For every family that is successfully paying off debt and saving for the future, there are many families who simply are not making any headway. I have often wondered what it is that makes a family choose to be a financial mess. Were they never educated about financial matters? Are they unable or unwilling to tell themselves “no?” Do they ever want to be able to go on vacations, save for their future, and hopefully retire someday? Why don’t some people bother to put any money away? Don’t they want to spend their golden years living comfortably, allowing their nest egg to provide for them?
Sure, there are many reasons that some families just can’t get ahead. Things like health problems and unforseen accidents do occur and some people are unfortunate enough to be held back by them. However, most of the financially troubled people I know simply aren’t trying hard enough. They are spending all that they earn and sometimes more. They are making excuses and passing the buck to a later date. They are stressing out trying to find ways to make more money…..when really it is their spending that needs to be addressed.
The simple fact is that a lot of people are living in denial. They are making excuses and I have certainly heard a ton of them! Here are a few of my (least) favorites.
Excuse #1: I Will Start Saving Tomorrow
If you haven’t started saving for retirement yet, now is the time. You simply cannot afford to wait any longer, no matter how young you are. It is very easy to put off retirement saving until a future date when a) you get a better job, or b) you start making more money. The problem is that that day may never come. What if your expenses always rise with your income? Also, if your company matches a percentage of your contributions then you have been missing out on free money. Free money is truly a rarity, so you need to take advantage of it when you can.
Excuse #2: I Could Die Tomorrow
Sure, you could. That’s definitely true. However, you could also die 20, 30, 40, or 50 years from now. So what then? If you never start saving for retirement – or you don’t save enough – you could end up working well into your golden years - and perhaps until you die. Personally, I would rather save money for retirement. I’ll take the risk of dying early and never being able to enjoy it over the risk of having to work until I croak. It’s definitely better to be safe than sorry.
Try to find a balance between living your life for today and saving for tomorrow. You can definitely achieve both a fulfilling life and long-term security with some thoughtful budgeting and planning.
Excuse #3: I Will Live Off of Social Security
It’s a really bad idea to count on getting social security. Sure, we all hope it will be there when we reach the age to qualify….but it is totally unreasonable to base your entire retirement plan around it. Instead, create your own plan with the money you actually have. If you do end up getting social security, add it to the money that you have already saved for retirement. Then, you will be better off than you had planned.
Excuse #4: I Will Never Retire
This one always blows me away. It seems that some people have such little faith in themselves that saving for retirement isn’t even an option. They never think they will be able to earn and save enough to retire. It is sad, really.
The problem with this plan is that you never know what may happen. You could get sick and not be able to work any longer. If you have a physical job, it’s possible that someday you will no longer be able to perform your duties. Depending on your industry, it may not even exist 20-30 years from now. And….what if you lose your job and are unable to get another? The possibilities are endless. Planning on working forever is just a disaster waiting to happen. Why take that chance?
We all make our own choices and mistakes in life. Some mistakes are able to be remedied at a later date. However, not saving for retirement isn’t one of them. Once you reach an advanced age and realize that you have not saved enough, it is already way too late. You cannot go back in time and start contributing to your 401k or Roth IRA. You don’t get a “redo.” You will have to learn to live with the mistakes you’ve made. So, ask yourself, “Where do I want to be in 20, 30, or 40 years?” Then act accordingly.