Don't Wait To Solve Your Problems


Christopher Cole tweeted "The median baby boomer only has $152,000 saved for retirement (including home value), which earns interest at a paltry $2,000 a year. By 2040, 40% of the population will be retired." As I always say when numbers like this are cited, I can't vouch for the specific numbers but we know that Americans are woefully undersaved for retirement.

The Wall Street Journal recently had an article about an increasing number of people likely to transition into retirement as opposed to ceasing work one day. This makes sense on a couple of different levels. In our 60's we may not necessarily need to max out our income if we have decent savings already, even if it isn't quite enough (as opposed to no savings). A scenario where someone works part time or in a secondary career such that they make enough to pay the bills while allowing their account balance and their Social Security to keep growing seems like a positive lifestyle. The way I am framing this, they are making some money but have more ownership of their time. Owning my time (setting my schedule) is a huge one for me.

A Tweet from @bzhclair said that the way to prepare for retirement is not through money but through outside interests. I will say that while having some money will make it easier, having well cultivated interests creates optionality which I feel is key to success in all aspects of life. In the context of this post, a well cultivated interest is a potential income source.

This morning at fire training, I was trying to explain a concept and so I asked the group, what's one of your hobbies to try to come up with an analogy to make it easier to understand. It kind of put people on the spot until someone broke the silence very humorously when they said "firefighting." While many in the group are multi-faceted in their interests, I think this anecdote underscores the extent to which the group is collectively cultivating their interest.

Whatever your interests are, when you spend more time on them and try to learn more about them you are making your life more fulfilling of course but you are also making an investment, even if it is just time spent, in your future optionality. I am taking a fire-related class in February that I don't expect to ever need but it is optionality in case I ever do. Circling back to the post the other day about getting ratio'd where I was taken to task on a bunch of stuff including that classes cost money, this one is free. Free education is out there but you might need to invest the time to find it.

Circling back to Cole's tweet at the top of the post, we've looked at many ways to deal with being seriously undersaved including working longer, finding a post-retirement (or secondary) career, downsizing your house, moving to another country temporarily or permanently and there have been others. As Woody Allen once said, there is no situation where having more money made it worse. Not having enough money doesn't have to be a life-ruiner but it is a situation that requires innovative problem solving. Don't wait to start problem solving, start now. The sooner you start, the easier the problem will be to solve.