Follow good advice not excuses

Retirement Advice v. Retirement Excuses

early retirement, financial independence, FIRE, investing, personal finance, retirement

Mr. and Mrs. Winning Williams are known to get a little fired up about 1) people’s lethargic response about saving for retirement, and 2) media’s attitude to appeal to the masses. So when you add these two items in a single article, you bet a response is warranted. It also makes us wonder, when did the people of America lose our tenacity? When did we lose the desire to continue to learn, contribute to society, and take responsibility for our own lives?  

Here’s is a link to the article featured on The Atlantic ( we almost don’t even want to reference, but you must know what riled us up the other day). After a first read our initial thought was “this has to be a satire right?” , but it wasn’t. SMH. The article has several key sections: Actual Research, A Foray into Exotic Excuses Land where There are No Banks and The Government is Good at Everything, especially Money. Outline and obvious criticisms are below:

 

Actual Research

The article starts out with a research study that highlighted personality segmentation and how this related to individuals savings habits. This we can understand. If your parents had bad spending habits, then you likely learned some of those. If you are a goal oriented person then a savings challenge would probably incentivize you better than a doomsday warning about savings. Got it. Makes sense.

 

Into Excuses Land

Then the writer of the article goes on to explain that telling people to save more is unlikely to do anything since personality traits are basically fixed. Also the article mentions that blame should be placed by the nation’s savings institutions and not each of us individually. Say what?! Did they just wrap this unqualified advice in a thin layer of research- YUP!

Facepalm

You can absolutely change your savings and spending habits. It will take some effort, maybe a little work, but it can be done. If you don’t want to have to work until the day you die, then learning how to save and invest is a skill that you will need to cultivate so that you can retire. It seems that every day there is a new article infantilizing the newest generation of adults providing reasons why they “just can’t save”.

The mindset espoused in the Atlantic article that started our blood boiling is what we see as the issue. This article is essentially saying that you’re not responsible for your own savings- sorry to be the bad cop here, but you are. America was built by a group of individuals with hard work, dedication, and a focus on the future. These founders did not have savings institutions to rely upon. Their success hinged on their own personal and tangible accomplishments. Moving forward to today if you want to be successful, emulate those around you who gained success. Whether it was through education, ingenuity, networking, or just old fashioned hard-work, success was likely found not through the reliance on others or expecting someone else to take over their responsibility. If you want to retire, then you need to save.

 

There are no banks apparently

Further into this quality article the author goes on to say that even if you have access to an IRA or 401K, it is difficult to save given bills or relatives who need financial help. No it is not difficult, your priorities are out-of-line. If you have a family member that needs financial help and that is your priority, then I guess daily lattes, expensive cable and happy hours are going to be taking a break for a while. (After reading through the comments the same issues popped up. “People just don’t make enough to save money to retire”- seriously? Let’s check in on all the couples that are happily retired or well on their way to it because they set goals and priorities. Go Curry Cracker, Mr. Money Mustache, Budgets are Sexy, etc. etc. )

But then the article gets better saying that only half of workers have access to such plans so for those half of the population, savings is even more difficult. Say what?! I’m not going to question what percentage of the population have access to a traditional workplace 401K plan. But all because your company does not offer a 401K DOES NOT MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT TO SAVE. The possibilities are substantial:

1) Traditional IRA

2) Roth IRA

3) back door Roth IRA (if high level of income)

4) SEPs (Simplified Employee Pensions)

5) SIMPLE IRAs…

Google is your friend to check for individual eligibility.

 

Also there are no resources for anyone to learn anything new… ever

Perhaps you are living paycheck to paycheck, or your family members instilled a distrust in financial services. Maybe you saw your parents lose their retirement funds in the recent recession (well only if they sold during the recession, but that is for another post). OK that explains some fear of investing. But you can still open a FREE checking and savings account. You can open up an online savings account that provides a significantly higher interest rate than a standard savings account. Then once you feel comfortable test out some investments with that earned interest. That way you can try these options. There are amazing options to learn how to invest and manage your money wisely these days (ex. Learnvest , JL Collins and Master Money Class)

 

The government is the best at everything they do, especially when it comes to money

After having read through this article and the excuse-advice provided there was another recommendation. A “universal savings account, modeled on Social Security. If all workers were automatically enrolled in a savings account that couldn’t be tapped into until retirement (or disability, if that came first), they wouldn’t be burdened with investment decisions. The various proposals for such an account assume a similar structure: The government would let workers contribute to it directly from their paychecks, and it would be managed for them by an independent, government-appointed committee, much like the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation or the board that oversees Social Security.”

Say what?! Oh my.

“Burdened with investment decisions” – it’s called being an adult. Know what money you have coming in, know what is going out, look to maintain a balance in your portfolio. It is not rocket science.

If we are automatically enrolled and forced to contribute?  Hello, this is Social Security and well… it does exist already. Or do we select how much to contribute? Hello, this is currently available to all consumers through the various retirement based accounts listed above. Or worst case, fund after-tax dollars into your brokerage account.

When American’s are already failing to save for retirement and depending on current government programs, the last thing I can imagine helping would be further reliance on an additional government backed system. The Winning Williams are already counting on not having Social Security as a safety net because of multiple issues and reports of the service going down before we reach retirement age. Maybe it has been mentioned before that sometimes our government does not have the most efficient operations… (doesn’t matter what party you belong to, the system is slow) meaning money would be lost in transaction fees and bureaucracy. Also, each person has a different risk tolerance. Forcing someone into an investment that they have no control over is borderline totalitarian.  America, let’s get back to work (ah crap now I sound like a politician)!!!

 

You tell ‘em teacher!

The worst part was that this was written by an Economics professor. When Mrs. Winning Williams was in college- studying Economics- she was never told by her professors that she would need to find excuse after excuse to not save for retirement. She had professors telling her to count on Social Security being gone and that it was her sole responsibility to save. How many students are now being told that they can rely on these excuses? Guess what- you can’t pay for food with these excuses, you can’t pay for anything with them.

So much facepalm in one article

 

Be smarter than the people handing you excuses

Basically, if you come across any online article that says “no, it’s totally normal to not save or have anything planned for retirement,” realize that they are duping you. The article is pandering to your insecurity about investing and trying to get as many likes and social shares as possible. You are smarter than that and you should be able to roll your eyes at these kinds of articles thinking about how much you are making and how hard your money is working for you. Focus on spending your time reading books and articles that will inform, empower and inspire you!

 

Winning Williams way to success

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