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The Indefinite Article.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Grown-up Things To Do

One of the grown-up things I've been doing for a while now is putting money into a retirement account. I've also been reading more of the sales literature that the retirement account folks send me every now and then. In the latest brochure, I'm struck by the similarities between financial services and pharmaceutical advertising. It is beneficial stuff, but it is also stuff that makes people and corporations very wealthy. Likewise, the benefits seem concrete, but the risks are hazy and buried in booklets of small type.

In today's ad there is a misleading graphic comparing how much of a difference it means to someone investing the same amount earlier in the year. It uses a non-proportional bar chart to accentuate the difference. The message is about changes in the tax structure:

  • Higher contribution limits let you save more.
  • Recent tax breaks give you more to save.
  • The Benefits of increasing your contributions early in the year.
Notice the one that isn't a complete sentence? Something seems fishy to me. It isn't fishy in the wrong-doing sense, but in the sense of a good thing being oversold.


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