If you’re saddled with piles of student debt, credit card bills, or a stagnant income, retirement’s an almost impossible concept to understand, let alone plan for. But even if you’re young, it’s super important that you understand retirement and start structuring your life to build for it.
But just so you understand, the retirement I’m talking about is not the one you see in ads from fancy Wall Street banks. You know the ones, with the healthy looking man standing on the deck, watching the sun set over the water, beachfront vista, giving a knowing nod to his well-preserved wife. That idea of retirement was built for baby boomers.
It’s based around nine-to-five jobs with companies that offered upward mobility, low-cost healthcare, inexpensive education, and a pension, and retirement at 65. Unfortunately, the world has changed, work has changed, costs have changed, demographics have changed, and most importantly, the risks have changed.
You can no longer rely on social security or a company pension to figure this all out. It’s now up to you. So, now what? Well, the secret lies in the way that you think about money and your day-to-day habits. Even if you’re living in a cramped apartment with roommates and earning subsistence wages, there’s still things that you can do to start preparing for a healthy financial life and a fruitful retirement, whatever they may look like.
Another big thing to consider is the rate of change over the past 40 years. You have to assume that in your working life you’ll also see significant changes. Be prepared to have a few different careers or maybe a side hustle or your own business. Flexible work is great for bosses and the bottom-line of companies, but terrible for individuals when you don’t have income coming in regularly.
Know that the only constant is change and that there are no future facts, but one day, whether you like it or not, you will be older and you will most likely still need money to live. Your job now is to help the future you prepare.
I’m not saying it’s not a challenge, it is! But know that there is a path to retirement and the earlier you start, the better. It may be a tough concept to wrap your head around, but retirement can be a terrific reward for all the hard work you do today.