With all the Charlie Sheen hype these days, I did an internet search on his dad, Martin Sheen. In doing so I ran across the bio of his older brother, Emilio Estevez. Emilio was one of the 1980’s rat pack and starred in films like St. Elmo’s Fire and The Breakfast Club. One of his quotes on his biography gave me the idea for this blog. He said, “I swore to myself that I’d make it through drive, ambition and hard work. I wanted to know I got it that way and not because of my bloodlines. And I think there is no question why I got where I am today. I’m pretty content. I have a motto: expect nothing and be pleasantly surprised.”
It seems like he starts of strong – “make it through drive, ambition and hard work.” But he ends with “expect nothing and be pleasantly surprised.” I’ve always heard it is easier to realize a dream or a goal by focusing on exactly what you want to accomplish or achieve.
I sure hope Emilio nor anyone else takes that expect nothing attitude where their retirement is concerned. I expect comfort and peace of mind in retirement. That is why I diligently squirrel away money into my 401K and now a savings account as well. I fear that if I expect nothing then that is exactly what I’ll have at retirement – NOTHING.
Instead we should take his other approach to life and “make it through drive, ambition and hard work.” Nothing in life worth having comes to us without hard work (with the exception of the gift of salvation). But salvation is for life after this life here on earth. It takes money to survive here on this earth. Hard work and consistently saving will provide for the comforts of food, clothing and shelter in retirement.
How much do we need to enjoy those comforts? It varies from person to person. But a good financial advisor can help each of us answer that question (and more). He or she can help us find the money leaks in our budgets to allow us to save more and spend less. A good advisor can also help us think about what we want life in retirement to look like. That discovery really leads to the answers about how much we need to save.
The rule of thumb I’ve always heard is 10% savings from your paycheck is a good place to start. But after the mortgage is paid and the kid(s) are through college, it is probably wise to bump that percentage up a great deal. After all, you probably make more later in life and with the kids gone you don’t really need as much to live comfortably as did when you were younger. That means it should be relatively painless to bump up the savings as time goes by. Another way to bump up savings pain free is to forgo your raises and divert them immediately to savings each year.
Just some thoughts. Do you have any other pain free ideas for saving more and spending less? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.