This is a story about Three Little Pigs – you’ve just met The Good Little Pig in this video …
The Good Little Pig
He belongs to (in fact, is the “official spokespig” of) a wonderful organization called Feed The Pig: a worthy and noble cause sponsored by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and The Advertising Council with the aim of encouraging and helping Americans aged 25 to 34 to take control of their personal finances.
Unfortunately, in their enthusiasm to bolster the meager savings rate of our next generation of movers and shakers, they seem to forget a Very Important Piece of Information …
… but, first let’s meet the 30 year old ‘Wolf’ [AJC: actually, he’s just a bachelor … but, as far as the girls go, he’s a wolf alright 🙂 ] earning $50k a year.
The Good Little Pig – in his Sunday Roast Best Pink Suit – asks the Wolf to set aside 5% of his gross (or $2,500 this year), with the following assumptions:
The Good Little Pig then tells the Wolf that if he agrees NOT to blow his little house of straw down, that he would show the Wolf how this will make him rich … accounting for all sorts of different life events …
… the Wolf thinks it’s a great idea!
The Good Little Pig makes good on his promise and shows the Wolf how just saving $2,500 a year (5% of his salary) can mushroom (goes nice with pig) to anywhere from $179,000 (even if he loses his job, takes time out to go back to school, then starts his own business pretty late in life) …
… to a massive $555,000 (if the Wolf gets a job and promotions pretty quickly, followed by a bonus here or there).
The Wolf promptly blows the little house of straw down and eats the Good Little Pig.
He’s still hungry so he looks for another pig.
The Bad Little Pig
Fortunately (for the Wolf, not the Pig), the Wolf chances on The Bad Little Pig who has heard all about what happened to the Good Little Pig on the pig grapevine (vine goes very nicely with pig … particularly a nice Cabernet very slightly chilled below ambient) and admonishes the Wolf saying “how could you eat my bro’, when he showed you how a measly $2,500k could become anywhere from $179k to $555k over 35 years?!”
The Wolf was surprised: “Why?” he said, “it’s clearly because I would be stuck in some lousy job, sucking up to my boss to get the max”.
To which the Bad Little Pig responded: “But, if you did nothing but save $2,500 a year and increase it just with minimum pay increases (nothing fancy, no promotions, no sucking up to the boss,) then I can show you how to get $678,000 over 35 years … surely, you’d like that?! But, only if you promise not to blow down my little house of sticks …”
Before the Bad Little Pig could finish his sentence, the Wolf blew the Bad Little Pig’s house of sticks down, finishing him off in just one bite (hic!).
But, not quite stuffed (unlike the pigs … in more ways than one), the Wolf went searching for more pig.
The Ugly Little Pig
Being Pig Season, the Ugly Little Pig was easy to find; he was honest and gave the Wolf the plain, ugly truth:
“Look, if you really promise to spare me – not that you can do much damage to my bricks & mortar financial stronghold (after all, the Lehpig Brothers have been around for a hun’erd and a score years or more) – I’ll tell you that you can’t get anywhere saving just 5% of your salary, no matter how many promotions you get. You can (and should) save at least 3 times that … $7,500 of your salary now and keep increasing it as your salary goes up …
… that will give you over $2 million when you retire in the lap of luxury in 35 years. Easy, simple … and (almost) guaranteed.”
The Wolf asked: “Wow! I’ll be a multi-millionaire … is that it, the best you can do?”
To which our very Ugly Little Pig answered, smug behind his brick facade: “What more do you want?! Start your own talk show if you want more, Wolf, now leave me alone”.
I don’t think that I need to tell you, what with the poor quality of mortar and workmanship these days, this was the easiest of all the pigs to get to and eat.
You see, our Wolf wasn’t as Good, Bad, or Ugly as the Three Little Pigs …
… he was an average Joe who didn’t just buy into the financial hype spruiked by the financial ‘professionals’ and the ‘do gooders’; at least not without also checking the numbers with a simple spreadsheet himself.
That little spreadsheet showed him just what I’ve been telling you all along: because of inflation (even if it only averages 4% for the next 35 years), $2 million in 35 years is only worth $507,000 today, which provides the Wolf a fairly ‘safe’ retirement income of just $25k a year (in 2009 dollars) … just half his current salary!
When asked why he ate all the pigs who were there to help him, the Wolf simply looked back at the numbers, and sighed:
“Why go without pig today, just to have the same or less pig tomorrow?”
Disclaimer: No pigs, advertising exec’s, or accountants were harmed in the making of this post.