Saving for Retirement: Don’t Make Excuses

 

Saving for Retirement: Don't Make ExcusesFor 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 timeYou 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.

 

 

About Holly

Holly Johnson is a wife, mother of two, and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She is the co-founder of Club Thrifty and a staff writer at Get Rich Slowly, Frugal Travel Guy, and U.S. News and World Report's "My Money Blog." Holly has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger Personal Finance, Fox Business, and Daily Finance.

Comments

  1. Almost everyone I know who is my age group all think that it’s either too early to be saving for retirement or that they would rather spend it on experiences.
    I personally feel you can do both, but in moderation.

  2. Here is my excuse: I will have created enough passive income to fund my retirement years.

    I am not overly optimistic on my outlook of actually doing that, so I also save for retirement. The hope is that I actually do create enough passive income (websites, rental properties, investments, etc.) and that my retirement savings will just be there for a cushion.

    • I am hoping to have enough passive income as well through our rental properties and other endeavors. However, like you, we also save for retirement. Hopefully one or both of these strategies will pan out for us!

  3. My (least) favorite is “I would’ve saved if _______ didn’t happen” Any unforeseen expense is an excuse not to save. It gets even better when the unforeseen expenses is a vacation, or a swanky new car.

  4. Good post Holly! I’ve heard ( I am sure many of us have heard most of them) most if not all of these excuses. I think it generally comes down to a number of things, but really does tend to come down to denial. One of my favorite excuses I hear is that I don’t have enough to save for retirement. Ok, that’s fine (as long as it’s not due to spending too much) but you can still save something. Many forget that a key to retirement investing is time. So, if you can only afford $50 or $100 per month, that’s great…start with that. Time will work wonders with that as the years go on and will establish that discipline to save more as they can afford more.

    • That is exactly right. I think the main problem is overspending…..if people would address that first then they would find that they have a lot more money than they thought! That is what happened to us.

  5. Yikes! #3 is a particularly scary excuse. I highly doubt there will be social security when I retire, and I definitely do not think it will be enough to live off of! Also “never” retiring is just not a valid excuse -> an emergency could happen that would force you to stop working, and if you haven’t saved, you are sitting in a tough spot.

    • While you and I may never see social security (I think we will, since no politician will ever get rid of it since they all want to be re-elected), people who say this probably will get a benefit. They will probably end up means testing social security and people who didn’t save will get the bulk of the benefit. Is it fair? No, but life isn’t fair. Saving and assuming you won’t get Social Security is probably the best idea and then if you get some, you can just use it to pay to gas up your car or pay for a plane ticket to some far off land!

    • Yes, I hope to get social security….but at this point I am definitely not counting on it!

  6. I’ll start saving tomorrow>>> check out an online calculator and see how many hundreds of thousand that just cost you.

  7. Excuse #5 – I’ll have alimony… Seriously, I’ve heard it.

  8. I am a natural saver, so that comes easy for me. It is important to me to have a balanced life, so although I save more than half my income I travel quite a bit. I always look for the best deals, so I could travel on a budget.

  9. My dad says #4 all the time, and I don’t have the heart to tell him (most of the time) that he’s very likely to become unable to work! My parents do save for retirement – they are getting close! – but probably not enough.

  10. My favorite from young folks nowadays:

    #YouOnlyLiveOnce!

    :)

    • YOLO!

      Ha,ha. That is a good one. Really, I can somewhat relate to the stupid phrase. Yes, you only live once….maybe….as far as we can tell. However, being financially secure means getting to do more amazing things. If I am going to “only live once,” I certainly do not want to spend that time broke!

  11. Brian Porter says:

    It is also easy to say, “well, I have to save for my kids’ college, etc.” – its best to put the money away for a later day. I am still in the projected dates to receive social security – still in the “guaranteed range of ages”, but my wife isn’t… We have 401K and are lucky enough to work at a place that still offers a pension… But these days, you can’t just rely on one source of income for retirement – we are looking at :

    1) 401K
    2) Savings
    3) Pensions
    4) Social Security
    4) Passive income
    5) Potentially part-time employment by one or both of us

    Our company used to match up to 3% on a 6% investment in the 401K… that may have changed to 2% on 4% – I need to check that out…

    You forgot our Excuse #5 – One of our 6 kids will support us and increase our chances of winning the lottery :)

    • I wouldn’t count on that pension if I were you. You can read in the news daily about companies who are choosing not to meet their pension obligations or who have underfunded somehow.

  12. I’m not sure if I’m saving enough–I sock as much as I can into my Roth 403 (b). If I made more money, I’d put in the maximum and put money into my Roth IRA. But I figure if I die tomorrow, at least there’s money to go to my niece and nephew and assorted charities. If I don’t, I’ve got something behind me. I’ve gotta try!

  13. But I put my life savings into lottery tickets. That’s my retirement plan! ;)

    But srsly, for me, I just don’t see retirement as my be-all-end-all goal in life. If anything, financial independence is a better motivator, because heck, maybe I’ll be doing something I love and happen to make money from it well into my 70’s, I don’t know. But I do agree with your post, that there are too many excuses for folks who don’t save and then hit age 65 and just expect to up and quit and never lift a finger again. It doesn’t work that way.

    For us, I opened a Roth IRA when i turned 18 and funded that for a few years, and right now I’m putting a little away in my 401k. I hope to fund both a little more next year, but I am definitely planning on saving as much tax sheltered money as I can so that when the time comes, I can do what I want (which still may be choosing to work, but being financially independent will allow me to make that choice).

  14. It really is never too early to start saving, that is so true. One of my regrets is that when I got my first “real” job back in my early 20’s, that I didn’t start a 401K immeadiately. I waited a couple of years and missed out.

  15. All horrible excuses! People do often spend as if they could die tomorrow… but most of the time they live well into their debt and declare bankruptcy. Great post.

  16. It is horrifying, isn’t it? I call it complete denial. All of my friends snicker at the idea of delaying new iPads in order to save a penny or begin stashing away small sums for retirement. People must believe they will never age and/or are invincible?

  17. K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks! says:

    I keep thinking that if my pension/OAS is not available to me by the time I retire then I’m screwed so that thought motivates me to continue to save for a self-funded retirement. If the government pensions kick in well that’ll be the gravy on my potatoes.

  18. I think there are two different groups of people that struggle with money: (1) the people you refer to in the post who make excuses as to why they can’t save and live well beyond there means, and (2) there is a totally different population that simply can’t get ahead because of where they’re born/raised.

    I’ve coached plenty of people that simply spend to much and struggle with money because of their own doing, but I’ve also met those that are willing to work hard but may not be able to find a decent job because of their education. We can get into an entirely different conversation about whether it’s that latter person’s fault for not being educated (or attempting to further educate themselves), but that would take awhile. :)

  19. If you look at the people who don’t save, and I’m talking about peolple with jobs, not people who don’t work and liven on government assistance, most of them have nicer phones than me and drive newer cars. It’s a matter of choice. No you can’t keep having all the latest things, eat out every night, and get fancy rims for your car if you want to retire someday. You can save for retirement and save for things you want,but we are such a society of instant gratification, it’s scary. This is going to be long so I apologize, but I have to tell the story of the lady who needed cataract surgery and had no insurance. She was in he mid 50’s. Had no savings. She was “too poor” to have insurance and couldn’t afford surgery. I tried to help her apply for a foundation grant, and they needed information about all of her income, which was terribly low. She did work at a hotel. Her husband was older and on social security, and they had medical bills for him. The thing that got her denied was that they had gone out and bought a brand new $25000 truck not year before that with an almost $500 a month payment. She was a nice lady, but why the hell do people do stuff like that?

  20. “Were they never educated about financial matters?” Survey says….no. Most people grew up in a house with parents who had a pension (no real need to save because someone did it for them) and who had little to no money in the bank. Those people procreate more than wealthy people (statistically). We’re being overrun by people who have no clue.

    Sadly, that group doesn’t read financial blogs either.

    Your husband’s grinch traits are rubbing off on me.

  21. These were the excuses my wife made when we talked about retirement. I have both a 401k and a Roth IRA and my wife had nothing. She used a couple of these, but I finally was able to convince her to open a 401k with her work. Thank goodness she has.

  22. Man I would never use any of those excuses. I’m saving very little, and I mean very little, but it is a little. Every month I push just a little bit harder to make that happen…of course earn more money too!

  23. #4 is an interesting one…

    A lot of the wealthiest people I know say that one but I don’t hear it from many poorer people.

    I think there is something to the type of language we use to describe the situation we are in financially and if we constantly use the excuses you listed it becomes a reality!

  24. There are some people who believe retirement just happens. I have friends who think social security will be gone in 30-40 years when it our time to retire. However, they aren’t saving. I’m pretty scared for a lot of those who are in their late 20’s early 30’s.

  25. I couldn’t be happier that I’ve made the decision to put my retirement savings first. I literally sleep better these days as cliched as that sounds. Retiring in about 8 years and couldn’t be happier with the decision.

    • It does make life simpler to plan ahead doesnt it….and I would be sleeping GREAT if my 3 year old would quit waking me up screaming! Arrrggghhh!

  26. These excuses are all terrible! I plan to start saving for retirement at age 25, and until them I’m focusing on becoming debt free. I can’t imagine just not putting anything away for the future.

  27. Great article! When I was in my early 20’s, I read that if you really want to be wealthy, you should put 15% into your 401k out of every paycheck. This advice has served us well since we started so early.

  28. nice post, holly..

    it is sad that most folks dont make saving for retirement a bigger priority.. when exactly are you planning to start doing this, folks? this isn’t like saving for your kids’ college.. there are no banks that will give you a loan for retirement, because they know you wont be around to pay it back..

  29. Hi Holly, you are correct. There should be no excuses in saving for retirement. It may sound morbid but we can all die anytime. So, we have to begin saving so we can still see our retirement day and enjoy what we have saved.

  30. Being 23, I am interested in saving for retirement, but I’m not even sure how to get started in it, working for a company with no sort of retirement plan, and frankly, not making nearly what I’m qualified to make. Anyone have any suggestions? I know I have to start, and I have to start small, but HOW?

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