Once more, I swerve away from animation to tell a tale every animation employee faces: earning a living and saving for retirement.
I relate the following story because a) it's a good one, and b) I've had too many people call or come through TAG's office over the years and say (more or less) that they were 63 years old and flat broke, without job prospects, and without any pension except for the piddly amount they were getting from Social Security. So listen up:
Ever heard of a woman named Anne Scheiber? Probably not, but Anne is the poster woman for "It's never too late to start investing."
Anne was an IRS examiner back in the 'forties. And thirties. Along about 1944, Anne reached retirement age and decided it was time to hang it up. And so she took retirement…on a queenly $3,150 annual government pension.
For the next fifty-four years, Anne lived quietly and simply in her small, rent-controlled apartment in New York City. She clipped coupons, shopped for discounts at the local stores, ate home a lot.
As far as anyone could tell, Anne was just one more Big Apple pensioner, squeaking by on a small and miserable fixed income. But lo and behold, when Anne passed away in 1995 at 101, her will was opened and the larger world found out that the little woman in the tiny apartment had left a $22 million dollar estate to Yeshiva University. And that her stock investments were earning around $1 million per annum, most of which she didn't spend.
So what the hell was going on? Actually something relatively simple. Back when Anne retired, she took the $5000 in savings that she had scraped together and began investing it herself.
Anne, you see, had been burned by various stock brokers during the 1930s, and had resolved to never depend on them again. She did her own research, chose her own stocks, and by the time she passed away 53 years later, her stock choices had grown at the rate of around 12.5% per year. And the paltry five grand had mushroomed to $22,000,000 and counting. (Ah, the magic of compoudning.)
Anne's strategy was simple. She did her homework. She bought quality stocks. And held them. And held them. And held them. When she died, she had 60% of her assets in stocks, 30% in bonds, and 10% in cash. The classic asset-allocation fund.
The moral of this story is not: make big run-ups on your investments every year, nor is it to live like a church mouse while you have millions tucked away. The point of the story is, no matter how old you are, no matter how far down you think you might be, you always have the ability to put money into an investment and commence building a nest egg.
If Anne Scheiber was able to do it after retirement on a three-thousand dollar a year pension, you and I and everyone else in this on-and-off business can do it.