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Investing and Savings Lessons From the Age of Exploration

InvestorEducation / Resources & Reviews Nov 01, 2008 - 04:50 PM GMT

By: Money_Morning

InvestorEducation When the going gets tough, I often draw inspiration from the most unlikely sources - many of which have nothing to do with the financial markets.

Books are one such source. The one I want to tell you about today - "Emperors of the Ice: A True Story of Disaster and Survival in the Antarctic, 1910-1913," by Richard Farr - chronicles Capt. Robert F. Scott's Antarctic expedition at the tail end of the Golden Age of Exploration.

In the interest of full disclosure, Richard Farr is my brother in law. But I'm recommending his new book to you because of how good it is, not because of who wrote it. And "Emperors" is exceptional by any standard. Not only is the book inspirational on an intensely personal level, but it's a ripping good read, too. I actually raced through it in two sittings.

Told through the eyes of 23-year-old Apsley Cherry-Garrard - who joined the expedition despite having no special skills, terrible vision, and a complete ignorance of exploration - the author captures the essence of what it takes to survive and triumph, despite overwhelming odds.

The reason I want you to read this book now is because many of "Cherry's" observations apply to today's financial crisis - no matter that they were learned a century ago. In particular, I want you to focus, as I did, on the notion of not giving up - despite "overwhelming odds, unrelenting pain and terrifying danger."

I mention this because a new study from TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. (AMTD) shows that 63% of Americans have essentially "given up" and have completely stopped contributing to their retirement plans. More than half cited financial strains related to the downturn as the chief reason for that decision. As a Money Morning story detailed earlier this week , another 32% attributed it to unemployment, while a quarter of the folks surveyed said that rising healthcare costs was the main reason they'd abandoned their retirement plan.

When I look at this report, all I can think about is the calamitous situation these people will one-day face - especially since history demonstrates that it's much tougher to get back into the markets than anyone realizes. And much more costly, too.

In closing, I know that it's hard to think about investing when survival is a more immediate concern. But it's important that we continue to put money away if for no other reason than it makes us stronger if we refuse to give in to adversity.

Even if it's only a few dollars at a time.

Best regards,

By Keith Fitz-Gerald
Investment Director

Money Morning/The Money Map Report

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