A Quiet Fortune column: Five “Gets” to Get Out of the Club
One year ago I told you this: 75 million adults, as many workers as live in 17 states the size of Colorado, have less than $1 saved for retirement. And that’s just the people who have saved nothing. More than half of us who have made some financial plans are still not on track with what we will realistically need later on.
No wonder Social Security is severely threatened. If more than 75 million adults can’t be responsible for most of their needs when they retire, how can the government do it for us?
Times might be tough today, but I refuse to believe that it’s impossible to save anything for tomorrow. I know without a doubt that almost every one of us can do the opposite: We can think differently, we can start small, we can begin to feel some power. Within a few years we will know that the strides we have made toward financial security are only the beginning.
So what should we do? Here are five things we need to get:
1. Get The Brainwave of Save
If status symbols mean too much to you, it’s time to dump the idea that you always need to look perfect, have the newest device, go on exotic vacations, drive new cars, live in a dazzling house and on and on. This search for “the best” will never end if we think we need and deserve all the stuff that advertisers drum into our subconscious minds. Stand up to those bullies. Decide that having a little less today is absolutely fine. Begin to embrace the “simpler is better” idea and you’ll find you have a lot more money to save than you thought you did. We Americans don’t actually need closets the size of entire rooms.
2. Get Interested in Investing
The stock market has been rising for 10 years. Are you invested in it? In a recent informal poll conducted by a major morning news program, almost all of the people interviewed said they were thrilled that the market is going up. Almost no one was invested in it, but they hope the benefits will somehow trickle down to them.
I urge you to let America’s businesses work for you. Start reading articles you run across. Consult with a financial adviser. Decide that you’ll soon know far more than you do today. I challenge you to become an investor.
Of course, things will go belly-up again in the future, but the market has always risen again to even greater heights. If you know this you will understand that “he who stays in the market will praise the market.”
3. Get Shocked
Do yourself a favor today and figure out what you will realistically need when you quit working. Experts have said that we should have accumulated between 7 and 12 times our annual incomes in order to retire with a sense of security. Figure it out for yourself, using your income today. If your reaction is “Ouch!” you will need to step up your investing. Can’t do it on your salary? Read on …
4. Get More Income
That old expression “think outside the box” can work for most of us if we need to make more money. How?
We can start by analyzing what we can do well that others need. We get an extra job. We start a small business. We look for ways to generate extra income online. We write, garden, walk dogs, cater, tutor, translate, trim trees.
You could produce extra income if you can convert part of your home into an additional dwelling unit or save for a down payment, then buy an apartment or house to rent. It’s hard work and takes research and professional advice, but it might make a huge difference. Your renter will actually be paying the mortgage and you’ll likely have an investment that continues to rise in value.
5. Get Smart
Visit a library or a bookstore’s finance section. Get a couple of books that directly address your level of knowledge and interests. Don’t depend solely on short articles or website blogs … a book by a knowledgeable expert can explain and inspire and get you on the right track quickly. The more you know, the faster you can get out of that problematic club of 75 million.
Terrie Drake is the author of the book “A Quiet Fortune” and a retired teacher and librarian. She and her husband have lived in Glenwood Springs since 1974. She is not a financial adviser; consult a competent professional for your personal financial solutions. She can be reached at email@example.com.