They are far better than any crap being made out there nowadays. I surmise that I will not be alone in the “working until I drop” category. Makes me wonder how many of us there really are in that regards? It is too bad we could not get together & create our own system, seeing is how this one is being looted and burned to the ground. For the “alternate”? Reminds me of the cure being worse than the disease.

    • Hi Shadow,

      Trusting that the government – or corporations – will live up to their promises is like Charlie Brown expecting that Lucy won’t pull away the football at the the last moment.

      Again.

      There is a pathetic naivety in it. Far better to do what you can to control your own finances and arrange things such that you as independent of “plans” as possible.

      • Hello, Eric, I had to admit I gleaned a funny visual when Lucy would swipe the ball away. What a fitting comparison. Sadly, my now-dead-friend was also the kind who would have received every COVID jab that was around. If the Feds told he to take one every month, she would do it. I cannot help but think that such trust lead to her demise in some way, even if we never knew what got her in the end. But yes, at least I have my money to get ready for the future (such as it is & its worth), until such time that the system collapses.

  3. Herd On The Street
    The casino has become complex and there are no easy answers or predictable paths.

    The Wall Street herd had it easy from 2009 to 2021. Life was simple and life was good: markets were easy to predict. As long as the Federal Reserve kept interest rates near-zero and increased its balance sheet to buy Treasury bonds, the stock market rose.

    As long as the Fed increased its balance sheet to buy mortgage-backed securities, housing rose.

    If the Fed tried to reduce its balance sheet, the market would quiver and shake and throw a tantrum, and the Fed would go back to keeping interest rates near-zero and increase its balance sheet.

    To make money all one had to do was buy the dips. Easy-peasy.

    Alas, life is not so simple these days, and the herd doesn’t know quite which way to run. Dynamics that were relegated to the margins for 13 years have emerged from the shadows to complicate the process of making money in markets.

    Inflation has risen from the depths, breathing fire, stampeding the herd. The herd hears all sorts of messages and it can’t discern signal from noise: inflation in transitory, no it’s embedded, supply chain issues will go away, no they won’t, wage inflation will reverse, no it won’t, and so on.

    https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/herd-street

    • from zh comments

      Its not complicated. The problem is a centralised elite printing fiat money to live like kings through funding their bull$hit until the inevitable inflation overtakes their ability to hide their industrial scale theft from the population.

      Their only solution now to continue to hide it is to attempt to fund and sell the lie that becoming poor and living frugally is somehow a virtuous if not mandatory goal ‘to save the planet’ (you will own nothing and be happy), (of course with them continuing to remain wholly unaccountable for their failed idiot protection racket predictions, policies and outcomes relative to actual reality)

      AH-OOO-GAH…AH-OOO-GAH…AH-OOO-GAH…

      At This Time, I’m Issuing A Full CRASH WARNING Effective For The Dates Covering April 25, 2022 Through June, 2022.

      All Asset Classes Will Be CRUSHED…Expect The DOW, NASDAQ And The S&P To CRASH OVER 50 PERCENT From Their Present Levels…Expect The DERIVATIVES To Unwind And Implode.

      I’m Also Predicting “They” Will Hike Interest Rates By One Percent In June, 2022…They Will Roll Out CYBER POLYGON In July, 2022 And CBDC In October, 2022…

      Get Ready For A DEEP DIVE All The Way DOWN To The 2008 LOWS

      ON DECK…Adjusted For Inflation:

      DJIA 8773

      SPX 907

      NDX 1700

      Ultimately, They Will Take Everything Down To Zero (The Great Reset) In Order To Save Us From Ourselves…you will own nothing and be happy….

      The Fixx – Saved by Zero

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOiZP8FS5Ww

    • Slow-Motion Crash Drags Futures Below 3,900; Yields, Cryptos Tumble

      from zh comments

      If you want to know when we’ve hit bottom let me give you the tell. We’ve hit bottom when you read half a dozen plus stories about how we were lead astray by pushing people into 401k as a retirement solution and that the only solution is for uncle joe to take all the 401k and increase social security. Can’t give you an exact date but thinking February 21st 2023.

      Can I argue that one of the greatest ways to fleece the average joe was/is 401k. Sure it’s made some people some money but made the people who run them a lot more
      it also created a huge pot of money from which the maggots can steal.

      https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/slow-motion-crash-drags-futures-below-3900-yields-cryptos-tumble

  4. There Goes The Housing Market

    BY TYLER DURDEN
    WEDNESDAY, MAY 11, 2022 – 09:25 AM
    Since the Fed is rushing to hike the US into a deep recession just so inflation will (supposedly) slide ahead of the November midterms, in line with Biden’s demands, the housing market is eager to comply with Powell’s and Biden’s handlers’ wishes, and is leading the charge into the economic abyss, as we discussed most recently here, and as the latest nationwide survey of new home builders confirms.

    Last week, Zillow’s dismal outlook stoked fears that rising mortgage rates would result in the next downturn. On Monday night, Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky warned: “this moment feels similar to late 2008 when we started” the online marketplace for lodging.

    https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/us-builders-warn-significant-shift-housing-market-amid-affordability-crisis

    • Hi Anon,

      I’ve been wondering about that . . . about the cost of fast food affecting the purchasing thereof. We went to Chipotle a few weeks back; two burritos came to almost $30. It was surreal. I expected around $15 or so – which is what it was the last time I went to Chipotle, some three years ago. Who can afford that? Who wants to pay for that? I mean, Chipotle is ok. But for $30, you can still buy a lot of food, if you’re careful, at the grocery and make several good meals out of it.

      I suspect a fast food crash, soon.

      • I can make a decent burrito for a helluva lot less than fifteen bucks. They’re not hard to make at all.
        It’s all about the CONVENIENCE, but, of course, that has a cost, and as the cost of even unskilled labor, due mostly to a hodgepodge of “Gubmint Fatwas” has risen to stratospheric levels, it’s made even rather humble fare very damned expensive!

        Me, I”m ok with Del Taco (I don’t think DT has infested VA yet, AFAIK, no further east than Tulsa), especially the Tuesday night “Taco Special”, but I pass if the drive-thru line is long. A decent place out here in NorCal, if you’re in the mood for “fast-casual” Mexican, is Jimboy’s, but their menu has gotten “spendy” also.

      • Indeed, Eric. Even with the cost of food in “The Great White North”, I could take 30 bucks (for now), and get the ingredients for a “Poor Man’s Dish”. In this case, hamburger (the most expensive part), macaroni, and some sauce to go on top-usually a tomato-based kind. That would keep for a week than the measly burrito would-delicious as it would be. Many other, alternative commentators have been warning that a food crash would be coming the second half of this year. It is not going to be too much longer(as you said), before we find out how right or wrong such predictions were.

    • Food costs rising….
      18 Signs That Food Shortages Will Get A Lot Worse As We Head Into The Second Half Of 2022
      If you think that things are bad now, just wait until we get into the second half of this year. Global food supplies have already gotten very tight, but it is the food that won’t be produced during this current growing season in the northern hemisphere that will be the real problem.

      Worldwide fertilizer prices have doubled or tripled, the war in Ukraine has greatly reduced exports from one of the key breadbaskets of the world, a nightmarish bird flu pandemic is wiping out millions of chickens and turkeys, and bizarre weather patterns are absolutely hammering agricultural production all over the planet. I have often used the phrase “a perfect storm” to describe what we are facing, but even that phrase really doesn’t seem to do justice to the crisis that we will be dealing with in the months ahead.

      https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/18-signs-food-shortages-will-get-lot-worse-we-head-second-half-2022

  5. I was never any good at saving cash. I recognized this flaw in my financial life so I bought hard assets instead. I started with rental houses in the ‘hood- because the mortgages were assumable and I could afford the downstroke- about $2500 back then. I learned that putting a parasite in my rental house was not going to work. They tear things up and don’t pay well.

    Since plan 1 failed I decided that a big ass house that I could improve would be my piggy bank. Divorce wrecked that plan.

    Since plan 2 failed and I was 55 years old and broke I decided to buy commercial real estate. Observing that retail was migrating to online I avoided strip malls and the like. I concluded that medical offices would not become irrelevant since patients needed to come to see their MD. I called on a vacant medical office I knew of and the retired MD was willing to sell it and finance 95% of it. I was able to scrounge up the downstroke and viola! The first of 3 similar purchases. I’m 60 now and my “job” is managing these properties- I cut my own grass, do my own HVAC work, etc. The tenants pay me to do it (triple net leases ) so I have some walkin’ around money. Best of all the 3 buildings have appreciated 40% (in dollars which have depreciated) so figure an honest 20% gain considering the BS Dollar values. Rents have gone up, the mortgages have gone down and I have a legacy of net worth and net income to leave my wife and son (who 11 and learning to property manage)

    Moral of the story: 45 years of screwing up and 5 years of getting it right make up for all the errors of the past and then some! It’s never too late to try again- and sometimes by God’s Grace it works!

    • Excellent, Eric – from a fellow redneck!

      I laud your courage doing the rental thing; I’ve got several friends who did – and had to deal with some of the issues you did on your first go ’round. Glad you found a better way to do this!

  6. The 401(k) wasn’t designed for everyone. It was for managers who weren’t elegible for the pension plan, mostly C-suite types. When companies missmanaged their way into losing market share to the Japanese and Germans in the 1980s corporate boards thought it was a good alternative and got them off the hook for your retirement.

    Nowadays the only people with defined benefit pensions are government employees. Heck, at the federal level they don’t even have to worry about Social Security solvency. You think for one minute any DC bureaucrat in charge of watching over Wall Street and the banks gives two shits about your 401(k)? They got theirs, sucks to be you!

  7. When I used to date[shudder] many many years ago, I always made it clear from day one that I was into self-sufficiency, living simply, etc. (‘Off the grid” wasn’t even a term then). That was an eye-opener! I quickly found out that women were into ‘security’; -health insurance; life insurance; investments; retirement accounts; etc. etc.

    Nice, if you want to spend your life funding all of those things and then never seeing most of your money while it funds this quasi-fascist/socialist economy- maybe getting a little back when you’re too old to enjoy it- if you live that long and remain healthy.

    Me? Too busy using my time, enjoying life and remaining free- which is a lot easier to do when you opt out of so many of these voluntary tyrannies. As a bonus, it kept me from the tyranny of being shackled to one of the fastest-depreciating assets known to man: A woman.

    • And funny thing is, excepting really high-earners, like executives, the vast majority of people I see retired on 401k’s and with Socialist Security, etc. are really just barely scraping along. The pay-outs which sounded so wonderful 40 years ago when they started funding their investments…..are pretty paltry today, what with inflation and all- The only real exception among the blue-collar working classes is if they had a Cybil(civil) Service or other gubmint job, where the taxpayers get to fund their retirement- That’s how a train conductor, teacher or garbageman from a big city/metro area can retire with a six-figure pension. A little reward for decades of tolerating corruption and being a Good German…..but no honest person is going to get anywhere near that. (Then again, why the hell would anyone even need that?!)

      • Hi Nunz,

        The way I see it, if you own your home – insofar as having paid it off – and have no other debt and have your health – you can maintain a comfortable life (e.g., plenty to eat, money on hand to pay for incidentals and, above all, free time) on about $1,500 or so per month or even less. That is “poverty” wages by the book. But you’re rich in terms of not being in hock and not having to work like a Chinese chicken factory gut-puller.

      • Being debt free is the key Nunzio. Which I have been for almost 30 years. My two major annual bills are property tax, and home owner’s insurance, the latter being an option. Since the $1400 per month I get from SS is a saving wage for me, I don’t pay any income tax. I don’t live lavishly, nor am I willing to pay the cost, nor do I have any desire to do so. Living slightly above a subsistence level is not a sin. Your life is not made of the things you buy.

    • Hi Nunz,

      Yup. My ex and I had widely divergent views on those subjects, i.e., insurance/”retirement plans.” I wanted no part of either as I consider them to be the opposite of what most people consider them to be. I saved so much money as a young man by avoiding all forms of insurance such that I was able to afford my first house. And I expect I’ll be able to afford “retirement” – something I’ll never do until I can’t work any longer – because I’ve not been bleeding myself white lo these past 30 years for “insurance” and such. I agree with Bob Casey and others who regard “retirement” as a kind of anticipatory death that lasts for 15-20 or more years. No thanks. I enjoy my work and strive to get better at it. The key is to not let work become a drudge – or a thing you’re compelled to do too much of, in order to pay the bills you can’t otherwise afford.

    • It’s natural for a woman to seek security Nunzio, for the benefit of her children. Just as it is natural for a man to provide them protection. The problem arose when the state pretended to replace the man, and has been doing its best to prevent men from protecting, and promised women security it could not deliver. But women bought it anyway. Turning men into an added resource, instead of a vital one. Until babies start coming out of labs instead of women, they remain a vital resource. As gullible as they may be.

      • Hi Ya’s, Eric & John,
        Yes! Being debt-free is definitely a good part of being free! Guess that is why they try and suck us in while we’re still teenagers, with credit cards and student loans and car payments. They’ve got ’em convinced that you spend 1/4 to 1/2 of your life preparing for a ‘good job’, then spend the bulk of your best years slaving at that one thing to prepare for retirement. Seems like most people I’ve known who actually did retire either died quickly or had their health decline quickly after retiring to the point where they expended as much time going to doctors as they formerly did to working. * {See bonus story at end of comment)

        Not retiring…and never getting into debt-servitude or the 9-5 ‘labor-force’ seems to keep people alive and healthy! I have always been able to live well on fumes. My mother thinks she is rich because her $1300/month SS goes so far, since she lives in her own mo-bile home on my property and only has to pay for food and utilities. She’s someone who never had anything her whole life, but has managed to actually save-up quite a bit now in her old age…on $1300/month. (And she doesn’t take food stamps or Medicaid, though she’d qualify)

        They always try to make us think in terms of income– but it costs more to earn more. Worry more about outgo, as we do, and one can live far from expensive cities and suburbs, where taxes and cost of living are low and liberty is much more abundant…and still have a better life (and the time and freedom of mind to enjoy it) than a millionaire in the city. Oh, I may not have the shiny new car…but I wouldn’t want one if it were free- I love my 20 year-old vehicles just fine.

        And John, yes- it is natural for women-folk to seek security- but most today are deceived about what constitutes security. The woman married to the guy who gets on the train at 7AM each morning and who gets home at 7 or 8 every evening thinks the McMansion and new cars and 8 kinds of insurance constitute ‘security’, but in reality, her husband/kids father is mostly absent from their lives though he lives in the marital home. He doesn’t even know his kids friends (Likely, not even their names) nor what they are taught in school, and would be shocked at what his kids are by the time they’re 13 if he saw their social media page or actually knew them…but he imagines otherwise, because he doesn’t know the strangers whom he and the Mrs. cart on weekend trips or to holidays and functions occasionally. They grow old…the kids put their stranger-parents in a nursing home and get the house and money if any is left after debt and taxes.

        You occasionally see a woman who gets it; who has figured out that security equals actually being there in person and maintaining a full-time homestead which is unaffected by the whims of the artificial state economy and poilitics and social trends. The Amish certainly get it…and it still works just fine.

        Had a fambly come by a few years ago to look at some cows I was selling. Nice ‘plumper
        (I like plumpers…not obese canklesauruses) married to a beaner, who lived on a little homestead and had a gaggle of beanettes. They had met in Chicongo…err…Shitcago, and moved here. She definitely got it. A rare breed. She loved the lifestyle.

        *= (Bonus story):
        My mother knew someone, -the sister of an in-law- who, at the age of 97 was still going to work every day to run her late husband’s business (5 small shops in NYC)- and often taking the subway to do so! She passed away recently at nearly 100 years old. Ditto the guy I used to buy cows from- still messing with cows in his 80’s! My older sister’s husband is 80…and a security guard (Retired from aerospace). Why retire, unless one’s working life is so dreadful that getting away from it is viewed as a reward- but then, why spend decades or even hours of your life living in such a way?

        • Ahem…that should be:

          “that you spend 1/4 to 1/3 of your life preparing for a ‘good job’,”

          (I proof-read that before posting, and STILL screwed it up!) I think I need to retire!

  8. There are reasons you can only put so much into retirement accounts.
    My guesses
    1. you don’t get too rich
    2. you don’t lose too much
    3. you need to keep working to have enough to retire

    To be controlled, you have to “need” a job.

  9. Buying the surrounding acres where you reside is stress relief. Relief that someone doesn’t build a wall to wall subdivision or townhouses. Lot sizes measured in feet, not even 1/4 acre. Where we live I would say about 500 acres plus has been developed in last 7 or 8 years. Traffic increase, crime increase, soccer moms taking kids to school every day. Deer and animals displayed because the woods are gone. We are out of here in the next couple years as we are at the age of retirement. Not planning on it but will change jobs to do something different.

    Buy land, build a moat, stock with piranha, punji stake pits, mini-guns mounted on backs of German Shepherds, monkeys in trees spotting for the Shepherd’s, big sign that says ‘Stay Out’……and Bears.

    • Hi Manse,

      I’m sorry to hear about that; more so because I witnessed it happen in the area where I grew up – Fairfax County in Northern Virginia. In the ’70s and ’80s, it was a not-unpleasant suburban area, without too much traffic and a nice mix of housing (most with good-sized lots) and undeveloped area. By the time I was in college in the late ’80s, it was becoming an ugly spread of sprawl; McMansions and overpriced townhouses endlessly into the distance, all the same. Roads clogged with traffic, all the time.

      I figure if that happens here – in rural SW Virginia – I’ll sell my place at an exorbitant price to some Yankee carpetbagger type and flee to a really rural area, one that will stay that way for the rest of my life,

  10. Cashed out my company sponsored 401K/mutual fund about 10 years ago when I quit to start my business. It wasn’t an astronomical amt but it was a nice boost to pay cash for a new rig and some equipment. Zero regrets. I have no plan (to retire). Sure, I’ll slow things down as I age and my expenses continue to shrink to nothing. This whole notion of “retirement” is what, a couple generations old? I don’t see the problem with staying busy till the day you die. People have done it for thousands of years.
    I think this fake propped up system of compounding savings and leverage is all illusory anyway…

    As an example my Dad paid into the machinists union pension plan for decades. He died before he collected a single Nickle. My mom never saw any of it before here death either, none of the kids or beneficiaries saw any of it, because paperwork and reasons. Regardless of how much was put in I’m sure he would have loved to just spend it as he saw fit.

  11. Rather than shore up the failing Social Security system due to run out of reserves by 2034, today a bipartisan gang of clowns in the House of Representatives likely will vote $39.8 billion of aid for a former Soviet republic. Mind you, that’s just a down payment.

    Never has the utter contempt of Clowngress for its so-called constituents been made more clear.

    In fact, this egregious giveaway is an open declaration of war on the American people. We owe this hijacked usurper government NOTHING from now on.

    I’ll be taking down of a list of traitor, RINO Republiclowns who vote for picking our pockets. Effers.

    • Why write down a list? What difference does it make?

      They could all be removed…. with prejudice…. and there are 40 more waiting for their selection who are exactly the same.

      • ‘Why write down a list? What difference, at this point, does it make?’ — David, channeling Hillary at the Benghazi hearing

        Just keeping the record straight, for historical accuracy as to our betrayal.

        “Senators from both parties met with Ukraine’s ambassador the US, Oksana Markarova, to discuss the war in Ukraine. Congress is preparing to provide $40 billion in military and humanitarian aid to help Ukraine defend against Russia’s military invasion.

        “Thank you, do more. We have a hard fight ahead,” Democratic “senator” Chris Coons of Delaware said of Markarova’s message to lawmakers. “With your support, we can win.”

        Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri says members of his party were satisfied with the ambassador’s explanation for how a previous bout of aid has been spent and describes the latest $40 billion initiative as a “survival package.” — AP

        Win, my ass. Sorta like we “won” in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Roy?

        You can’t fix R-party retards.

        • Hi Jim,

          I listen to “conservative” talk radio as part of my information-zeitgeist collecting. Almost to a man, they are all-in for “standing” with Ukraine – with taxpayer money. Could there be a better example of the fundamental moral sameness of “conservatives” vis-a-vis “liberals”? Both want other people’s money; they merely differ over how they’ll spend it.

  12. Diversity is always key.

    401k’s and their ilk can make sense as PART of an overall plan for some people. Particularly if your employer matches a certain %, you’d be wise to take at least that money. Depending on the plan, there are also often “safe” cash-equiv. type funds that have zero or low fees. I’ve been in one for 20 years that’s only made about 3.5%. That’s good enough for me.

    There’s a lot to be said for physical metals and some cash too provided you take the steps to protect them from fire and theft. Fire is a biggie and your insurance won’t cover that 100k bundle so place accordingly and realize fireproof safes are really not. A small fortune for most of us in some physical AU takes up very little room.

    Renting (as you cannot really ever own property in the USA) land and houses can be nice depending on where it is and how much the local lord steals from you every year.

    Tools, equip, hard booze, cigs, etc, all good for future barter economies.

    Check out I-bonds too… You have to buy them from treasury direct but they’re indexed on false inflation #’s(which are currently pretty good). Max of 10k/person/year but better than a hole in the ground.

  13. ‘in terms of post-war(WWII) history – the history of “investing” in these “plans” was overall pretty good. Probably because the systems was more or less sound. Or at least, stable.’ — eric

    It was during WW II that government bonds — Treasuries — first exceeded the value of gold on the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet. FDR’s Big Gov managed to finance the war at a low 2.25% interest rate, despite inflation running much higher.

    Although devaluation never stopped, and gold is but a vestigial presence in the Fed’s assets (if it’s there at all), it’s a lot easier to make money in bonds and stocks when the rate of inflation is decelerating, as it did from 1981 to 2020.

    When inflation is rising, both bonds and stocks are fighting a headwind that erodes their valuations. That’s the situation now.

    Big Gov’s central planners held interest rates too low for too long, and even bought bonds with digitally-printed currency to pump the bubble bigger.

    Now their fatuous bubble-blowing fling has gone into reverse, as runaway inflation and shortages bite the ass of our intellectual-yet-idiot central planners.

    If I were pretzeldent, Jerome Powell would be digging irrigation ditches with his bare hands in the red Georgia clay, as muh mean German shepherd barks and slobbers inches from his face, and muh bullwhip cracks menacingly over his pencil-necked head. Dig, muthah!

  14. When I figured some things out more than a decade ago, I cashed in all that “retirement” savings crap. Took all the tax hits (something like 35%) and got on with my life. In the grand scope of things, it wasn’t much. Started a couple businesses and now work the equivalent of the weekends with the weeks off. Live small, no mortgage, 20 year old truck, eschew the “holidays”. I’ll borrow a dollar if I can turn it into 4. Wife of almost 25 years fully on board with the program.

    The concept of “retirement” seems extremely alien to me now. Kinda sad too. My experience with retired people is that they are busy, busy for the first year or so. Travel, maybe a new home, lotsa shuffleboard and sodoku. Then a life focused on doctor visits and health problems. It’s pretty obvious the perpetrators of the renamed flu scam knows this trajectory and exploited it to its fullest with the belly of a certain generation hitting retirement age.

  15. The other lie they tell about 401k’s is that your tax rate will be lower when you have to withdraw it. I’m taking the RMD now that I’m an old fart and my taxes are just as high as when I was working, mostly thanks to Orange Man’s tax “reform” that capped all the deductions I formerly had. Took out about $15k extra last year to pay for a roof replacement and it bumped me into a higher tax bracket, but was better taking out a loan. I’m fortunate to have an actual pension so the recent tanking of the stock market won’t also tank my lifestyle, but anyone who’s only source of retirement income is their 401k/IRA must be shitting bricks about now.

    • Yeah Mike, as such a bag holder, I am shitting bricks. Even the part that I put into a “self-directed brokerage” (where I get to pick the stocks or mutual funds) is bleeding badly. In previous years, I used the self-directed portion well enough to outperform the primary part of the 401K.

      The main problem is time. Because, in theory, you can just wait it out. But OK, for how long? If I were 20 years old, maybe I wouldn’t worry so much but I’m 57 now. And I need to get out of this game but, with rapidly shrinking reserves, that seems less and less likely to happen any time soon.

      If this doesn’t turn around by the time that I’m forced to take “distributions” (at the normal income tax rate AFAIK), I will be suffering a mighty loss. I could have paid off my house with that money by now. Still could today if I were allowed without penalty but that’s not possible.

      A 401K *did* make sense up until these fucken lunatics decided to destroy everything, starting with the corona hoax and marching right through their climate change fantasy.

      They’re doing this on purpose for their delusional “great reset” which stands zero chance to become anything beyond stamping the life out of most people in numerous ways. My only consolation is that I lived most of my life without this murderous insanity.

      I don’t know how this ends without utter and complete disaster for most people. Even the “fortunate” ones like me.

      • Hi EM,

        I feel for you, amigo. You nailed it on the head when you wrote “… these fucken lunatics,” except I suspect they’re well-aware of what they are doing in that the goal is to enserf us all. I have always regarded government – and for that matter, corporations – as existential evils, never to be trusted. I therefore never put a cent toward “retirement.” Instead, I put every extra cent I had toward paying off my first house which I did back in the ’90s. That single step took so much financial pressure off. I’ve been advising young people to do the same ever since. That – and never, ever buy a new car unless you can write a check for it.

        • 401k safe? haha

          trigger a stock market crash….part of agenda 2030?

          use this as an excuse to freeze ALL financial markets, shut down all the markets, seize all pensions and 401K’s, bank accounts, ban cash. Everything confiscated to pay off the huge debt, lots of governments are bankrupt, all for the greater good…haha

          and roll out UBI…you will own nothing and be happy…means they confiscate all your assets…..all gone…

          Then you will be herded into a soviet style 150 sq. ft. slum apartment and get a tiny handout if your social credit score is high enough and you survive the cull…..

          you will own nothing and be happy. this is wef’s agenda 2030 happening right now today.

          • Market continuing down trend, one opinion is it will continue till October 2022, 401k holders getting crushed….

            Everything financial is going negative. They are realizing this now. Soon it will be too late. Watch the gov’t indices, because all they have left is lies. Total chaos is the norm. Elections being stolen have consequences.

            You have a HOT summer coming, followed by a September-October surprise, followed by a harsh winter with no fuel, food, etc., and supply lines are being damaged on purpose. Inflation will turn to deflation. Information is all over the place, which do you believe? Interest rates are rising, inflation is roaring, criminal activity is rampant no matter where you look. Deflation is right on the tail of inflation. You do the math.

            The trend is your friend, and the trend is a bear market in all sectors, bar none. Crypto almost wiped out. Stocks down 15-27%. Interest rates rising. More calling for a bear market. Reputations on the line. Supply lines cut. Threats of war. Gas pipelines turned off. fertilizer gone- ie food. $Trillions lost in the tech sector.

            See any problems here for stawks?

            https://finviz.com/futures_charts.ashx?t=ES&p=d1

    • That’s why the strategy of a Variable Universal Life: IF the fees and the insurance is tolerable. Many plans are pure crap. But the strategy is sound, and you don’t have unlimited ability to invest in tax-deferred plans, though I say do them ALSO. More or less, as you build up equity in the VUL, you can borrow against it, provided the nominal rate is the same as the insurance company’s investment account (read the FINE PRINT on that!). In that way, proceeds from these “loans” are NEVER taxed, they simply count against the policy’s value. That way, you can have life insurance for when you’re young and presumably insurable, and rates are their least, and, as you build up value in the policy, you only have to maintain enough insurance to keep it a valid policy under IRS rules. The cost of the insurance should be far less than taxes would be; else, as “Foghorn Leghorn” would say, “Ah say, you’re doing it all WRONG, theah…”

  16. Great article Eric.

    My wife and I went through some similar arguments. The premise of the 401k is that you put pre-tax dollars in it to grow, and are only taxed when you are retired. The thought being that your tax rate in retirement will be less than your rate now, when you’re earning.

    I explained to my wife that there is nothing stopping our tax rates from becoming exactly the same in retirement as they are while working – maybe even higher. I would conclude that this is not only possible, but likely. Especially given all the envious “progressive’s” out their now. These people despise anyone who has managed to save anything above and beyond what they’ve earned.

    You hear it even from so-called “Conservatives.” “Why is capital taxed at a lower rate than labor?” they ask. I’ll tell you why: The capital used to create those capital gains has already been taxed at the labor rate. So conservatives want higher capital gains taxes? Ask me why I’m not a conservative.

    Let’s not forget that “capital gains” are not adjusted for inflation either. If you make 6% in capital gains, in an environment with a 8% CPI increase, you are being taxed on a 6% gain that’s actually a 2% loss. You are taxed even though you’ve lost purchasing power.

    If you only made 6% after say 10 years, you are taxed on a 70% loss of purchasing power (Assuming this 7% inflation rate is here to stay). It is an utter scam.

    By investing in a 401k, we are also relying on the government to keep their promise. I explained that this is an exceedingly naïve thought. When has the government ever kept their promise? There is absolutely nothing stopping these spendthrifts from seizing these 401k assets, and say, turning it into government bonds at some point – especially when there is some “financial crisis” to justify it.

    A lot of morons will probably go along with it – especially after a hefty crash of the stock market (along with the value of their 401ks)

    Then there is all the opportunity cost you mentioned, and rules, which are subject to change at any time.

    Every dollar I have invested is after tax.

    • Thanks, Blake!

      Luckily – gratefully – my girlfriend is on the same page as myself. I decided after I got divorced I wouldn’t have it any other way!

    • Hence why Governments have every incentive to inflate currency, which, in effect, can easily be used to steal the People’s assets

  17. My father was a railroad worker, a mechanic for track work machinery. He traveled to Montana all of the time for work on the rails. He would always bring home a few silver dollars that were in circulation at the time, ca. 1960. I managed to save a few that he gave to me over the years, went to a bank, deposited the eight silver dollars and opened a passbook savings account.

    Never saw the silver dollars ever again. I felt like I’d been robbed, the bank stole my silver and never gave it back.

    Many years later, the bank went broke. Banks have money in them, how can they be broke?

    You can’t trust banks with the money you have, there is too much risk involved.

    Don’t use a safe deposit box. Rented one one time, that was it.

    A 401k is not for you, all sorts of fees and charges, penalties mean somebody is in it for the money.

    During the GFC, Citibank fell from 48 USD per share to 4.80 USD per share, did a reverse split and one share became 48 dollars again. If you owned 100 shares, you got 10 after the split.

    GE, same thing, did a reverse split, 1 for 8, priced the shares at 112 dollars, something like that, then the 10 percent correction that has happened, down about 40 dollars per share.

    TSLA and AMZN have lost more than 30 percent in share value. When you sell, you need a buyer. Buying is the easy part.

    Bought some oil infrastructure business stock on the exchange. It reverse split right away, fell to 11 dollars per share, then gained share price all the way to 46 dollars, the oil trading meltdown occurred, oil went negative, the share price is now less than 3 dollars and has been sitting there for a couple of years. Was happy to get out with a small loss. Don’t listen to financial advisors, they’ve got something up their sleeve.

    Always a particle of risk in any business.

    It is time to plant potatoes, has to dry out, there’s been rain. Probably have 130 pounds ready to go, will plant another 20 or 30 more later on. Russets and Kenebec are good choices for potato varieties to plant.

  18. Owning land is the best possible investment. There is one possible problem that may occur in the near future. With the value of the dollar tanking, goods & services cost escalating and wages falling behind, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that local real estate taxes will escalate to becoming unaffordable due the first two reasons. Thereby forcing the sale of that land to pay the damn taxes. Gold isn’t safe either due the fact that the sale of it requires a federal form 1099 to be filled out stating who sold it, how much was sold and who bought it. Setting up the gold confiscation act when the feds begin to go belly up. At least my clothing isn’t taxed (other than buying it) …..yet!

    • Hi Allen,

      I’ve thought about that – the real estate tax issue. In the event they attempt to apply extortionate taxes (in addition to those already levied) on people who’ve born it thus far and get nothing in return for it – and who are now placed in the position of losing everything to these scumbag thieves – I suspect many (me among them) will say: No. It’s enough. Come get some. I understand they may and likely will win. But it is going to cost them.

    • Hi Allen,
      Land can be summarily confiscated by the Psychopaths In Charge just as easily as Gold. Even more so, because you can’t pack it up and run with it. There is no safe investment in a land where “official” goons with guns can show up and take it. Put it in the hands of the bank cartel, and they don’t even have to bother with the goons. That includes the Wall Street casino, which is owned by the bank cartel. The house always wins. Living cheap has worked out very well for my retirement, so far.

    • Did you ever watch “Doctor Zhivago”? As if rising property taxes aren’t bad enough, as they make the county/state the “Landlord of Last Resort”, the Left-wing loonies may, if the current housing shortages in many metro areas persist, simply CONFISCATE “underutilized” property. “There was twenty (square) meters of living space in that master bedroom” the hag lady commissar pontificates as the Zhivagos are, at first, forced to share all but their master bedroom suite with the scruffy Muscovites, seeking shelter against the cold, and later, booted out of even that.

      If things get bad enough, although I encourage “prepping”, don’t be surprised to see not only roving gangs of looters committing home invasions in search of food and/or fuel, some of those “gangs” may be sporting BADGES, and charging the “prepper” with the “crime” of HOARDING. Don’t think it can happen here? Look up the story of the Appalachian scrap dealer that, during WWII, had several thousand tons of aluminum scrap confiscated by the War Production Board because he and Alcoa wouldn’t agree on a price…but, didn’t he know there was a “war” on?

      • Douglas: “the Left-wing loonies may…simply CONFISCATE ‘underutilized’ property.”

        Plans along these exact lines are terrifyingly far along in Ireland, as long documented by Dave Cullen (“Computing Forever”). Just a few days ago he posted this update, regarding the crusade to “right-size” those greedy empty-nesters hoarding a bedroom or two more than they sleep in:

        https://www.bitchute.com/video/GRts93d2wJvS/

        …and Zhivago is a classic, for exactly the scenes you mention. I force my wife to watch it every year around Christmas!

        • Hi FP,

          In the event such a thing ever comes to pass, I would burn my place to the ground and salt the earth before walking away, into the woods…

      • That’s the one scene in Dr. Zhivago that sticks in my mind to this day. As Eric states below I would burn my house to the ground before I would let some commie bastards take it over.

  19. Well, my retirement is wholly dependent on 401K. I’m cynical tho. Seriously doubt I’ll ever be able to retire and federal reserve note will be worthless anyhow.

  20. I see your point on land being a good investment especially as it’s right beside your existing property. As you said it was farmland any chance .gov will pay you not to farm it? I’ve read recently that .gov is paying people to destroy crops (not like there might be food shortages coming). Although I’m wondering why you don’t throw a little at a Self-Directed Roth IRA, tax free withdrawal after age 60 and all.

    • Hi Landru,

      These Roth IRAs are the same, fundamentally, as a 401k. You lose control of your money, trusting it to some entity over which you have very little control, in the hope that it will “be there” when you retire. This may have made sense 30 years ago. When it was not unreasonable to assume the system would be more or less working 30 years later. Is it reasonable to make that assumption now? I am a big believer in the value of a bird in hand – rather than in the bush! Especially when the bird in the bush was probably eaten long ago.

      I have based everything I’ve done, financially, on the premise that (a) Social Security will not “be there” when I retire and (b) that all “retirement” plans are only as sound as the system they’re predicated upon.

      I consider that living below one’s means, avoiding debt and owning things is the best “retirement plan” there is!

      • [quote]I consider that living below one’s means, avoiding debt and owning things is the best “retirement plan” there is! [/quote]

        That and having the physical assets needed to maintain your lifestyle. (ie. physical things that are difficult to inflate (or is that depreciate) their value away)

      • “You lose control of your money, trusting it to some entity over which you have very little control, in the hope that it will “be there” when you retire.”

        Once it’s in a 401(k) it’s not “your money” any more. In fact, it’s not money at all — you have purchased various equity stakes through the medium of the plan.

        The only way you get “your money” back is when someone else agrees to buy those equity stakes from you (presumably for more than you paid) when you cash out.

        If nobody agrees to to that, or if they agree to purchase those equity stakes at a LOWER price than you bought them for… “your money” has just evaporated into the ether.

      • Hi Eric,
        I believe the difference between a traditional IRA and a Roth is that with the former you are not taxed on the money until you take it out while the latter is funded by money that already has been taxed.
        I find it comical that they used to push traditional IRAs based on the promise that when you took the money out you’d be in a lower tax bracket. So less tax for you. Now with the Roth their claim is that since tax rates are sure to go up, you can pay at the lower rate when you put the money in instead of when you take it out. So less tax for you.
        If the creeps who invent these things were really interested in saving us money on taxes, all they’d have to do is stop taxing us.

      • Provided that you can make use of the land you acquired around your original property, it should justify the investment. What it also provides, which isn’t directly quantifier, but quite real, is PEACE OF MIND…that it remains under YOUR control, so your ability to enjoy your life at home remains.

        ONE question: Did the Commonwealth of Virginia passed an “Anti-Kelo” bill, as some states did, in wake of that outrageous SCOTUS decision in 2005? (Kelo vs. City of New London, CT). If not, and the real estate developers have enough local “pull”, you’re not as safe as you feel that you are. No one is when ownership, let alone free use, of real property is subject to the wiles of the local PTB, rather than respected as an inalienable right. And it’s not much of a stretch from Kelo that your PERSONAL property (vehicles, computers, and other “toys”), or commodities (food, fuel, and sundry items) are likewise subject to taking for the “public good”, and that the very possession of certain quantities is by default a crime.

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