I think everyone has in their mind’s eye what they imagine retirement to be. It can be traveling the world, it can be a beach house and leaving the world behind. It can mean spoiling the grand children rotten, or it can mean self-indulgence and treating yourself like the kid you always wanted to be. Whatever your retirement dream is…the reality is that it feels as if it is becoming harder and harder to chase the dream. Like the donkey’s proverbial carrot, it appears to be just be a little bit further down the road.
Speaking of donkeys…the Grand Canyon is Eric’s dream. It has been a long-standing, long-lasting fantasy trip that he floats away to at times. I can see him as he push mows the yard with that far away look in his eyes. He is somewhere in between being excited to take the train through the canyons, and wondering if Ansley’s skinny body can stay on a donkey should we decide to be totally insane and take a “tour” on the back of donkeys. Let me assure you that although I share in his fantasy, I do not share in his delusions.
My 40 something body will not be riding a donkey, ever.
So, as I mentioned earlier there’s this shift going on in our lives. Strange areas of focus that ten years ago would never have even entered my mind. At 35 I was just thinking about having another child, and at 38 she arrived. Wow, did that ever mix things up!!! Now ten years later I can’t imagine not having an “Ansley” in our lives.
But with that cloud of pixie dust and nail polish came ballet and acting classes…another college to figure out and I have no doubt a set of braces for the princess. (Insert bless her heart here). Just adding one tiny, yet incredibly wonderful variable, changed everything. The ripple effect.
Now there’s double this, that and the other. We started late, so we have to be aggressive. We do a 15 year mortgage instead or 30, we have our life insurance in place, our wills written, we have a plan for everything except when we can STOP.
So, here we are with a dream of one day soon being able to get off the hamster wheel and according to the calculator below…I may need to invest in some WD40 to grease the wheel for a few more years. In my age group there’s a lot of determining factors. I’m a Gen X’er if you’re wondering. All I can attest to is my own life which includes two working adults and the costs of raising two children and even eking out a vacation once a year makes it difficult to wrap my brain around saving for retirement.
- 41% of GenXers have saved less than $100,000 for retirement;.
- 15% made early withdrawals from their 401(k) plans;
- 23% stopped contributing to their retirement accounts, and
- 22% stopped contributing to college savings plans.
That goes without taking into account anything at all breaking down. Ever. It is so very daunting, and I thought absolutely impossible. However, once we really sat down and talked about it, we saw that it would require both of us being on board and committed to it. Impossible is a word we often use to avoid doing something difficult and painful.
To the timid and hesitating everything is impossible because it seems so. – Sir Walter Scott
We are horrible at sticking to things like diets and exercise. We fail miserably at not stacking things on the stairs because we are too lazy to carry them up. We say we are going to cut back on things like red meat, beer, and chocolate…but we just smirk at each other at night from across the room because he has a chocolate craving and doesn’t want to admit it….and I’ve hidden snicker’s bars and don’t want to give them up…lol!
We are… in the irrelevant… total losers.
But we decided that the only way to actually be able to DO the things we talked about doing…being debt free by 50 or…60, paying the house off, being able to stick with what we have because it is wonderful. Our little house in our little town that we love. Two cars totally paid for, even though I hate his cracked windshield, dollar sucking car, he is right, it’s better than a car payment. (Shh…he doesn’t read my blogs so please no one tell my husband that I actually broadcast that to the world!) But in this case, he is right and I will drive my mini-van till the doors fall off!
We are committed to saving whatever we can NOW, and sadly we are already behind. I encourage all of you to use the calculator I put on here. Play around with how big your dreams are and how realistic achieving them will be. It will either put a fire in your belly to get started now, or it won’t. But for me, I have decided that I do not want to work for all of my life. I want to laugh a little more, live a little more, see a whole lot more with my family till the children are gone, and then me and my sweet husband will ride off into the sunset together…but I can promise you this, it won’t be on the back of a donkey! ~ Kimberly