In the last 12 months, my husband and I both turned 35 years old. Although I hadn't put my finger on it until now, I think there is something about that age that made us want to reassess our current financial strategy. But the truth is, gratefully, that I think we are on the right track. We are debt-free aside from a small mortgage, we save a large percentage of our income, and we invest everything we can in our long-term savings account, our college savings accounts, my SEP IRA, and our Roth IRAs.
But, what are we actually saving for? Sometimes I wonder.
My family recently lost a beloved family member that died far too young. Due to her battle with cancer, she never got to experience her own retirement. She will never know what it feels like to have her working years behind her. She'll never see her golden years, hold her grandchildren, or watch them grow up.
Sometimes when I'm making my monthly transfer into our retirement accounts, I wonder if I will ever see that money again. I wonder if, like my family member, I will die young and miss out on some of the best years of my life.
And other times, whether it's logical or not, I worry that we're headed toward a total economic meltdown and wonder if my money will even be worth anything 20 or 30 years from now. I blame that on the fact that I watch a little too much “Doomsday Preppers.”
Plan or not, continue saving
I am sure that everyone who saves has shared the same concerns. Will I ever benefit from the fruits of my labor? Is my money safe? Am I doing the right thing?
The problem is, most of us won't know until it is too late to make any changes. And as we are well aware, retiring is much easier the earlier you start. Remember that, when it comes to investing, time and compound interest are your best friends.
But even if you put retirement aside, there are plenty of other reasons to continue to save. Here are mine:
Because I don't want to be a burden to my children. My children are three and five, and I brought them into this world because I wanted someone to love — someone to cherish. I didn't bring them into this world so they could take care of me financially in my old age. Saving helps me prepare for the future; it helps me ensure that I will never have to rely on anyone but myself.
Because I want to see the world. My husband and I love to travel and would love nothing more than to semi-retire on a tropical beach somewhere. Saving, both in and out of retirement accounts, puts us closer to that goal.
Because I want to reach financial independence. “Retirement” is such a loaded word; what I really want is financial independence. Simply put, I want my investments to earn enough to pay my daily expenses so I never have to work again. We are far from that goal, but every dollar we save puts us that much closer.
Because I want to help others. Earning more and becoming debt-free has put us in the fortunate position of being a help to others. Saving for the future makes it even easier for us to be charitable. After all, the more money we have saved, the more we can spare.
America Saves Week is February 23-28th and, as a result, Get Rich Slowly plans to share plenty of content related to saving money in the coming weeks. Obviously, we don't believe you need an event to help you remember to save. Saving is something we do all year long.
Still, sometimes saving becomes easier if you consciously link your money-saving strategies to a goal. And that goal could be anything — a wedding, college, an annual vacation, or even retirement. When it comes to my goals, I know I'm saving to create a better life for my future self and for my family. And I suppose that is the only reason I really need.
Do you need a reason to save? What are you saving for?
Author: Holly Johnson
Holly Johnson is a credit card expert, award-winning writer, and mother of two who is obsessed with frugality, budgeting, and travel. In addition to serving as contributing editor for The Simple Dollar and writing for publications such as Bankrate, U.S. News and World Report Travel, and Travel Pulse, Johnson owns Club Thrifty and is the co-author of Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love.