The Biggest Financial Crisis of Our Collective Future: The Story of The Ignorant Frog
There was a frog who during a long and arduous journey stumbled upon a deep well. The well had abundant amounts of food and water that could last years.
So the frog did just that, he lived in the well for years, blissfully ignorant to his depleting resources and even more ignorant to how unsustainable his new life was.
Years passed and the inevitable happened: the well dried up and the frog found himself in a predicament. No more food, no more water, it was time to move to a new home.
There was just one problem: for the first time since arriving the frog realized how deep the well actually was.
The harsh reality set in that there was no way out and he was far too deep for anyone to hear his cries for help. All of those years of plentiful living now turned to despair.
Many of us are like this frog, living for comfort now with little thought of the future. The numbers back this up; More than one in five people don’t save any of their annual income. 80% of individuals only have $50,000 or less saved for retirement. Americans in their 60s only have a median retirement savings of $172,000. Experts agree that these numbers are woefully short of what people should really be saving for a comfortable retirement.
In simple terms, many of us are not planning for our impending retirement. Why is this? I believe it is because being ignorant to our financial situation is much easier than properly saving for retirement. People are stuck in the needs and wants of today and put a veil of ignorance over their retirement needs.
Financial ignorance is why as a collective society we are so bad at saving for retirement. It is time to break the status quo and rid ourselves of our own worst ignorance. But how?
If you currently feel that you are at the bottom of a dried up well, there is hope. You can resolve right now to make some changes in your life so that retirement day is joyful rather than dreaded. Here are three changes that you can make now while time is still on your side:
- Change 1: Ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes said that “the secret to having more is needing less.” In order to save enough for retirement it will require a tenacious sacrifice and focus. Make a plan and stick to it. Redefine what is a want and what is a need and don’t deviate. Contribute the most money possible to your retirement accounts and don’t change it.
- Change 2: Do not become a prisoner of the moment. Sometimes in the monotony of our daily routines, retirement can feel so distant and intangible that we do not think about it much. We do this to our detriment. Do not be like the frog who irrationally drained his resources without thinking. Maybe we don’t need to buy a BMW to impress people we don’t really care about. Maybe we do not need to live in a 6,000 sq. foot home and become house poor. If you can afford these things and still save an ample amount for the future, great. However, you should become fixated to the idea that decisions now will determine how free you are in retirement.
- Change 3: And most importantly in my opinion, you can not lift another unless you are standing on higher ground. In retirement do you want to be a blessing or a burden to those around you? If you have saved abundantly you can give back abundantly. Think about what you could do from helping your family, donating to a worthy cause, or being financially free enough to give of your time in the service of others. If we collectively strive to be millionaires in the future we can truly be a force for good.
Many might say that they are already living paycheck to paycheck and investing in retirement is just too expensive. I say if you think that is expensive, you have not considered the cost of your own ignorance.