Almost every survey and statistic says Americans don’t save enough. Economic experts and financial behaviorists can provide any number of explanations for this shortcoming, from higher prices to an unwillingness to delay gratification. But really, saving is a matter of habit, not a result of circumstances. And habits, both good and bad, have cumulative effects. The difference between a lifetime of saving and a lifetime of not saving? It might look a little like this:
I can’t save right now. I’m just getting started with life. I don’t make a lot yet, and I’m entitled to a little fun while I’m young. There is plenty of time. When I start earning a little more, I’ll save.
I’m saving a little bit right now. I’m just getting started in life. I don’t make a lot yet, but even though I feel like I’m entitled to a little fun when I’m young, I know saving today gives me more time to build a secure future.
I can’t save now. We have two kids and just bought a house. Being a parent and a homeowner has been way more expensive than I thought. But when these “new” expenses subside and I get my next raise, I’ll start saving.
I’ve been able to increase my saving to almost 10% of my income. Having kids and a house does cost a lot of money. But because we were able to make a sizable down payment, the monthly bills have been manageable.
I can’t save now. My two kids will be starting college in the next couple of years. Do you know how much that costs? We’re probably going to have to borrow to cover tuition. And I have a few medical issues that insurance isn’t covering. This is the most expensive period in my life. I can’t save a penny.
I’m really socking it away right now – about 25% of my take-home pay. The two kids want to attend college, and I think we will be able to pay for it without borrowing – that’s a relief for me, and it will give them a great financial head start.
I can’t save now. I know I should. But things aren’t breaking my way. I’m worried about getting down-sized out of a job, and it’s not easy for a person my age to start a new career. I’ll just have to hope I can hang on where I am.
I’m glad I’ve maintained the saving habit, even after we got comfortable. Because of my savings, I was able to take a pay cut to pursue a consulting position in a field I love; the money’s okay and the flexibility is great.
I can’t save now. I had to stop working because of health issues, and we’re living with my son and his wife – that’s a strain on his finances, too. The Social Security check doesn’t go very far. I wish I had started saving 20 years ago, but it’s too late now; you can’t save when there is no income.
Even though I’ve stopped working, I still save. Some of our required minimum distributions are going to an account for our grandchildren’s education (although they may not need it, because both our kids have the saving habit). And one way or another, our savings will leave a nice legacy to our heirs. I’m so glad I started saving 50 years ago.
A classic pearl of motivational wisdom says: Your habits become your character. Your character becomes your destiny.
If you have the saving habit, you know your financial destiny has promise. If you have children, be sure they acquire the same habit; the sooner they start, the better their future.
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