Tuesday, March 1, 2011

ON FUN ~ A Penny Saved...

Piggy Bank
Image courtesy MaeDae via Flickr

At the age of 45, writer Regina Brett wrote a column for the Cleveland Plain Dealer listing 45 lessons that life had taught her thus far. As a breast cancer survivor, many of those lessons were learned the hard way. Five years later she added five more lessons rounding her list up to 50 and turned her popular list into a book called God Never Blinks. I found her list to be entertaining, inspiring and thought provoking. I thought I would go through each of her lessons learned and write about how that lesson has or has not come up in my own life, now that I am 40 and feel old enough to have finally learned something.

"Start saving 10% for retirement as soon as you get your first paycheck."
~ LESSON #24

Ooooo. I am all over this one. First of all, I have worked for a financial planner for the last 17 years so it is kind of ingrained in my brain. Second, I have pulled myself out of debt twice so I understand how hard it is to budget and save. Third, no one else is going to bail you out when you are retired or too old to work. Not the government, not your family, not the lottery. If you want the quality of life that you deserve, you have to create the funds you will need to not be a burden, to not have to worry and to not have to sacrifice later for all of the fun you had when you were young and stupid.

Teach your kids how to set aside a portion of their allowance into a piggy bank to be saved for a certain goal. Learning that process from an early age ingrains the concept in their impressionable brain and may even turn into second nature later in life. It also means they are more likely to have extra cash lying around for when you need it when you realize you forgot to save for yourself - haha.

Seriously. Just defer $20 a pay period to start. That small an amount can easily be made up for somewhere else in your budget by skimping on something else. And it will go right into your company's retirement plan that many times will even be matched by your employer. That is essentially free money.

Invest more aggressively when you are younger and moderate to more conservative as you near retirement. Don't panic when your account values move like a roller coaster when you are younger. You have plenty of time to be patient or reposition. When you are older, you won't have to subject yourself to that stress since you will have already made your allocation less volatile.

I know that you have to survive today to live for retirement later. I know there are circumstances that leave you in debt. But I also know that when you are earning money, the only way to keep from working your entire life is to set aside a few pennies at a time. It takes discipline. And devotion. Be strong, care about yourself and save for your future. No one else will.


soleil said...

This is such sage advice. I'm still working on this one.

kayerj said...

It's a constant effort--but well worth it.

Jenny Girl said...

If you do at least $20 you may not even feel it, you are so right!!! Excellent lesson :)

Kathleen said...

Those little dollar amounts add up over time! So true!