Don’t Worry About Retiring… Just Work on It
I’ve spoken to a lot of people in the 20-something range (my range, coincidentally), and there is a general consensus my generation has reached about retiring. Unfortunately, it has a few issues that can be summed up in a single sentence:
“I don’t have to worry about that yet.” That’s sort of right. Sort of.
Let’s dissect this particular statement, and take a look at how many things are terribly wrong about it… but first, let’s take a look at how it’s actually right in a couple of ways.
First off, the person who states that they do not have to worry about retirement at 20 years old is absolutely correct. At that stage of life, you could go live in the most backward part of China or India, where $100 could last you a few months. And for a few hundred bucks, you could take a slow boat over there, which will keep you covered for a few weeks.
So really, if you did not have a great deal of foresight, you would figure (quite rightly) that if all else failed, a couple of grand could keep you going. And not just for awhile, but for a year or more.
Of course, that is only if you are willing to live under the kinds of conditions a lot of young people can (and would) live under. As a religious person might say, “this, too, will change.”
And it’s true that worrying about your retirement is about as effective as worrying about paying your taxes. Firstly, worrying about it will not help you to accomplish anything constructive.
And secondly, worrying about something which is far away (and only partially under your control) will do serious damage to your quality of life. And if will only get worse, as your worry compounds throughout your working years.
If you’re a little worried about your retirement at 25 years old, by 65 you might have worried yourself to an early grave over the matter. And while that does solve the whole “retirement issue,” that is rather like solving your mortgage problem by burning down your home. Just slightly on the counter-productive side. Well, not so slightly.
So, the idea of not worrying about it is reasonable in some ways. But in most, it’s a pretty bad way to think at any age.
For one thing, our early working years are when we lay the groundwork for everything we intend to accomplish in our lives. We make the friends we will eventually grow old with (or pall bear).
We meet the mates we will divorce after awhile, and use as conversation fodder with our future life mates. We practice health habits that we simply will not get away with again, as we finally realize that we are no longer teenagers (a fact I might eventually admit to myself).
So, as we start on the path we have chosen, part of that path has to be ensuring that we will have something besides the defined-benefit pension we probably won’t receive, the Social Security which will secure us a cardboard box and a dented can of dog food for every meal, and the savings that most of us simply do not have.
But unfortunately, you are going to have to work on your retirement. Start with the small things, like saving a few bucks a day that you put into an account you don’t touch.