Historically, the stock market has been one of the primary markets utilized by investors to create wealth and save for their future. Today is no different – the vast use of 401ks and other employer sponsored plans keep a significant amount of our wealth involved in the market in one way or another. One thing that is different, however, is the returns that we are experiencing in the market.

The S&P 500, which is considered the broad based index for our stock market, returned 214.337% in the 80s and 320.237% in the 90s. With returns like that, we didn’t need to pay attention to our accounts, we didn’t need to adapt to changing times, we didn’t need to worry about having enough money when we needed it – investing was easy. Needless to say, we’re in a different market than we were in the 80s or the 90s, but how different? Would it surprise you that in the decade starting in 2000 the S&P 500 returned a -22.111%. Yes, a negative return. A smarter approach to investing is necessary these days – investors need to learn about their portfolios, they need to educate themselves about the options that are available to them, and they need to recognize that the old method of “Just save and you’ll have enough” isn’t going to work anymore. Even in today’s market, there are plenty of ways that investors can generate the returns that are need in order to be able to save enough to ensure their money lasts as long as they will need it to.

“The only thing more costly than education is ignorance” – Benjamin Franklin