Why You Don’t Need To Become a Miser In Order To Retire Successfully!
Have you ever read a book or an article on money that made you feel guilty for buying an occasional $5.00 latte, going out to dinner once in a while or even taking a vacation? Or maybe you were trying to educate yourself on finance and you ended up getting lectured to and made to feel small because you started too late, you didn’t do enough or your views on enjoying some of your money now seemed to be made to look absurd? Tired of being money shamed? Me too, and I feel like someone needs to speak out about it.
One of the big problems with financial education is that the so-called educators and gurus give condescending advice to the masses. Then the masses walk away from the experience wishing they had never bothered to try and better themselves in the first place. Most financial advice is either too complicated or too overwhelming to be of any real help to the average person just trying to figure it all out.
Let me give you an example: One of the tried-and-true tenants of traditional “Financial Advice” is as stated above, if you are not independently wealthy you should never enjoy a five-dollar coffee from a coffee house. Instead, you should buy gas station coffee for fifty cents and put the other $4.50 into your retirement fund. Then they continue by proving this with math. If you save $4.50 per day for 30 days per month and you earn just 12% interest on all of that money (they never mention the possibility of loss) those lattes are really costing you one million dollars over the course of your lifetime!!!!! How dare you enjoy all of that coffee before you were able to become independently wealthy. Stop this bad habit immediately and, run to your nearest Financial Advisor and open a Brokerage Account and the rest of your life will be magic.
Is there any truth to this argument? Of course, there is. They even showed you the math so you could feel extra bad about it. And let’s face it, if you crunch the numbers I am sure the math is correct but does that make this good advice? Well first of all this brand of advice is normally delivered with such a harsh tone that all it normally accomplishes is making you feel guilty every time you go through the drive-through of that coffee shop with the green coffee goddess on the logo. But is this the only way to find financial success? Deprive ourselves of the simple pleasures in life? Is it really required that we live a life of deprivation in order to save up all of our money for someday when we will get to finally enjoy it? Should we feel bad about enjoying a few luxuries along the way?
What if there was another way? What if we could have our Cake Pop and eat it too? How is this for an alternative method without judgment? What if you save just 10% of everything you earn (or 5% if that’s all you can afford right now, or even 3% if you can’t fathom 5%) What if you put that into a separate savings account in a separate bank somewhere that you will try and leave alone until you reached a reasonable savings goal. Maybe you could shoot for saving up an emergency fund if you don’t have one already. And when you hit that goal you keep your good habit you developed and you start putting that money into a long-term investment for your future. And then you spend everything else you make and enjoy it. And by enjoy it I mean you can even go get that latte you were craving, the one with the cinnamon, brown sugar, and double shot of espresso. Yeah, you know the one.
My contention is that it’s not only OK to enjoy an indulgence once in a while, it’s mission critical. Our lives are stressful enough and if a $5.00 coffee makes you feel special and warm and fuzzy inside then go ahead and drink one, and hey if that’s not your thing that’s fine but my suspicion is that you do have a thing. Most of us humans do. Maybe it’s getting your nails done, getting a massage, or going out to that fancy restaurant with your significant other. Personally, I like to collect Playing cards and magic tricks because I am a nerd but hey that’s my problem, not yours. That’s what life is about. Don’t wait to do those things. But don’t wait to start a quality savings program for your future either. Chances are you can do both.
By the way, you might think you can’t afford to save 3,5, or 10% of your income but have you tried? If you’re thinking you already have a hard time paying all of the bills there are two things to consider. One if you have not tried paying yourself first, try it. Most people realize that they don’t miss the money they are saving at all and wonder why they didn’t start this habit sooner and then they up the percentage gradually over time and it actually becomes fun. Two, if you are really struggling just to make ends meet then you need to figure out why? Are you getting paid what you’re worth? Could you change companies in order to get a raise, people do it all of the time. It’s called Job Hopping. If you’re not in that kind of job and you don’t think you have much to offer, can you change that? Can you increase your value? Can you learn a new skill to make yourself more valuable or start a side hustle doing something you enjoy? I’d rather see you reach out to improve your situation than to live less of a life now in order to live a better life latter. No one is promised tomorrow. I hope that makes sense.
The five-dollar latte is just one financial myth that has been thrown in our faces for far too long. A Myth that has been used to make us all feel like our lack of financial education is our own fault like we all just don’t care enough to sacrifice and that’s why we are not where we would like to be financially and not prepared adequately to retire. I say hogwash! We drink five-dollar lattes because its an indulgence because it’s the one place on the planet where we can get something made to order exactly the way we want it and not be judged for it, it’s an experience many of us crave, and with all of the other garbage we have to put up with in life, we deserve it. It’s hardly running our future or standing in the way of a healthy retirement plan. We can afford it, and we can still save what we need but we do need to have a plan. A plan we can feel good about not one we get shamed into.
I wrote this short blog post because I am thinking of writing a short book to help bust some of the other myths I am tired of seeing good people like you get forced-fed by traditional financial gurus. Myths that are potentially robbing you of happiness, and the feeling of security knowing that you actually CAN have a happy retirement WITHOUT becoming a Wall Street Wiz or feeling like you are somehow less than the Financial Gurus that tend to make us all feel small for not living up to their ideals. Is this something you would like to read more about? Is there a financial Tennent that irks you that you would like me to attack? Something that never seemed right to you but seems to be accepted as fact by others? Please send me your comments, I really need to know what you have to say. Thanks for reading and I hope to get your feedback.
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