The other day, I took a stroll down memory lane while sifting through some boxes filled with old yearbooks and photos. I came across a photo of myself that was accompanied by one of those "Where Do You See Yourself in 10 Years?" questionnaires from high school. According to this artifact of a document, 18-year-old Deslyn dreamed of one day making $10 an hour.
It's interesting to me that this memory surfaced at the same time TopGolf is rolling out its 401(k) retirement savings program for Associates. At 18, a $10-an-hour job seemed like a fantasy, and the notion of retirement felt even more far-fetched.
I took comfort in knowing I had decades to worry about building my nest egg, though I fully intended to start saving...
½as soon as I had a little extra money
½as soon as I paid off my credit card
½as soon as I got that next raise
½as soon as the holidays were over½
That's the funny thing about "as soon as" thinking. There's always another "as soon as" in waiting. I had so many well-meaning intentions to save in my 20s, but before I knew it, several years had flown by. All those "free" T-shirts I received from signing up for credit cards had actually wound up costing me a small fortune in debt. (Don't even ask me why I thought a polyester/cotton blend T-shirt with a MasterCard logo was so cool!)
What did you dream of at 18? What do you dream of today? What did you dream of when you first joined your current company? How many times have you promised yourself you would start saving? Or start saving more? More importantly, just how long have you been telling yourself that?
When I finally put an end to the "as soon as" thinking and put my money where my mouth was, so to speak, my life changed for the better. A flat tire was no longer a financial crisis that resulted in ramen-noodle eating for a week. I traveled to 10 countries. I became secure in my future and my ability to one day help provide for my family. Ultimately, it wasn't the promotions and raises I received that helped me feel like I'd "made it." Saving, dollar by dollar, paycheck by paycheck, had made me feel rich. It was such a simple, obvious concept that had been available to me all along.
A study last year indicated that half of Americans are not saving at all for retirement, yet experts say you need 8-11 times your final working salary if you plan to retire at age 65 and maintain the same standard of living. You can't say "as soon as" until age 60 and suddenly expect to be able to save hundreds of thousands of dollars. Instead, leverage the power of compound interest right now, whether you're "young," "seasoned" or somewhere in between, and your savings will multiply before your eyes.
I encourage you not to repeat my youthful mistakes and instead pay yourself forward by putting money away for the Future You. Don't wait! That lifestyle you dream of one day having is only as far away as you make it. If you want to keep your options open, you must first open a savings account.