What Are We Investing For?

You’ve squirreled away a bunch of acorns, now what?

“I’ve laid around and played around this old town too long / Summer’s almost gone, winter’s coming on. . . .”    —“Gotta Travel On” by Paul Clayton

Summers seemed endless when I was a boy of 7 or 8, with every day an occasion to go out and play all day with my friends.

Of course, summers aren’t endless. Eventually, fall comes, and even for young boys, that marks a return to serious business, ever shorter days, and rain, sleet, and snow.

In the summer of our lives—in our 30s, 40s and 50s—many of us reach our peak earning years, and just like squirrels in late summer, we start to store our financial acorns for the coming autumn. And here’s a mixed metaphor for you that combines two old sayings: we squirrel away our nest egg for the future.

In that peak earning period of my life, I obsessed over building a nest egg to the point that its size was my goal.

But now that little boy has grown old. I am in the autumn of my life. It seems almost embarrassing to admit how trivial that goal was. Important, but trivial. Money is never an end, because money itself is always a means to some other end.

On our death bed, who thinks, “I really wish I had more money”? The race is not about who dies with the most money. It’s always been about how much we can enjoy our lives and provide enjoyment for others, how much we loved and were loved. Only a fool faces death wishing they had more money.

All of which begs the question—why build that nest egg?

Keeping with that mixed metaphor, of course, it’s for the same reason the squirrel gathers acorns—for the autumn of their lives.

Money makes it possible to help our loved ones. It makes it just a little easier to love, becaus it gives us one more avenue for giving, sharing, and enjoying together.

In our peak earning years, our savings and investments are a way of storing excess energy. If we are fortunate enough to earn more than we need, then the excess can be stored for future use.

I heard a song once that was really a personal story set to music. A musician driving his van and listening to music pulls into a gas station to fuel up. While he’s there, a young man comes to the same gas station with music on so loud that the man cannot hear his own music. So he walks towards the young man to ask him to turn it down. Before he gets there, the young man stops him and says, “What you want, old man?” His answer is beautiful: “Old man? Let me tell you something. You go to bed every night and wake up every morning, and if you keep doing that and you’re really, really lucky, maybe someday you’ll get to be an old man.”

If you’re like me, and you got lucky and are now old, the time has come to consume some of those acorns we’ve been storing. Get out that bucket list. Take a trip to see family or some old friends. Or just take a significant other out for a nice meal for no reason.

Yes, we still have to be careful. Since none of us knows how long we will live, we have to judiciously consume those acorns with the intent that they will last to the end.

Of course, you may have a goal of making your money last longer than that. Most parents would like to leave a legacy gift to their children and grandchildren. And those with or without children might also have charitable goals.

To achieve these goals of your money lasting until your death and beyond, it’s important to start with a plan. All planning starts with your goals and then maps out steps to get there.

This is the value of a financial plan, and it may be one of the most significant plans you ever make.



Hal Masover is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor and a registered representative. His firm, Investment Insights, LLC is at 508 N 2nd Street, Suite 203, Fairfield, IA 52556. Securities offered through, Cambridge Investment Research, Inc, a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/ SIPC. Investment Advisor Representative, Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Investment Insights, Inc & Cambridge are not affiliated. Comments and questions can be sent to hal.masover@emailsri.com These are the opinions of Hal Masover and not necessarily those of Cambridge, are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed or acted upon as individualized investment advice. Investing involves risk. Depending on the types of investments, there may be varying degrees of risk. Investors should be prepared to bear loss, including total loss of principal. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Indices mentioned are unmanaged and cannot be invested in directly.