I’m not the kind of person who thinks much about the future. Perhaps I’m pessimistic. Perhaps I just spend too much time in lala-Fantasy Land. Whatever the reason, I was always like, whatever I’ve save for retirement when I’m 30.
Well, guess what…I turned 30. So I begrudgingly opened a Roth IRA last winter and put the most amount of money I could stand to part with in there. It wasn’t much. But it was open.
Since then, every time I turn around, someone is talking about retirement. SAVE! THE SKY IS FALLING (in 30 to 50 years)! RETIREMENT! SAVE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE!
Like, really? Slow your roll. But it is important.
Let’s talk about the “You only live once!” argument because that is what most people say, us younger people especially. You know what happens to broke people when something breaks down? Their car? Their water heater? Whatever? They go into debt. You know what happens to broke people when they can’t pay all the debt they’ve wracked up? They go bankrupt. You know what happens to broke people when they’re 70? They’re eating generic dog food for dinner.
That isn’t a myth, people. It actually happens. If you spend all of your money when you’re young, you’re picking up cans on the roadside for a living when you’re achy and 80 so you can buy some milk to go with your bowl of dog food.
When I first heard a story like this, I was like, “That won’t happen to me.” Because I’m going to start saving “one day” right? Guess when one day is. It’s TODAY!
You don’t have to put away a lot. I’m sure as heck not putting away a lot. And the earlier you start, you less you have to save! According to my retirement calculators (because I’ve used several, of course), if I keep saving what I’m currently saving, I’ll be okay when I’m 70. I won’t be rich, but I won’t be eating dog food. Unless I just want to.
That was a relief – to know that I would actually be okay and not have to work if I was too tired to work anymore, you know. So I started saving for retirement. Enough to make progress, but not so much I can’t still go on vacation and buy an iMac one day and have like general fun, you know.
My father is in his 60s now and says that it pays to save when you’re young and still have lots of energy to work. He’s not falling apart, but he can feel he’s not young anymore. The good news is that he can slow down now if he wants because he has money coming from somewhere. The guy likes to work, but it’s nice to have options, right?
And you don’t have many if you turn 75 and break a hip with $50 dollars in the bank. (Dollars flagged for some yummy kibble!) Sure you can become a burden to one of your kids. Or you can let the government take care of you and all the other broke seniors in a nice, under-funded little community center. Maybe it won’t smell like piss, but wouldn’t you rather live in a condo on the beach with your best friend from your senior water aerobics class? Or in a nice little bungalow down the street from your grandkids? Or in a nice apartment in your daughter’s house and be able to actually pay for your own crap?
Retirement doesn’t have to mean you don’t work anymore. Retirement means you have options. You get to CHOOSE where you live and what you do with the rest of your life. If you don’t want to work, you won’t have to. If you want to work, but maybe less, you can and you can enjoy it that much more because you won’t have to depend on it. Retirement money gives you the choice to do whatever you want when you’re old and entitled and giving teenagers the stink eye when you see them in their crazy future get-ups at the grocery store, where you’re buying whatever you want! Not whatever is the absolute cheapest thing you can survive on.
Start small. Start today. Right now. Even if you’re just putting it in a CD or even just a regular money market because the stock market freaks you out. It freaks me out. Some money is ALWAYS better than nothing.