Married people in their late 40s and early 50s fear one thing much more than death: running out of money in retirement.

The numbers are staggering. According to a survey by Allianz Life, 18% of married people in their 40s rank fear of death as their biggest concern, while 82% rank being old and broke as their No. 1 fear.

The horrible job most have done preparing for retirement is one of the reasons this fear is so prevalent. But much of this anxiety can be reduced or even eliminated with minimal effort.

It all starts with knowing how to invest your money and understanding the information and data that will make you feel confident about your retirement.

Do Your Research

The first step is to understand market history. I have been recommending this to my clients and readers for years. It’s a real eye-opener.

The best place to start is to study charts of the S&P 500 or the Dow, whichever you prefer.

Or you can go to Yahoo Finance and pull up a quote for one of the indexes and click on the “Historical Data” tab. This will give you day-to-day, week-to-week and month-to-month historical index numbers.

Study some of the worst periods for stocks – 1929, 1932, 1987, 1994, 2000 to 2001 and 2008 to 2009.

Focus on how much the averages dropped during the bad days. Then – and most importantly – trace how long it took for the markets to recover.

Notice that no matter how bad the selling got and no matter how long it went on, it always recovered and then most often ran higher… much higher. Since I started working in the markets in 1991, the Dow has run up 767%, from 2,882 to almost 25,000. There have been downs too, but there’s always a recovery.

And that’s what studying market history will teach you: recovery.

Understand Averages

Next, to develop a sense of what the markets can do for you, you need an understanding of their long-term averages. Just search the internet for annual return averages for whichever index you follow.

This should ratchet up your attention level and appreciation for what can be accomplished.

A 50-50 stock-to-bond portfolio had an 8.4% average annual return from 1926 to 2017. That means you would have more than doubled your portfolio value every 10 years.

And holding a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds more than triples what holding cash will do for you.

But if you aren’t invested in the markets and aren’t contributing to your retirement plan every paycheck, it won’t matter.

The markets are our best and, in most cases, only option to fund our retirements. Don’t fear them – get to know them and embrace them.

Good investing,