By Robert A. Stabile, EA, ABA

Considering the recent Billion Dollar Lottery that was just won by one lucky winner in South Carolina, it got me thinking, do people think winning the lottery is a Dream or a Fantasy?   This is an interesting concept, because I always refer to savings for retirement as living towards the American Dream. Yet, many investors I speak with consider retirement a “fantasy.” I would like to dedicate this article at helping our investors understand the difference between a Dream and a Fantasy.

I saw an interesting blog on Quora that sums up the differences between a Dream and a Fantasy. While I like to say that “I dreamed this all up,” I must give credit to Quora for some of the definitions listed in this blog. That said, I am also going to relate these ideas as it pertains to my observations on how some investors perceive saving for retirement. First understand that I am not referring to the word “dream” as a nocturnal dream as when you sleep. We are talking about the figurative expression of dream as in “The American Dream”

First: Dreams are something you act on, while Fantasies are something you think about. One can dream of owning a house, or a fancy car or a large retirement account. Then one can create a deliberate plan and take action to start saving money until their dreams are realized. A fantasy is merely a thought such as winning the Billion Dollar Lottery that was just won by the one lucky winner in South Carolina. The fantasy often focuses all around on all the things that money can buy. There is relatively no action required in having this fantasy, except to buy a ticket, cross your fingers and hope for the best. The reality is that the “dream” of owning that house, fancy car or having that large retirement account is achievable by many, while winning the Lottery is just a fantasy which has the same chances of coming true as being struck by lightning.

Second: Fantasies are free. Dreams have a cost. Anyone can sit around and fantasize at no cost. But once you have set upon a Dream, there is a cost for just sitting around and doing nothing to realize your dream.

Third: Dreams have deadlines. Fantasies don’t. Once you set your sights upon a dream, you set an expiration date on when you would like to achieve that dream. Then you take the appropriate actions towards meeting that deadline.   Fantasies can go on forever. Let’s be real, how many people continue to play lotto in hope that one day they will be the one? This fantasy creates the perpetuation of playing that one dollar forever? But unfortunately for some, a dollar isn’t enough, then it becomes 2, 5, 10 to the point where some people think the fantasy will come true the more dollars they spend. That can be extremely dangerous, as some people may begin to speculate and gamble with their earnings and possibly even their savings until they lose it all.

Fourth: Dreams produce results. Fantasy’s don’t. Want to change your life? Your Job? Your Status? Dreams can do that? I dreamed of Coaching Investors to achieving their American Dream by investing prudently with their life savings and not to speculate and gamble? I took massive action to accomplish this. Had it just been a “fantasy” I would have not done anything to achieve the results I have gotten. I still dream to be one of the top investor coaches in my region. I assure you that the actions I am taking now will get me there!

Fifth: Dreams must have focus. Fantasies don’t. A fantasy can lead you to forever drifting in different worlds. They can be ever-changing because they are not something that you have to attain. Dreams must have laser focus. They must be specific, and they must always be on the forefront of your mind.

So how does all this relate to investing? As I said in the beginning, I like to refer to saving for retirement as living toward the American Dream. I often run into some investors who state that their quest for a comfortable retirement is merely a fantasy. When I ask them why, they tell me something like, “I fantasize about retiring comfortably, but I keep trying to find right places to invest my money that will give me the best return and I just can’t seem to keep up!” Then they go on to say, “So thinking I can accumulate enough money for retirement is just a fantasy for me!”

The problem here is that this investor didn’t understand the difference between a dream and a fantasy. You see, this investor is living towards retirement in the world of fantasy. That is why his investment strategy is focused on chasing the best return instead of investing prudently. We refer to this as speculating and gambling with the goal to get rich the quickest way possible. It is no different than betting every day on the Billion Dollar Lottery! Fantasies will always lead towards speculating and gambling.

Saving for retirement, or how I like to refer to as living towards the American Dream, takes focus, action and discipline. It begins with the Dream. We help our investors understand what their American Dream means to them. Then we coach them on how to become prudent investors so that the can truly achieve their American Dream.

If you want to learn more, then call Robert A. Stabile, Investor Coach at Higbie Advisory, LLC – 1-800-276-2161