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Numbers That Can Make and Save You Money


If you somehow managed to avoid the 5 worst trading days each year, you could have earned a staggeringly high return on your investments. Here are a list of other surprising figures that could have a significant impact on your wallet.

  • Over the last 35 years, for each $100 left in the market, somehow avoiding only the worst 5 trading days each year, you could have accumulated about $126,000 more than if you hadn’t avoided these bad days. That is according to Biryani Associates, who somehow neglected to mention how to avoid those perilous 5 days each year. Conversely, we know that missing out on the also unpredictable 5 best trading days of the year will cost you even more money over time, so most advisors stick with staying invested and taking advantage of the historical trend for the ups being greater than the downs.

  • According to research from Cambridge University, adult money habits are determined by age 7. You can certainly change habits that you do not like, or that are counterproductive, but it is somehow comforting to know that when things go south you can always blame your parents’ behaviors foisted on you long ago.

  • A 2013 Allianz study found that even among women earning over $200,000 per year, 27% fear becoming “bag ladies.” “We are just one pink slip, one medical catastrophe or one failed relationship away from homelessness.” Men’s attitudes do not fare so badly, at least in part because our role in society remains more privileged. And yet, in the end, women end up with the majority of assets. What’s up with that?

  • 22% of Americans say that they have inherited money, averaging $69,000. Not surprisingly, 38% of households earning over $250K received something compared with just 17% of those earning $15K, according to FiveThirtyEight.com. Just reinforces the claim that “Them that has, gets….”

  • The other side of the coin is the Williams Group, which claims that 70% of families who inherit wealth lose some, or all, of it to estate battles.

  • Researchers in Europe report that offices that have leafy plants average 15% more productivity than those that don’t. And we know that docs’ offices are perceived as more calming when they feature plants. A green, leafy environment taps our atavistic snake brains to help heal and possibly stay financially afloat while doing it.

  • “Despite surging college costs, it now takes just 10 years for graduates to recoup the cost of their university degrees. In 1980, it took graduates nearly 25 years to earn back their investment.” Businessinsider.com makes that claim, despite the contrarian opinion you would get just from looking at headlines about student debt. I guess the difference is that the degree is now paid off earlier IF you get the requisite job….

  • An AARP study found that 71% of respondents were unaware of maintenance fees paid to their 401(k) provider. Yet plans almost always do carry fees, which may reach 3% per year, depriving plan participants of up to 50% of their total, final returns. Time to check what your situation is. Keep in mind that if you pay whatever fees are required from money outside the plan, you 1) get a greater, tax-advantaged total return in the plan, and 2) you might deduct those fees on your 1040. Check with your tax advisor.

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice