My seventh birthday party was on a Saturday afternoon in April 1969. One of the boys showed up late for the gathering, and rather than purchase a gift, his mother had provided him with a crisp new $1 bill for me. He presented it with great fanfare in front of all the others at the party.
A little context here: This was just a few months before the Beatles released one of their final creations, Abby Road. Around this time, I remember complaining when chocolate bars doubled in price from 5 cents 10 cents each. Penny candy was just that - a penny. In fact, some was a penny.
We had a little movie house in Lynn Valley called the Cedar Theatre, which played second run movies for 5 cents each. There were eight of us birthday partiers, meaning we could all go catch The Beatles movie Help! for a grand tally of 40 cents.
Permission was happily granted by my mother, whos home got unexpectedly quiet while we trotted off, completely unsupervised, about a mile up the road on foot the see the show. I was the picture of boyish delight, leading that group of eight with my $1 bill folded up proudly in my hand.
On arrival at the theatre, we were surprised to see that a traveling fair was in town, and nearly decided to spend the money on the ferris wheel rides instead of a movie.
Still feeling like a tycoon, I proudly bought all my friends their 5 cent movie tickets, then purchased 5 bags of candy for us to split, at 10 cents each, all for a total of 90 cents. This left a shiny dime for my pocket.
Help! was a strange movie for a seven year-old boy to digest, but I couldnt help but drink up the music. The harmonic rhythms of You're Gonna Lose that Girl, made it my favourite, but I was stung by another song as we left the building. As a child of divorcing parents, it disturbed me that anyone would get a Ticket to Ride and not care.
As we walked back past the small temporary fair, everyone agreed that as the birthday boy, I should enjoy a Ferris Wheel ride alone, and the last dime went for my very own ticket to ride, forever putting a more favourable twist on the song for me.
It blows me away to chronicle how far a dollar went back in 1969. Not many years after that party, prices began to soar for everything from groceries to real estate. We sold our home in Lynn Valley in 1970 for $40,000. Last time I checked, it was worth about $900,000.
Perhaps this is more of a horror story than nostalgia.
Investors beware. Our retirements will probably last some 30 or 40 years. As we manage the risks, one of the most pernicious threats is inflation, sneaking up on us like Maxwell with his silver hammer. Presently we limp through interest rates so low that there will inevitably be an erosion of our purchasing power if we sit, nervously waiting in cash or short term GICs for too long.
Maybe Ill retire when Im 64, but I dont want to be the fool on the hill at 94.
On the other hand, maybe Im a loser if I dive too heavily into the stock market putting capital at immediate risk. What is a prudent investor to do?
I cant do the answer justice in just a few words, but suffice it to say, it is very much subject to each investors pallet. If you do it right, youll say baby, Im a rich man, but dont let the golden slumbers fill your eyes or you may find yourself on Penny Lane.
Mark Ryan is an advisor with RBC Wealth Management, Dominion Securities (member CIPF) and can be reached at mark.r...@rbc.com.