Haley's Parents Should Have Listened to Us

In 2011 our family dog, Scout, died. Scout had been with us for over a decade, the product of a trip to the pound in the late 1990s when my kids were young.

She was always a bit mean, a mix between a terrier and some sort of schnauzer. She’d throw all 50 lbs of her body weight at the door whenever someone came up, and if a stranger reached out a hand, she’d bite.

No matter how many times I told people, “She’s not friendly,” there was always some dog lover bound and determined to prove that they could pet Scout without incident. They were usually wrong.

Scout was also the best companion in the world for my youngest child, who was barely one year old when Scout joined the family. They literally grew up together. We’d often find my youngest curled up in Scout’s bed, with her favorite blanket thrown over both of them.

Once we found our daughter reading a bed time story to the dog. I asked what it was about, to which she replied, “Cats, of course!” I should have known.

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Our youngest is now in high school. The oldest is in college and the middle one is months away from going to college. These are the people for whom we bought the dog, so having Scout pass away with the kids nearing the time to leave home seemed perfect. Interestingly, it was also predictable, and it is something that we at Dent Research have been predicting for decades.

Now, I had no way to know that Scout would pass away in 2011. What I DID know was that consumer demand for veterinarian services peaks at age 46, which makes perfect sense. We get married around 26, have kids around 28-30, and by the time the kids are three or four years old they’re pestering us parents for cats and dogs.

Twelve to 14 years later those animals are reaching the end of their natural mortality. At this point, we as parents are in our mid to late 40s, the kids are busy with school, friends, and sports, and so often we don’t replace the pet… which leads to a decline in vet visits.


This is exactly the sort of thing we teach in our Demographics School, which we’re hosting this April 24-25, and it would have helped Haley Schafer immensely. She is the young lady (30 years old) who was profiled in the New York Times a few weeks ago.

As a newly minted veterinarian she has hit a job market that is overrun with vets. According to the article, vet visits peaked in 2006-2007. Given that the peak number of births in the U.S. was 1961, from our calculation (adding 1961 to 46, the peak age for vet visits) the peak year should have been 2007.

This means Haley was pursuing the education needed for her dream career just as the market was turnrning south. And Haley was not alone, apparently class size at vet school has been increasing dramatically, by as much as 20% in a year.

So there are more vets coming out of school and there is a declining need for the service. Well, we know what that means. Fewer jobs and lower pay. Turnrns out this is exactly the case.

Over the last decade the starting salary for vets has fallen by around 13% when adjusted for inflation, down to $45,575. While this number is not a terrible starting income, it could make it difficult to pay back student loan debt.

And Haley is carrying over $300,000 in student loans. Yep, that’s right, almost one-third of a million dollars in student loans to become a veterinarian. While her debt load is extreme, the experience of a high price tag for the education is not.

The Association of American Veterinary Medicine Colleges estimates that out-of-state tuition, fees and living expenses run the average student $63,000 per year… and that costs have increased 35% over the last decade. Keep in mind, this is while starting incomes have fallen.

That’s why Haley needed us. More specifically, why Haley’s parents should have read our work and attended our seminar.

Kids going to college are akin to entrepreneurs. They’re starting out their lives in a business or industry, so they need to take the time to estimate how the economy and world are going to change during their careers. Haley’s parents could have done this on her behalf.

This is one of the areas where our demographic and consumer spending research shines. Imagine being able to estimate future demand for cars, clothes, camping equipment… almost anything! Using such information a family can make much better choices about what avenues young people pursue and how their education dollars are spent.

This might not have changed Haley’s path, but at least she could feel confident that she made her decisions while knowing all the facts.

Now you have a chance to do what Haley’s parents didn’t: attend our seminar and then use the invaluable information we share with you during those two days in April to make better investment and financial decisions… and help your kids do the same. I suggest you reserve your spot now

P.S. Just to prove that God has a sense of humor, after our dog passed away my wife was adamant that we would not get another one. The job of cleaning up after Scout and generally caring for her had fallen to my wife because the kids were so involved in other things. This lasted six months. We now have an 11-month old puppy that looks amazingly like our old dog… just a lot less mean.

Pet stocks are, well, a breed of their own.

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They’re one-part consumer discretionary. After all, the choice to own a pet is discretionary… that is purely optional. They’re also one-part consumer staples. Just as people continue to eat food during difficult economic times, boosting food-related consumer staple stocks like Kraft (NASD: KRFT) and Dole (NYSE: DOLE), most owners continue to feed and care for their pets, even when their budgets are tight…

Rodney Johnson

Rodney’s investment focus tends to be geared towards trends that have great disruptive potential but are only beginning to catch on to main-stream adapters. Trends that are likely to experience tipping points in the next 5 years. His work with Harry Dent – studying how people spend their money as they go through predictable stages of life and how that spending drives our economy – helps he and his subscribers to invest successfully in any market.