The Wealth Builder's Worst Enemy

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Financial markets are unpredictable.

Investors? Not so much. They overreact when markets hit turbulence. They slavishly follow trends. If it worked last year, it will definitely work this year, right?

Wrong.

Yet that's human nature. To varying degrees, we're all hindered by our cognitive biases. We have innate limitations. We don't always let reason trump emotion.

Today I want to talk about something that, if left unchecked, can ruin you. In fact, it has brought down some of the greatest empires man has ever built. It's an internal rot that destroys from the inside, often unnoticed.

I'm talking about complacency.

In a society such as ours, it's hard not to be a bit complacent. Even the worst off among us are comfortable by global standards.

Yet this complacency is dangerous. Retirement is an expensive habit. If you want an elevated standard of living throughout your later years, complacency needs to go out the window.

You need to act now.

The looming retirement crisis

Several factors conspire to make the situation urgent. Longevity in the U.S. continues on an upward curve.

The U.S. Census predicts average American life expectancy will hit 80 in the next few years. Within a few decades, the Census expects that figure will rise another three or four years.

Some observers feel these calculations are far too conservative, however. Government officials do not take into account potential breakthroughs in biotechnology or other scientific areas when calculating lifespan.

In 2009, the MacArthur Research Network on an Aging Society released a study predicting the average American could live as long as 86 by 2050. That's an increase of almost a decade over today's numbers.

Even that projection may prove too cautious. Advances in gene therapy and other bleeding-edge treatments could prove highly effective in treating today's most lethal diseases.

End of life care continues to become more refined. Doctors are becoming incredibly skilled at prolonging life.

Today we live on average 30 years longer than we did just four generations ago.

Want to hear another shocking statistic? A few years ago, the prestigious medical journal The Lancet released a study on aging. The study claimed half of all children born in industrial nations after the year 2000 will live to be 100.

Let's hope they're all already running lemonade stands in an effort to build wealth.

They're going to need it.

Likewise, so will you. Even if you're a strong earner with considerable assets, your future may not be assured.

So why aren't we acting? Why isn't there a mad push to create as much wealth as possible?

You guessed it -- complacency.

Retirement is changing -- your wealth building strategy needs to keep pace

Let's face it - retirement isn't what it used to be. Yet we think it is. Many of us are laboring under the delusion that our non-working years will bear close relation to those of our fathers.

In reality, they might more closely resemble our great-grandfathers' final years. That generation worked until they were physically incapable of continuing.

The safety nets that have kept this generation of retirees afloat may not be there in the coming decades. We can't rely on underfunded government programs to fill in the gaps for us.

The "retire at 60 and play golf for 20 years" era is disappearing rapidly. You may have to finance a 30-year retirement. Fail to save enough money and you might never retire.

Complacency is the wealth builder's worst enemy.

The Romans built the greatest empire the world had ever seen. They were masters of politics, trade, technology and war.

Yet all that wealth and comfort made Roman elites complacent. The doctrine of "bread and circuses" kept ordinary citizens distracted and comfortable.

Soon the Romans weren't even fighting their own wars, preferring to outsource that task to Germanic tribes. Complacency had infected every stratum of society.

And it all came crashing down.

America isn't late-period Rome. That's a lazy comparison. We're not a society in terminal decline.

Yet we are a society whose conception of retirement hasn't kept pace with reality.

Are you prepared? Are you truly dedicated to putting smart wealth-building principles into practice? Are you determined to root out complacency whenever and wherever it seeps in?

If so, keep reading.

Because we've got a lot to talk about in the coming days, weeks and months.

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