Your age, the state of your health, the number of dependents you support, the kind of job you have, whether you are a man or a woman, what kind of goals you have set for yourselfall these, and more, are factors which will bear on your decision about whether to invest.
There is no rule, no prescription governing these factors, either singly or in combination. Again, the decision is yours. It is well to wonder, however, whether your personal situation contains any elements that might conflict with your freedom, need, or desire to invest.
There is, for instance, no age more appropriate than another for investment. But it is conceivable that a young man might find family obligations, such as a new house, absorbing all his resources, that a middle-aged man might prefer to invest surplus funds in his business, and that an elderly man might feel he is too far along for the amount he is able to invest to bring him any significant return.
On the other hand, a young man, if he is able to invest at all regularly, can look forward to a fairly considerable estate in 30 or 40 years. A middle-aged man who finds the premiums for a new insurance policy higher than he feels like paying might decide that investments might help cushion the requirements of the years past 60. And an elderly man, with family responsibilities and obligations behind him, might decide that a sturdy stock returning a comfortable 5 or 6 percent is better than the interest rate he can get at a savings bank.
As these, examples indicate, ageor any other single factorimmediately involves other considerations. Good health helps guarantee steadiness of income. Poor health suggests the need for a larger-than-usual emergency cash reserve. A number of dependents may mean that there is nothing left over for investment, or that the surplus should be invested more conservatively than in stocks, or that the surplus, with reinvested dividends, could provide a college fund in 15 years. The kind of job you have is important only in so far as it relates to steadiness of income. If you operate on a system of incentives, bonuses, and options of one sort or another, you may wish for more stability than stocks offer, in the kind of investment you undertake. If you have a year-in, year-out salary level, stocks may be just the thing to give you that wished-for extra edge.
Or it may be just the opposite. As a bonus man you may have learned to live comfortably with the prospect that one week may be up and the next one down. And, as a steady Joe, you may find it more alarming than it's worth to have the price and value of your holdings vary.
Whether you are a man or a woman will not have much to do with your readiness to invest. For, surprising as it may seem, the Stock Exchange survey referred to earlier showed that there are more women shareholders than men. Out of the 12.5 million total, nearly 6.4 million, or 52.5 percent, are women. Certainly brokers will tell you that women customers are no longer the rarity they once were.
The kind of goals you have will very often be bound up in just such things as whether you are young or old, in business or retired, childless or the chief of a tribe; and the achievement of many of them will require money. If that is so, investment is worth serious consideration.