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Slow and Steady Wins the Race… So They Say!

I'm not big on cliché's... for most, I can never figure out the origin or real meaning. Is there a difference between a "cliché" and a "saying?" In the South, they both seem to take on a descriptive life of their own: "slickern' a greased pig," "harder than a stubborn farmer... " and in the Southwest- "it came up on me faster than a Haboob." Cliché's and sayings are endless, entertaining and sometimes can be used for a learning experience. Slow and steady wins the race is usually illustrated by a race between a tortoise and a hare. The outcome is clear that to win, a slow walk will be more successful than a fast sprint to get you to that golden finish line. The question is- how slow do you walk to get to the desired destination in the allotted time? How will you know if you left enough time to get there, wherever there is? Lastly, when will you know when you've arrived?

Saving is a tortoise and the hare kind of thing. Everybody has a different philosophy on saving: putting a set amount away each paycheck into your retirement plan, banking your tax return, socking away your bonus, or any of a hundred methods of building a nest egg. A study I read said that of 1000 millennials surveyed, over 70% were depending on either inheriting their parent's wealth or winning the lottery to fund retirement (I kid you not!) Not to pick on our little loved ones, but after you finish laughing, consider it true: it's yet another method of trying to win the race. Clearly, it's the hare philosophy: with mortality rates going up and our generation living longer, we are having a grand time spending their inheritance! The chances of winning the lottery are so slim, it's not the odds I would stake my retirement on. The hare philosophy can come in big- the problem is if it doesn't come in, you've got nothing. Bupkis. Zilch. Zip. Nada... and you'll work until the day you die, or work will kill you- whichever comes first.

I prefer the tortoise strategy. Put a little away for each defined period for a long time, checking the amount you have against the amount you will need, and slowly but surely (there's another cliché!) you'll win, or at least come in the front of the pack of the race. The race may be retirement, a second home, a boat or classic car. It may just be saving to build up a nest egg for a rainy day, but a goal none-the-less. Get a raise? Increase your savings amount by the same percentage. Not necessarily the same amount: if you get a 10% raise, add 10% more to your 401(k). Inflation takes a huge bite out of spending money, and if you don't increase your deposit, each year your contribution buys less and less in the future. Nobody ever complained about saving too much or having too much money put away. You sleep better, and sounder. You'll reach your finish line with room to spare... as long as you continue to plod along, check your progress, and keep the finish line in sight regardless of how far away it seems today. Kind of like the green on 12... so close, yet so far! See you on the tee...

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