Long Shots

Apparently March Madness has a bearing on more than just the college basketball tournaments.
First off, the good folks at outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas have once again stopped to figure out the costs of the NCAA tournament to employers.
Apparently with up to 37.3 million workers participating in the ubiquitous pools – and assuming they spend just 10 minutes a day during the 16 days of the tournament thinking, talking about, or watching the games (and perhaps shedding the occasional crocodile tear for a misplaced upset pick) – that’s $1.7 billion in lost productivity (and that’s assuming they make just $17.50/hour, mind you – the average employee wage, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics).
The fact that those numbers are regularly compiled by a firm that specializes in outplacement is surely just a coincidence.
Pool Ponderings?
Even more difficult to believe is a recent study by the Lincoln Retirement Institute that found respondents plan to spend more time in March pondering their retirement savings needs than they will on those NCAA pools. Now, lots of folks don’t participate in those pools – and nearly three-quarters (72%) said they would spend less than an hour making their NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball picks. So far, so good.
But in that same surveyed group – an online group of roughly 400 American adults – a whopping 87% said they will spend up to five hours….this month….pondering their retirement savings. Would that was more than good intentions (that surely has to be more than most people spend in a full year) – unless, of course their pool results contribute significantly to – or drain significantly – those retirement savings accounts.
Moreover, twice as many people surveyed gave themselves an “A+’ for their in-depth knowledge of their 401(k) plans and investment choices versus their knowledge of NCAA tournament player statistics and college team rankings. Nearly three out of five gave themselves a passing grade for their knowledge of their 401(k) or retirement plans, with men nearly twice as likely as women to give themselves top marks (“A’ or “B’) for 401(k) knowledge including investment allocations and stock options.
Of course, these are self-evaluations – and did you ever grade your own test in school?