I know that most of my readers are under 40, but I think retirement, or our vision for retirement should really be in our minds from the onset of our careers. While retirement seems a bit away, we have to start thinking ahead and planning now. Our goals for retirement are also our goals for the here and now, we may have to give up what we want now to get what we want later.
I know some people wake up every day living for the paycheck, and others wake up every day living for retirement. From what I have encountered, the younger you are it is the first and the older you are, it’s the latter.
Planning for retirement
Mr. YT and I have not always agreed on this issue. I tend to be more of a rule-breaker. I always hated the idea of working somewhere for 30+ years and then retiring for maybe 30 years. Life experiences, such as watching young friends pass away at a young age, always made me think that it was better to enjoy things (especially travel) while young and relatively fit. Health and long life are not guaranteed.
Mr. YT, however, has always thought I had too much anxiety (#truth). Just kidding. He has always been a more content soul and is happy to work somewhere until his retirement years.
We’ve struck a balance in our marriage by agreeing on a minimum to save for retirement. We know that we are doing our best to put money back for our future, but we’re also trying to enjoy our youth (now that we’re both around 40, youth seems like a bygone word). More than planning for an age to stop working, we’ve stayed out of debt (other than a mortgage) and have been intentional about living below our means.
Almost a decade ago, I read Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek. While I wasn’t able to work remotely and travel all over the world, it spurred in me an uneasiness with the lifestyle we were living. Ferriss believes in taking mini-retirements, and although most 9-5ers may think that this isn’t possible, once you get 3-4 weeks of vacation time and take all of it at once, you are basically able to do a mini-retirement.
Another issue, especially as Christians, is whether we really believe that once we retire we have “earned” the right to take it easy for 20-30 years. I don’t think we are called to pursue idleness. Rest is obviously important in any season of life, but if we are in good health we can use our golden years to help with grandchildren, serve in the community, or even spend time abroad in ministry.
Overall, most Millennials aren’t going to work somewhere for 30 years and retire with a comfortable pension. Why?
1. Not many our age are committed enough to work somewhere that long.
2. I don’t know of any employer still offering a pension plan.
I won’t even get started on student loan debt. The idea of saving for retirement when straddled with 80k+ in student loans may be one reason why Forbes asked this question: Are Millennials the Lost Retirement Generation?
I recently devoured another book, Die with Zero by Ken Perkins, that had me rethinking our goals and dreams in light of retirement. Mr. Perkins makes some solid points surrounding the issues of health. He explains how most people have diminishing health from age 40 onward, which especially accelerates after 60. This makes the notion that “I’ll travel when I retire” even more preposterous! You’ll be lucky to have good knees!
There is a time to do climb mountains and visit remote villages, and it is probably before we need to be within a short distance of first-world healthcare. In other words, we’re presuming a lot when we let time pass without doing the things we want.
Where did the concept of retirement even come from?
I never realized this:
Retirement has always been used as a way for people in authority to induce behaviors in others for their own purposes. Augustus Caesar, for instance, gave his former soldiers big pensions to prevent them from becoming disgruntled and overthrowing the government.
And Chancellor Otto von Bismark threw a wet blanket on socialist radicals in Germany by offering payouts to the elderly.
The common denominator in these and other examples is that retirement was a way of buying people off and getting them out of the picture. I think the modern idea of retirement, stemming directly from the industrialized workplace, is the same. (Source)
What are your thoughts on retirement? Are you happy to trade 30-40 years of your life in hopes that when you are 65 you’ll be healthy enough to do the things you love? Do you give up saving money for retirement in order to enjoy your life more now? Or do you really like what you do and you’ll stay there until they kick you out?
More Reading: Retirement is Overrated.