Paying myself back — or forward?

I started off the year kind of gangbusters with blogging, but soon fell off the wagon, as you know. But I didn’t want that last depressing post to be up here on top anymore. I keep praying for my family and friends and am counting on God and the medical system to take it from there.

I haven’t been blogging, but I have been thinking. The usual “What do I want to be when I grow up?” thoughts, only now “when I grow up” pretty much means “when I retire” — which who knows if I’ll ever really be able to. I just saw a commercial for an investment company (don’t have a clue which one), that asks people to write on a wall what they would do if they could do anything. The thing I noticed during the 30 seconds I was engaged was that so many people wrote down creative things. They’d make pies or be a florist or be a writer (! — I’m guessing not the kind of writer I am). So many people are just itching to do something that has nothing to do with traditional office/trade/factory work. The commercial basically said “Yes, you can get paid to do that — you pay yourself to do it with your retirement money.”

That’s a great way to think about it. All those years of working and paying bills (and yes, saving, because that’s a must) are so you can be in charge of your own destiny. Pay yourself to have the freedom to do what you really want. Because otherwise, you might still decide to be a florist, but are you going to work for someone else? Start your own shop? That’s still a business, and a competitive one I imagine. It’s hard work, even though your products are beautiful (and highly perishable). Same with pie baking — or any kind of food/catering business — not easy either. And a writer? Please. We all know how hard that is — and even harder to make any money at it.

So the bottom line, you need to be financially free to pursue your dreams, but that seems so unlikely. I read some sobering statistics yesterday about women and retirement in this article…I don’t think anyone envisions him/herself destitute or in a nursing home, but the sobering reality is that many of us will end up there. There’s also a slew of articles that say, don’t even think about retiring…that even after you reach retirement age, you should still plan to work at least part time.

It’s hard to think about that — that at almost no point in your life (unless you can’t physically or mentally do it anymore), you’ll have to be “on call,” responsible for doing something someone else thinks is worthy of paying you for.

It’s also hard to balance the idea of delayed gratification and saving more for tomorrow with wanting some rewards for hard work today — especially because tomorrow isn’t guaranteed for anyone and none of us is getting any younger. (If not now, when?)

I stress about money and saving all the time. I’m convinced we aren’t doing enough. It drives Mike crazy.

I also say just about every day that I want a vacation (the beach comes up a lot). That also drives Mike crazy.

How do you do it? How do you approach the live-today-(while-you-can)-or-save-for-tomorrow conundrum?

Sometimes it’s important to work for that pot of gold.
But other times it’s essential to take time off
and to make sure 
that your most important decision in the day
simply consists 
of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow.
~ Douglas Pagels


  1. mel said,

    Friday, April 4, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Retirement is a tricky subject. I saw that ad, too, I think? Or am I thinking of the one where they all take ribbons and see how much $ they think they’ll need for retirement, and all of them have too-short ribbons? What I am wondering, however, is whether the people who were thinking about investing for the future were anticipating how much they need to save in order to continue living the same way they live now, or how much they really need to just live. Totally different amounts. We here in our home are pretty counter-culture, embracing debt-free living (almost there–still a dumb mortgage), taking advantage of the plentiful second-hand goods around us, eating mostly what’s in season, driving old used cars, etc. And I’ve watched the stock market fluctuate often enough that I’m not comfortable banking on that for the future, not really… We still have some $ in it, but we have re-thought how much more we want in there. So, I guess our approach is a balance: saving some for emergencies and rainy days (need a lot more in there!), investing some in hopes that the market survives, counting on no social security whatsoever by the time we reach whatever age they’ve changed it to by then, and believing that we will get by with common sense, a community, skills, and (most of all) the good Lord’s help. I’m still working on remembering that and believing it all the time. Several layoffs have helped us realize that jobs come and go; the fact that we’ve gotten through each time with tenacity, help, and growing faith tells me that we’re on the right track. But it’s tough–retirement looks so different now from the way it used to look… People live longer, don’t have extended family setups like they used to, and the government has done so much that personal planning and charitable acts have dropped, IMHO. Wow, I had too much to say! Sorry!

    • WritingbyEar said,

      Friday, April 4, 2014 at 4:24 pm

      Appreciate your thoughts, Mel! It’s great that both of you are on the same page as far as lifestyle, saving, etc. That’s a tough thing to come to agreement on if it’s doesn’t occur naturally. M & I are mostly in sync, but have some areas of disconnect. Compromise is tough.

  2. pambelieves said,

    Friday, June 20, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    Well Chris, knowing my situation — I live life to the fullest everyday. I don’t think about being in a nursing home — I guess I don’t see myself making it far! But you never know. Yes, we’ve stopped ourselves from buying that home in the country, or that summer home along in the Finger Lakes — it’s sobering to me that I would think of even doing it in the first place. We’ve saved a lot during the years. It’s probably not nearly enough. I think it’s about balance.

    Yes, you have to plan and then ignore your financial planner. Haha. That’s just me. Watching the money makes me crazy, so I don’t do it. That’s Tom’s job.

    I believe you have to live life or else, what’s really point of it all? I trust God completely in all things — believing he’s leading us through this life. And I believe that no matter our time on earth, he will provide.

    Retirement — I love the thought. What would I do if I could do anything? I’d be the next Oprah, a talk show host, that gives endless gifts to deserving people. Now there’s something attainable, right? LOL.

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