NEW YORK (MONEY Magazine) - So does that 1999 way of getting rich, the stock market, matter anymore? Yes, but definitely not as a quick way to wealth.
One of the reasons that people thought you could get rich in a hurry buying stocks a few years ago was that many people did. The S&P 500 returned about 28 percent a year for the five years ending in 1999. It was fun while it lasted, but that party is long over.
The optimists expect stock returns in the high single digits for the foreseeable future. That's enough to move you up quite a few rungs on the economic ladder and provide for a nice retirement if you save diligently, but it won't push you into the top income tier unless you're practically there already.
"You're not going to get rich with investing," says Coral Gables, Fla. financial planner Harold Evensky. "You're going to get rich inventing widgets, or by being an outstanding person in your professional field, or by putting sweat equity into real estate or a business."
Over the long run, though, the stock market still offers a good return, particularly if you start early.
A return of, say, 6 percent a year doesn't sound very dramatic, but over twenty, thirty or forty years of investing, that can mean serious money. And at substantially a lower risk than Rosie Herman took on.
Good thing. After all, not everybody is wired to make it in business or in real estate. Not everyone is cut out for grad school either. But there's no earthly reason that every American can't have a nice, fat nest egg.