This article can be encouraging for those younger than him and its rather frustrating for me. I am older than 37, and now, having learned some of these lessons rather later than him, am not going to retire soon. I am lucky. I earn a good salary, and started saving in earnest in my mid 30s. I have caught the wave of most of the current bull market. But I struggle between the demands of living and saving. I think most people do, and well this struggle is what my blog is about.
I suggest that those of us who have made other choices, but then want to try to catch up, try to be thankful that we are where we are. I am glad I spent the time and money that I did living a personal dream of mine to live in NYC in my 20s, but it was not a cheap lifestyle. Looking back, I do wish I saved more, and spent a bit less. That savings would be literally paying dividends today, and probably would have moved my FI date up more than a few months.
The question for people in my boat is all about balance. Boat being a great metaphor, and if you recall that great scene in the first Highlander movie, then you have the visual in mind that I am talking about. The question is always about spending versus saving. Do you live or not? Do you buy things or memories or save for things and memories in the future?
The goal for me is really about financial independence, with a strong desire to keep working for a long time, but taking the stress away from it. As it stands for me today, if I never saved another dollar, and keep working into my 60s, then I should be ok. We are not talking about a gold plated retirement, but I should be able to live modestly. Between now and then, all I have to do is pay my bills. I have done that by saving what I had been putting into paying down my debts, and then saving a portion of pay raises. It has not been easy, and I have been fortunate. We spend at least one vacation a year at my parents, but again I am lucky, they have a nice home down South only 30 minutes from warm beaches. That helps us save money.
I cut my own grass, something that few of my neighbors do. It’s not fun, but it is a break from the computer, and it doesn’t take too much time. I also have my own snowblower; something still quite necessary in most of the North. My neighbors mostly pay someone to do it. Still, in spite of the costs to maintain either tool, doing it myself pays for itself in a single year. Our generator is one of those roll out gasoline ones, instead of one of the more expensive natural gas standby ones. Sure the latter is better, and less of a hassle, but it’s not hard to change the oil and buy a few gasoline cans. We were without power for 8 days during hurricane Sandy, and that generator was crucial. Our home is well/septic, so without power we have no water or heat. This past winter, with several strong storms, we were without power for a total of 8 days over 4 storms.
My suggestion is to not feel bad if you got to a late start like I did, and to key trying to find that balance. Save money where you can. Maybe try to find a side job to make a few bucks that you can put all to saving, and then work from there. I would add to keep reading blogs like this and all the others out there to help remind you that we are all in this together. Most people are not the amazing story like this fortunate person, but are just making their way and doing what they can. We all worry about it. We all wish we did more, and well we are a community.