Paying it Forward – The Principle for a Successful Marriage and Retirement!

The following is a link to an article and video regarding over one-third of Americans who haven’t saved a penny for retirement (click on the image below to read the article and watch the video).

Yahoo! Finance

As noted in the video, one of the biggest reasons people aren’t saving for retirement is the failure to make it a priority in their lives and the ole “I’ll just work forever” attitude is not a sane strategy since we cannot control our destiny.

It is frustrating to see people of all ages and income levels not plan for retirement and then complain about how unprepared they are as they begin facing it. Fortunately it is quite refreshing to hear success stories of those who’ve planned for and are on their way to a financially secure and meaningful retirement.

I was reminded of this last week when I went to lunch with a friend of mine from college, whose husband is a fraternity brother. They are in their early fifties, employed, debt-free, have put three kids through private grade school, high school and college, take several nice trips a year, have their first grandchild on the way next month and both plan to retire at age 60.

FamilyDid they grow up as trust babies with silver spoons in their mouths? NO! They came from middle class families and got married while in college. They both worked their way through school and within a year or so of graduating (with no debt or student loans), they had their first child and bought a house. Even though money was tight, at times they only had $20 a week for groceries, they made it a principle of their marriage to save for the future, but to also make sure they first gave to church and charity. This principle is unwavering and a foundation of their long-lasting marriage. 

When I asked Linda for examples of what she and Jeff did to put themselves into the financially comfortable spot they are today, the following is what she shared:

“We paid cash for our cars, which may have been new, but they were practical and we drove them until the wheels fell off.”

“Jeff took his lunch to work, and I stayed homed until our youngest was in kindergarten and worked part-time until our oldest was a junior in high school.”

“We were frugal and I shopped at Marshalls, TJ Maxx and Gordmans. Whether it be food or clothes, we weren’t high end and took advantage of sales and clipped coupons.”

“For vacations, we mainly took car trips, packed lunches, camped out, etc. Our youngest was 10 years old before she flew on a plane.”

“Jeff's parents were great role models. They were great savers and generously gifted us money over the years that we applied to the kids’ high school educations. We paid off our house before the kids started college, while setting money aside so as to provide each of them with a decent used car and a college education. We plan to pay it forward and open college funds for each of the grandkids.”

“We didn’t drive luxury cars, live in a large house, go on extravagant vacations, wear designer clothes, or eat out a lot, but we had all that we needed and could afford. All along the way we put as much money as we could afford toward our retirement through IRAs and our 401(k)s, which we’ve never touched.”

“We have no regrets and would do it all over again.  Also, it is great to see our kids carry on some of these positive traits.”

I find it encouraging to see a couple like Jeff and Linda, who started their marriage and family living paycheck to paycheck, but never living beyond their means. Even as they became more successful in their careers, they never wavered in saving for their and their kids’ futures, while paying it forward through their charitable giving.

Instead of spending freely and making excuses for not saving for retirement, their frugality and budget mindedness actually empowered them to achieve the financial and personal success they’re experiencing today. In addition, it is nice to hear Linda say, “no matter how good or bad we had it, we always made sure we put God first in our giving.”

In today’s world there are conflicts taking place domestically and internationally, and oftentimes we’re told by other’s what we can’t do. However, it is great to hear a true story of a couple who didn’t get caught up in the negative news of the day, themselves or what they couldn’t do, but made the absolute best of what they could do for themselves and others.

None of the actions that led to their success are complicated, but they were disciplined, forward-looking, and giving all along the way. Their life’s itinerary may not read like that of a luxury cruise, but it has been far more fun and rewarding for all involved.

On the lighter side

“Dogs have no money. Isn’t that amazing? They’re broke their entire lives. But they get through. You know why dogs have no money? .. No Pockets.”

                  Jerry Seinfeld              

“If you think nobody cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple of car payments.”

                 Earl Wilson

Tony Moeller, CPA

The information listed in this commentary is a compilation of various publicly available sources and is for informational purposes only. It is not a recommendation or solicitation of any particular investment or strategy. A risk of loss is involved with investments in the stock and bond markets.

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