Armchair Millionaire Community Bulletin - Today’s Investor Has Huge Advantages

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Every generation faces its financial challenges, but today's investing world offers us advantages our parents could hardly have even imagined. Leverage them to the fullest to make the most possible of your saving and investing years.

Every generation faces its financial challenges, but today's investing world offers us advantages our parents could hardly have even imagined. Leverage them to the fullest

to make the most possible of your saving and investing years.

I think it's definitely worthwhile to take a good look at where we are now and consider where we came from. It's easy to take many of the financial advantages we have today for granted, and instead focus only on the challenges.

We posed your interesting question to members of the Armchair Millionaire community and heard a wide range of responses from both sides. Here's a sampling:

"My parents had it a lot easier. They had jobs with the same employer for 30+ years. They have good pensions so Social Security is not a concern for them. Taxes were lower then and daycare was not an issue. If you work inflation into home prices I would say theirs cost about half as the same home today." --John

"Anyone who wishes to return to the good old days is free to travel right now. In the '50's, it was difficult to get a checking account in many banks unless you had a large sum of money. In the '60's, women could not get credit, including bank loans, unless their husbands or fathers co-signed. In the '70's many mutual funds were not available to small investors. The sheer number of valuable, cost-efficient vehicles available to the small investor is overwhelming, giving us all a fighting chance to succeed in reaching our goals. I'll take the 21st century, thank you!" --Bonnie T.

Every generation faces its own financial challenges, whether that be the Great Depression, runaway inflation or, in today's case, skyrocketing health care costs and a shaky Social Security system. But on balance I believe that with the incredible progress in the investing world over the last 20 years, we have it best of all right now. My guide provides just a few of the advances that have been made that every investor should take advantage of.

The Armchair Millionaire's Guide to Today's Investing Advantages

Investing options. A generation ago, your main investment choices were stocks, bonds, CDs and savings accounts, period. Now, from exchange-traded funds to managed accounts, investors have a choice to meet virtually any need. The very best option? Without a doubt, mutual funds have transformed the way we invest. Now investors with even a small amount can enjoy broad diversification and professional money management. And index funds make a good option even better by efficiently capturing the market's return at an extremely reasonable cost.

Lowered trading costs. Yes, it really did cost several hundred dollars to execute a single stock trade not so long ago. With the advent of "discount brokers" (a term now falling out of use since virtually all brokers have sharply reduced their trading charges), you can buy and sell stocks for less than the price of lunch.

Information availability. In the old days, average investors might have stacks of annual and quarterly reports on their desks and still not have a clear picture of how their investments were performing. The Internet has revolutionized information access to the point that individual investors now can easily and quickly obtain the data that used to be available only to stockbrokers.

Information management. With today's software and online tools, it's easy to track individual investments and, even more important, manage your entire portfolio.

THE BOTTOM LINE: While every generation faces its financial challenges, today's investing world offers us advantages our parents could hardly have even imagined. Leverage them to the fullest to make the most possible of your saving and investing years.

This column appears each week on CNNMoney.com, the Web sites for CNN and Money Magazine.

Syndicate this weekly column in your publication or Web site: http://www.armchairmillionaire.com/weeklycolumn

ArmchairMillionaire.com was founded in 1997. The company's first book, The Armchair Millionaire, was published in 2001. Today, http://www.ArmchairMillionaire.com is an established community of common sense savers and investors.

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Lewis Schiff