Regardless of what age you are now, I am sure you have given some thought about tomorrow. If you haven’t, then maybe you should. Tomorrow can really sneak up on you in a hurry. I have a daughter and is seems like yesterday she was turning 21. In July, she will be turning 22, and to me, it seems like she is no closer to beginning her career goals, than she ever will me to meeting them. I just wish I would have had someone like myself thinking about retirement, and talking with me about it when I was her age.
Some of you are laughing, she is 21 years old? Why should she be worried about retirement when she has her whole life ahead of her? Well, because I was 21 once, and it doesn’t seem like that long ago. I have also seem many people starting out at 21 years old and “the world was their oyster,” pardon the cliché. However, bad things happen to good people, and some of them were out of work because of company buy-outs, office closures, people changing careers, or some people, like my mother ended up on disability long before she should have.
So what happens to these people? Some of them have company retirement plans that are rolled over into other plans. Some have company retirement plans that are transferred into deferred compensation plans for them when they reach retirement age. Some, like my mother, have state retirement plans, and those are required by disability to be absorbed in the beginning with heavy tax burdens, and it leaves her with nothing for later. Then some, well they had nothing to begin with.
Words like finance, investments, brokerage, retirement funds, etc.; these terms for better use of them, are scary to the regular person. When I first walked into human resources and Sherri asked me about retirement, I just said, “Uh, let me get back to you.” I immediately went home, called a friend whose husband worked for Edward Jones, told him I didn’t know what to do on my retirement. I faxed it over as he suggested, he called me back and said, “Brenda, just tell them yes, you want to have your retirement contribution withheld from your salary monthly.” Quite simple, and I felt quite ignorant. I’ve always heard ignorance can be cured though. I was in luck.
If you have ever felt as if you are on the losing side of the finance battle, you do not have to be. You can begin at any time, or at any age to invest in your future. The first step into tomorrow is to get in the routine of saving. I have taken two small steps myself, and have shared them with my daughter. Now, I will share them with you. Step 1) Checkbook Ghosting is easy to do, but you have to stay on top of your checkbook entries. This builds a savings in your checking account. This is what I use to buy Christmas with each year, and it keeps money from coming out of my household budget. Every time I make an entry in my check register, I round-up to the next $ amount. For instance, if I have $10.00 in my register, and I spend $1.25, I deduct $2.00, and leave a balance of $8.00. If I spend $2.00 the next day, I deduct $3.00 from the balance of $8.00, leaving a $5.00 balance. In actuality, I spent $3.25 on both days, and have $6.75 as my balance. With checkbook ghosting, I have spent $5.00, and have a $5.00 balance. I have saved a difference of $.75 the first day, and $1.00 the second day. Each expenditure you will save a few cents here, or a dollar there, and sometimes I will make two or three purchases a day. This can add up.
There is another way to save, this time with your savings account. This routine has been passed around many times, and I use it every year. It is called the “52 Week Money Challenge.” You start week 1 of the year by depositing $1.00 into a savings account. Each week you increase the deposit amount by another dollar, and by the 52nd week of the year, the second week in December, you will deposit $52.00 in your savings account. This will give you a savings account balance of $1,378.00. I always find myself a bit short around the holidays, so I actually run this challenge in reverse. I start the year by withholding the $52.00, so those latter months when I am baking and gifting, I am depositing less into the savings, and keeping more in my pocket.
There are other ways for getting a handle on living to retire, but I am having to take it one step at a time. This is a learning process for me as well as my daughter, and my mother. We are all beginners, and all at different ages. Give this “ghosting your checking” a try, and see what you can do on the “52 Week Challenge”. Let me know what you think.