Mardi Gras is next Tuesday, so this week's throwback is to the same time of year in 2006. Nancy visited the Alabama coast for the weekend before Fat Tuesday. Enjoy!
We spent the weekend before Mardi Gras in South Alabama, the original home of the over-the-top celebration. I grew up with this tradition in South Mississippi, so it seemed quite natural to me... standing on street corners and screaming for beads and doubloons. I can tell you, first-hand, that the holiday in Foley, Alabama, is a bit more subdued than in New Orleans.
The garish colors are the same, but the similarities end there. One different "throw" is the moonpie. It's an Alabama staple. Of course, the costumes are not quite as outrageous. The floats are simpler and smaller. The bystanders are more sedate and tend to stay fully clothed. And the participants are older. No, they're just downright old.
They're the snowbirds from Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, and the like who spend their winters in the sunny South. They've adopted the customs of the natives... dress up in wild clothes, have a parade, fight over a purple set of beads, party like there's no tomorrow.
Here, though, the party is timed to catch the early bird specials.
Everyone knows that the good times of Mardi Gras are followed by the sacrifice and sobriety of the 40 days of Lent. You can't have one without the other.
The math is interesting. One day of debauchery must be balanced by 40 days of "giving up." The analogy for investors is clear.
Spend a short time in your youth spending like there's no tomorrow, and you'll only make up for it with many years of hard work and discipline. I see it all the time. People in their 40s wake up one day and realize they need to be saving for retirement. They spent their youth thinking the day would never come, and, now, they have to make up for lost time with a lot of "giving up."
Waiting until middle age to save for old age means drastically increasing your savings rate to catch up. It also means having to be riskier on your investments in order to build your portfolio faster. It's a scary world when you've let the good times roll and now are facing being rolled over. It almost makes you want to skip the party.
Well, almost. Maybe you could just time it to make the early bird special!
--Nancy's New Perspectives Newsletter, Volume 47, March, April 2006