We didn't have such a thing as IRA retirement account on that small Iowa farm. In fact, I don't know any of our neighbors that had much more then their land as a retirement account. And at that, most of them never retired, they just died earlier than the average age now, so no need to save for a long future of sitting on a beach somewhere.
My folk's retirement account was the farmland, the animals they had on it and the machinery that farmed it. There were meager amounts of money left over from the milk check and the livestock check to save anything in the bank. What wasn't used to maintain the farm was used to feed our family of nine. We received new school clothes and shoes each year, but other than Christmas and birthdays, that was about it. No going to movies or professional ball games, no trips to the pizza parlor for a Saturday night out. We didn't miss those things because we never had those things to miss.
I don't think I ever heard the word "retirement" until later in life after we moved off the land and into a more urban setting. My folks bought a small resort in northern Minnesota and they ran it until they couldn't run it any longer. Neither of my parents ever really "retired". There was always a broken water pipe to fix, a stove that needed tending or someone's light bulb went out in a cabin. At the resort, there wasn't much money left after all the needs of the resort were tended to either. Similar to the milk and livestock checks. But, Ma and Pa never complained, they were used to that type of lifestyle. Farming will teach you some tough economic lessons whether you like it or not.
Investments were the furthest thing from those farmer's minds. We did have a neighbor who lost six good Iowa farms gambling on pork belly futures. His dad had worked his fingers to the bone putting those farms together only have them lost betting on the markets. I was told the story by my Grandfather a number of times of his personal experience of losing a thousand bucks on a stock during the Great Depression. A thousand dollars in 1936 was not a small amount. He never bet on anything again in his lifetime. He sold his shares for around a hundred dollars. Luckily, he was able to hold onto the land.
Today we are barraged with tons of "experts" constantly telling us how to make money off the markets. They produce slick commercials showing only the topside of investing. New fancy homes, big boats, island get-aways and the ability to travel the world. All those invites come across the airways daily. I always note the fine print on the bottom of those ads which no one can possibly read. Those lines of fine print are there to disclose that you could lose your b... if the market decides to take a dive.
Retirement investments nowadays do tend to pay off and offer a way to sustain us as we journey into the ether lands of aging. We just hope the money will last longer than we do. In my growing up years most farmers never saw the other side of sixty-five years old, so a retirement account would have been mainly useless, except to have their kids squabble over.
I was just thinking the other day about what our neighbor who had lost six Iowa farms would have been worth today by just staying put. Farmland now sells into the tens of thousands of dollars per acre in that area. When he was farming it sold for about $250 an acre. Pork belly futures ate it up for him.
So, yes today I do have a retirement account. I watch it like a hawk. I just retired last month. I figure on hanging around awhile longer. It's an even bet if it will run out of juice before I do.
I did sneak a peak at what that thousand dollar stock that Gramps bought in 1936 would be worth today. Let's just say, Gramps would have been happy and should never have sold.
See you next time. Okay? Be safe!