8 Startling Facts That Will Make You Want to Invest

Sometimes you need to be startled into action when it comes to investing. It's easy to come up with excuses not to begin placing money in the markets and saving for retirement. Armed with the right information, however, most people would likely choose to invest rather than stay on the sidelines.

Perhaps it's time to digest these eye-opening facts and realize that waiting to invest could be a big mistake.

1. The average retirement savings is measly

According to a 2016 survey from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, baby boomers have an average retirement savings of $147,000. Those from Generation X have an average $69,000, while millennials have $31,000 saved. Those figures have probably risen slightly in the last two years, but are still well shy of the totals necessary for a comfortable retirement.

Older people approaching retirement age may have held off investing in their earlier years and are now playing catch up. Younger people have more time to invest and get to where they need to be — but the longer they wait, the harder it gets. (See also: 7 Retirement Planning Steps Late Starters Must Make)

2. You may be retired longer than you worked

Imagine starting work at 21 and retiring at 60. That's 39 years in the workforce. If you live to 100, that's an additional 40 years — longer than the time you spent working! People are living longer these days, so it's not uncommon to see retirees still kicking it well into their 90s and beyond. In some cases, retirements are stretching past 40 years. Are you doing all you can to allow your money to last that long? Smart investing may be the only way to accumulate enough cash to support a retirement of that length. (See also: 5 Ways Longevity Is Changing Retirement Planning (And What to Do About It))

3. Very few people get a pension these days

Defined benefit plans, in which a company guarantees workers a specific amount of money each year in their retirement, have been going away fast. Today, only 13 percent of nonunion private sector workers have access to a defined benefit plan, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Instead, most companies now only offer defined contribution plans, such as a 401(k). With these plans, workers must invest their own money, and companies may offer to match a certain percentage of contributions (some don't). If you're in the workforce, it's likely incumbent upon you to take charge of your own retirement savings. (See also: If You're Lucky Enough to Receive a Pension, Here Are 6 Things You Need to Do)

4. Half of workers say they'll probably work during retirement

Isn't the entire idea of retirement to stop working? For many people, ceasing to work entirely just isn't in the cards. The Transamerica survey revealed that about half of all workers — including baby boomers, Gen Xers, and millennials — expect to work at least part-time during retirement. Working is fine if you want to, but if you dread the idea of punching a clock in your old age, invest now.

5. About 20 percent of seniors rely on Social Security for nearly everything

Social Security is certainly better than nothing if you're retired, but it's not a lot of money. The maximum Social Security benefit for 2018 is $2,788 per month, or about $33,500 a year, if you retire at age 66. You could get up to $3,698 monthly if you are willing to wait until age 70 begin accepting payments.

You won't starve, but you're not going to be cruising the Mediterranean, either. And yet, roughly one in five Americans over 65 rely on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income, according to a 2015 study from AARP. There are some states where this figure rises to more than one in three older residents. This is a startling figure when you consider that Social Security is currently running a deficit. Invest now, so that Social Security can be like icing on your retirement cake. (See also: 5 Questions to Ask Before You Start Claiming Your Social Security Benefits)

6. The market rarely has bad years

Everyone remembers when the market crashed about a decade ago during the financial crisis. And there have been some high-profile bad years in the past. But consider this: Since the end of World War II, the S&P 500 has recorded a negative annual return just 15 times. That's 15 bad years out of 72. The New York Yankees have won 17 World Series titles during the same period! Only once since World War II — from 2000 to 2002 — has the market had three bad years in a row, and there's only one other instance of back-to-back negative annual returns. So even if you had no idea what year it was and still chose not to invest, you'd likely be missing out on positive returns. (See also: How the Risk Averse Can Get Into the Stock Market)

7. Almost as many people own dogs as stocks

About 54 percent of Americans own stocks, according to research from Gallup. Meanwhile, the American Pet Products Association reports that 48 percent of Americans own dogs. Dogs are nice. Dogs can be enjoyable. Dogs are good to have in retirement as companions, but they won't appreciate in value or help pay the bills as you get older.

Invest now, and you can have a comfortable retirement, complete with as many canine friends as you want.

8. If you invested $100 in Amazon 20 years ago, you'd have $50,000

When Amazon went public in 1997, its shares were trading at about $18. As of this writing, the company is now trading at more than $1,300 per share. A simple $100 investment 20 years ago would be worth tens of thousands today. Of course, Amazon's stock returns aren't typical. But it goes to show how even a modest investment over time can prove to be enormously lucrative.

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