Earlier this week I held an enrollment meeting for a 401(k) retirement plan and several new employees attended. Most were young, in their early to mid-20’s. As the meeting progressed, several good questions were asked about the plan. Then as we discussed investments in the plan, and fluctuations in a typical market cycle, several of the younger employees began to question if investing was a good thing. That’s when one employee, just re-hired at age 61, spoke up and shared some of his experience with investing. He told them, “In 2001 and 2002 I lost half of my account, but I kept investing and within 2 years I was back at my highest account value plus some.” A few of the younger heads popped up and began to listen closer to him. He also shared a similar experience in 2008. He finished by telling them to not only get into the plan and “save now” while they were young, but to “stick with it” even when times get rough. He told them “it will pay off in the long run.” I added some additional thoughts, but really didn’t need to say much to his wisdom – the point was made.
On the drive back to the office I began to think about the meeting. I thought about a friend who calls every time the market goes through a large correction and says “it’s a good opportunity to buy while the prices are low.” He’s in his 30’s and understands that time is still on his side. He also doesn’t panic and keeps a good perspective on things as the market gyrates. Disciplined investing does take time. It also can certainly have its pain along the way. Yet as you move through these experiences you learn, and over time can grow.
I’m reminded of a verse that says, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Heb. 12:11) In much the same way, this can be true with investing. For the moment (in the short term) we sometimes feel pain… yet if we stick to our plan, we often may see a good yield down the road (in the long term).
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