This column by yours truly appeared in the April 18, 2007 edition of the Greenhorn Valley View:
What would you do if you didn’t have to work to provide for your needs? Imagine for a moment that you have a bottomless bank account, that just magically has money in it that you can use to pay your expenses. Now you’re free from having to have a job to pay the bills. What would you do?
Would you continue to work, just to have something to do? Would you do volunteer work with your favorite charity? Would you travel ’round the world to see the sights?
Where would you live? Colorado City? Waikiki? Costa Rica? How about hobbies? Would you learn to play a musical instrument? Learn a new language? Write the next best-seller? Paint the next Mona Lisa? Take up golf?
Make a list of your answers to these questions. Draw a picture of yourself doing whatever you would do if you weren’t required to work. Imagine yourself speaking French while painting a picture of yourself playing guitar for underprivileged children in Rwanda. (Your image may vary.) Now tape that list and picture to your refrigerator.
Congratulations! You’re half way there! You’ve just discovered your motivation for saving for retirement! You can provide that bottomless bank account for yourself. With a few bucks a month, and your new-found motivation, you’ll be living your dream sooner than you know it.
People in their 20’s and 30’s have a hard time getting motivated to save because retirement is a distant uncertainty. People in their 50’s and 60’s have a hard time getting motivated to save because retirement is nipping at their heels. But if you take time periodically to imagine how your life would be if you didn’t have to work, saving might not seem like such a futile activity.
Personally, my goals are less about retirement and more about leaving an inheritance for my children and grandchildren. I imagine my grandchildren spending their time in philanthropic endeavors, possibly directing large, multi-national charity organizations, without having to worry about how to put bread on their tables. Obviously, I have to spend copious amounts of time now and in my retirement years educating my children and grandchildren in the principles of making and managing money. And the chunk of change required to fund this vision provides me the motivation to keep saving.
But every person is different. Each person’s motivation is unique. Spending some time thinking about your future can be a very healthy exercise. I think you should do it often.
Six straight weeks of writing this column! I’m on a roll!