As you’ve probably begun to notice, here at financialgeekery.com I’m big on questions. Today’s question: what will you wish you had saved for?
The wonderful thing about money is that it’s so very fluid; it can — quite efficiently — be turned into almost anything! But that’s not all; it’s also fluid in time. You can borrow money from the future to pay for the present, or you can save money in the present to pay for the future. (If you’ve figured out a way to move money to or from the past, let me know in the comments section.)
Of course, rare is the person who figures this out when it can most benefit them. When I was a “freshout”, having just graduated college and making more money than I could imagine (something south of $40K a year, if I recall correctly) at my engineering job, I didn’t really pay attention to my money. I had some vague notions about saving for retirement, but for the most part I just let my money go where it wanted to. Now that I’m older and actually have to watch my finances like a hawk, I wish I could go back and knock some sense into Young Me. “You idiot! Why are you spending money on all this junk you don’t care about? What about that house you’re going to buy in 2001, or the emergency fund for the kids you’re going to have in 2006?”
Sadly, we can’t do that, and there’s no use wringing out hands over the past. You can, however, ask the question: “in the future, what will I wish I had saved for?” Of course, we don’t necessarily know that — but someone else might. Specifically, your friends who are ten, twenty, or thirty years older than you. In fact, a couple years ago, Ramit Sethi asked them for you. The answers are not terribly surprising…and they’re worth considering. I’ll resist the urge to summarize here: go take a look yourself. Don’t just read the big speech bubbles — check out the graphs and see what might be in your future. Your future self will thank you!
While we’re sitting here chatting, tell me, for the benefit of the younger folks in the audience — now that you’re older and wiser, what do you wish you had saved for?
Do you feel up to doing a post on 529 plans sometime?
Done deal. Look for it on 11/15.