Are you having trouble saving for retirement ? If so, here’s a story that might help.
I received a few wonderful comments the other day from “K,” a hard-working Pilgrim. She also had a few questions. She’s interested in saving money for retirement, but she and her husband are already super frugal. Here’s K:
We’re pretty frugal. No cable, old cars (without payments), clothes from thrift stores, etc. Any extra money goes towards kid stuff like homeschooling materials, piano lessons, and such (yes, I know these are extras). It’s tight because I’m home with the kids, which is worth it, but I would love suggestions for retirement planning. I do work part time in the evenings when my husband is home.
So here’s a family that deserves lots of credit. K and her husband are really focused on the things that matter – their kids. And they’re not strapping on the ole feed bag at fancy doo dad restaurants either. The “extras” that K mentions don’t seem extravagant. And after K packs in a full day at home teaching those little Pilgrims about the world, she goes out and works a shift. Both K and her husband seem to be on the same page. That’s what I call true grit. K…you have just become an honorary Pilgrim. Wear your badge with pride!
On to spending. It’s worth every penny to give the kids the proper learning materials. And while I’d prefer the kids got guitar and drum lessons, I can also live with the piano. So what advice does Mr. Pilgrim have for K and spouse?
As always, plenty. First, you’ve identified your priority, which is homeschooling your children. I support that. This comes at an economic price, but it sounds like you and your husband are OK with that, so let’s move on.
As I suggested in my post on saving money for retirement, spending isn’t always the issue, and it certainly sounds like spending isn’t the problem in your household. It’s about acceptance, balance and income.
You and your husband made an adult decision – the kids’ education is more important than current financial advancement. That’s OK. You made a tradeoff that you seem willing to live with: you gave up some financial security in the short term in order to have more control over your kids’ education.
Accept that you’ve made this choice. It just means that you may have to work longer and not have the kind of retirement you dreamed of.
Right now, you’re not saving money…so what? There are plenty of cases where I advise clients to live like that. Sometimes I even give them the Pilgrim blessing to have a personal deficit. Just know that right now, you’re not achieving all your financial goals. But you must have a financial plan to balance this out.
Perhaps you won’t homeschool the kids all the way through high school. Maybe you can plan on having the kids homeschooled for fewer years. That will allow you to become a full-time employee or start being self-employed in a relatively short period of time. When it comes to balance, remember to enjoy. (Read about how to have a great Christmas and spend only $100 on the holiday.)
It already sounds like you and your husband are working pretty hard. But are you earning to your potential? Can your husband get a better day job? Can he study something at night in order to advance or find a better job? Consider private career colleges to speed up the process.
Look into buying an existing business that he (or you) works on after the kids have gone to sleep. Yes, that means going into debt over the short run, but it might be worth it.
It sounds like you are both working for wages, and I’m not a fan of this strategy. Having your own business isn’t the only way to go, but it is the best way to have more control over your financial future. Are you willing to go out of your comfort zone in order to build a better financial future? Starting a side business is likely your very best bet right now. And you can look for balance.
You can compromise on the homeschooling. You can accept a longer working career. And you can seek out other ways to earn a few shekels on the side.
What other advice would you give K?