Kathleen shared her Mint-generated timelines for some of her personal finance goals. One of them is retirement. I don’t know much about personal finance, but I do know the importance of saving for retirement (the earlier the better). But I nearly fell out of my chair when she said that according to Mint’s stats, she either needs to contribute more than her annual salary to meet her goal – or work until she’s 91.
I haven’t really paid much attention to my retirement savings (not that there’s much to pay attention to currently!). When I filled out my new hire paperwork in September, I filled out a sheet for my 401(k). I read about the minimum and maximum contributions, employer matching, profit sharing, investments, etc. I briefly consulted a calculator, reread the guidelines again, and then decided how much of my salary I wanted to be taken out of my pre-tax salary and put into my 401(k).
And then I promptly forgot all about it.
Well, perhaps not “forgot.” My pay stubs showed how much was getting taken out of every paycheck and contributed to my 401(k). That was a pretty constant reminder of my retirement savings. But otherwise, that was pretty much it. I mean… it’s not like you can do anything with a 401(k) plan besides check to see how it’s doing. Even then, I would be bored to tears monitoring it obsessively.
I know I’m doing everything right by starting to save early because time is money and the value of compound interest over time can’t be beat and all that. But the thought of needing millions and working till my nineties terrifies me. (Yes, I know these are extreme examples. That knowledge does little to comfort me.) I really, really don’t want to be working until I die. Is that what the options are, though? To throw everything into my retirement savings in an attempt to retire comfortably at a comfortable age (65?) and deprive myself of enjoyment now, or chip in a small percentage of my salary and enjoy life and hope that by the time I retire, someone will have gifted me the millions of dollars I didn’t manage to save?