By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF®
IRA Analyst

Charlie Brown, wearing a ghost costume full of too many eye holes cut in all the wrong spots, famously peered into his trick-or-treat bag and said, “I got a rock.”

One of the best parts of Halloween remains. It is the moment at the end of the night when, after an evening of hard work, a plastic jack-o-lantern or pillowcase full of candy is dumped onto the living room floor. Oh, what sweet treats were collected! The scents of chocolate and sugar waft into the air and, after a glorious moment, the booty is organized into piles of “like” and “don’t like,” chocolate and not-chocolate, like lollipops and licorice and gum.

Imagine the absolute disappointment if Charlie Brown were to dump his goody bag onto the floor and nothing but rocks spilled out. Heartbreaking. An utterly depressing conclusion.

I like to think the other members of the Peanuts gang shared some candy with Charlie Brown, or maybe the few rocks he received were just part of an unlucky streak. Maybe he trudged onward and his homemade costume wasn’t judged so harshly on the stoeps of the later houses he visited. Maybe those “rocks” were gag gifts and there was chocolate inside. I hope he ultimately received some good candy. Maybe his parents, in their odd “wah-wah-WHAwah” voices, had a bucket of chocolate bars left over and gave them to Charlie Brown at the end of the night.

No one deserves a bag of rocks. Not on Halloween, not in retirement. However, not everyone’s parents are able to give their child a chocolate nest egg. Not everyone has friends who can share the wealth. Recognize that some of us get more rocks, and some rocks are insurmountable without assistance. Go ahead and collect your candy. But if your pillowcase is full of chocolate at the end of a life-long trick-or-treat adventure, maybe reconsider eating it all yourself.

As for those wearing a ghost costume with a few too many eye holes – your outfit can be fixed. Also, check your retirement goody bag frequently so you know what’s been collected. If you have a string of bad luck, stay positive. Talk to others and formulate a strategy to replace rocks with treats.

Monitor your investments and bank accounts. If something isn’t working, make a change. Consult with professionals who can help design a better costume or reconfigure your trick-or-treat route. Reassess goals. How much candy do you need? What path must be taken to accumulate that candy? Will you share some with the less fortunate? Organize.

Blindly meandering through life, only to dump a financial bag full of rocks on the floor at the end of a career, would be tragic. Do not allow it to happen. Opportunities abound. Stay open and alert to new ideas. Work hard. Visit all the houses. Be curious. Communicate. Mind your candy, and be generous.

If you “got a rock,” then keep ringing doorbells. Treats will come.

Persevere, Charlie Brown!

Persevere, Charlie Brown!

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