Growing up I l was a fan of classic old movies.
Casablanca…Rear Window…Singing in the rain…
But one of my absolute favourites was The Time Machine, based on the novel by H G Wells.
In case you never watched it, George, an English inventor, creates a time machine, which by the way, looks pretty cool…for its time, of course.
On 31 December 1899, George starts progressively travelling into the future at different time intervals.
He visits 1917, when England is at war and sees German zeppelins scattered throughout the sky.
From there, he travels to 1940. England is still at war with Germany, but this time he sees flying machines.
And then goes on to 1966 where he sees the beginning of a nuclear war…
He then travels through centuries of darkness.
His next stop is 12 October 802,701. It’s only then that Earth seems to have recovered from the nuclear attack.
There he discovers humanity has developed into two different types of people.
One are the gentle and peaceful Eloi who live a simple life. They don’t work, eat fruit from the trees and enjoy the sun at the stream nearby.
The others are the Morlocks who live underground. They only come out at night, and feed on the Eloi…
When George decides he wants to go back to his own time, he realizes the Morlocks have taken his time machine underground. George is stuck in this dystopian future.
Anyway, I won’t tell you anymore.
A challenging environment for investors
But I’ll say one more thing about older movies though. If you have watched any of them, you’ve probably noticed how much slower the pace was.
There was time for pausing and taking in the scenery…for silences…for scenes that don’t seem to add to the plot.
Movies move a lot quicker today. No doubt, it’s because it is now very hard to compete for your attention.
We have Netflix, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook…
Most people usually even double screen. What I mean is, they will watch TV as they scroll through their phone.
But, it’s not just movies that move fast.
We have a lot of information at our disposal and things change very quickly. We barely have time to process things before there is a disruption and things change.
It makes it a challenging environment for investor.
Anyway, I digress.
How can you travel back in time?
My point is, wouldn’t it be great to be able to travel in time?
If you had a travel machine at your disposal, you could travel forward, like George did, to see what the future holds.
You could travel back in time too.
You could do great things with your knowledge today back then. Of course, not everything about travelling back in time is great either.
But, too bad travelling in time is impossible. Or is it?
Well, it turns out you can travel back in time. At least when it comes to finances.
What I mean is, you may have worked hard all your life to gather some savings, buy a home, build a portfolio…but any ill-advised or poorly-timed financial mistake could set you back in time.
I saw this often after the financial crisis in Spain.
In the US, baby boomers, who should be enjoying their retirement, are saddled with debt, mostly student debt.
From the Wall Street Journal:
‘One generation of Americans owed $86 billion in student loan debt at last count. Its members are all 60 years old or more.
‘Many of these seniors took out loans to help pay for their children’s college tuition and are still paying them off. Others took out student loans for themselves in the wake of the last recession, as they went back to school to boost their own employment prospects.
‘On average, student loan borrowers in their 60s owed $33,800 in 2017, up 44% from 2010, according to data compiled for The Wall Street Journal by credit-reporting firm TransUnion. Total student loan debt rose 161% for people aged 60 and older from 2010 to 2017—the biggest increase for any age group, according to the latest data available from TransUnion.’
It’s not just student debt though.
‘Student debt is one of the biggest contributors to the overall increasing debt burden held by seniors. U.S. consumers who are 60 or older owed around $615 billion in credit cards, auto loans, personal loans and student loans as of 2017. That is up 84% since 2010—the biggest increase of any age group, according to the TransUnion data.
‘The borrowing build-up has upended the traditional arc of adult life for many Americans. Average debt levels traditionally peak for families headed by people aged 45 to 54 years old, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute based on data from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances. But between 2010 and 2017 people in their 60s, like most other age groups, accelerated their borrowing in nearly every category, according to the TransUnion data.’
Too much debt can set you back in time, and even put you at risk.
It could affect your family wealth and legacy to future generations.
Editor, Markets & Money