After 30+ years and meeting with literally thousands of people along the way, I've been asked just about anything there is to ask. While primarily financially related, I never know what the context of the conversation is going to be from meeting to meeting: everybody is different, and every situation is different. I do have to admit though, there is one common thread if I had to pick one: the majority of people who come in and tell me they are finding that they thought things would be different for them at "this time in their life." While I work and meet with people of all ages, primarily most of the people I meet along the way are 50+ and have done the house thing and raised the kids, and are either pre or post college. Yes, there is one common thread: "I thought I would be further ahead by now than I am."
At this time in 2016, we are bombarded with information. The average person watches about 3 hours of television a day, spends countless hours surfing the internet, reads magazines, newspapers, articles, junk mail…and many have one thing in common- advising you to save. I understand that life gets in the way, but there seems to be a disconnect between the fantasy and dream of a financially secure retirement and actually doing the things necessary to make it happen. Prudential Securities© (This is not by any means an endorsement- just a conversation) runs a series of commercials hosted by a professor aimed at pointing out what people think they will need for retirement vs. what they will actually need. Another company touts their “green line” to retirement- just follow the green line and we’ll lead you onto a successfully funded path to your golden years. Yet another shows a dedicated Certified Financial Planner® burning the midnight oil calling his clients and meeting with them at all hours of the day or night to help them achieve their financial goals. If during commercials you find that this is the time to visit the refrigerator, you’re missing the best show of all- a view into your future. These companies and many others are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to inform you of the inevitable: you're going to be old enough to retire, and if you don’t fund it sufficiently you’re going to work until the day you die, or conversely, work is going to kill you…and you thought getting a snack was more important? I’m drawing a blank on this one...
I’ve often heard "I can't afford to save right now" or even "I just can’t even think about it now- I’m too young to think about retirement." Well, my dear friends, you can't not think about it, and you're never too young to think about it. I've often heard that the eighth wonder of the world (I don't know what the first seven are) is the wonder of compounding. This is the act of a number (presumably your money) growing over the years (hopefully) growing unto itself not unlike a plant which through the years send up shots and grows new limbs- using itself to compound over time- the more time, the more compounding and potential growth. So, I hear it over and over: I hear the reasons why you can't save, I hear the reasons why you don't want to save, and I hear the reasons why you can put it off until later and magically it will be there when you get older and greyer. I read a staggering statistic that 32% of millennials are not saving because they plan on hitting the lottery or will inherit the wealth of their parents-32%... how's that for a statistic! (Note to Mom and Dad: you worked for it; have a good time spending it!) The money you put away for age 65 at age 20 has more time to grow than the money you wait to put away at age 50- simple logic. But, it appears that that bag of chips or other important snack at the ‘fridge is more important than absorbing the message thrown at you 50 times a day. If you don't pay attention to the message all around you, if you don’t save and take control of your own future, don't complain when you have to work until 80- if you make it.
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