2023 has (so far at least) been a year to forget for many FTSE 100 stocks. As I type, the UK’s leading share index is down around 2% since the start of January at 7,322 points.
But I’m not dismayed by the Footsie’s disappointing decline in the year to date. I invest for the long haul, and investing in UK stocks has long proved to be a great way to build wealth over time.
In fact I’ve used recent share price weakness to buy a string of UK blue-chip shares. This isn’t just because it might help to supercharge my eventual returns by buying low today and one day selling high.
It’s also because I believe I probably have to keep investing if I want to retire at a decent age.
Older workforce is growing
Latest statistics this week from The Centre for Ageing Better show how more and more older people are being forced to stay working to make ends meet. It said that “there are now almost one million more workers aged 65 and above in the UK labour market than there were at the beginning of the century.”
The charitable foundation says that more than one in nine (or 11.5%) are now working past their 65th birthday in the UK. This is more than double the one in 20 recorded at the turn of the millennium.
The current cost-of-living crisis has led to a jump in how many older people are still in the workforce. But don’t be fooled. the number has been steadily growing as the State Pension has failed to keep up with living and social care costs.
This trend looks set to continue too as the government struggles to fund an increasingly large elderly population.
Man with a plan
I believe that investing in FTSE 100 shares could help me avoid a similar fate. A quick look at the returns of Britan’s leading share index since the mid-1980s shows why continuing to invest here is a good idea.
According to IG Group, the FTSE delivered an annual return of 7.48% between 1984 and 2022. The past isn’t a reliable indicator of future returns. But if the index continues to deliver this return I would — if I invested £500 here each year — make a life-changing sum of £618,146 over 30 years.
As I said at the top, I hope to make even better returns than the broader market by buying quality stocks that are trading below value. And right now there are many to choose from as investors have panic-sold top companies during the course of the year.
Some of the FTSE index stocks I’ve added in 2023 include Diageo, Ashtead Group, Aviva and Legal & General. And I plan to continue carefully researching to find more bargains to buy. It could make the difference between me retiring comfortably at an age of my choosing, or struggling to make ends meet when (or if) I eventually stop working.