Retirement for many people seems like a distant thing that they’re not remotely concerned with at the moment. After all, it’s decades away: anything can happen between now and then! As such, a lot of younger adults put off saving in lieu of spending on fun things now. This isn’t a great way to look at it, though.
If you’re looking at retirement money as saving for a different version of you (“that’s a Future Me problem”) then you’re looking at it all wrong. You shouldn’t be saving for retirement: you should be saving for yourself.
What do I mean by “saving for yourself?” That’s easy: you’re looking at your retirement the wrong way. You’re going to still be you in 30, 40 or even 50 years. You’re not going to magically transmute into some unusual old mutant version of yourself.
You’re just going to be you with a few more decades of experiences. If you’re looking at retirement savings as a waste of money or as taking away from your “fun years,” you need to stop that now. It’s time to change your perspective.
Aging is scary, sure. You’re afraid of the ways your body is going to slow down and betray you. You’re afraid of the ways your mind will change as the years add up. However, the sooner you start saving money the easier those years of your life are going to be. Having money put back to handle medical bills is only part of it, though.
You’re still going to want to go on vacations and buy fun stuff when you’re in your 70’s. It’s not like you’ll turn into a stuffy old fart just because you’re older. If you’re fun and adventurous now, why would that change over a few short decades?
Maybe you think 30 or 40 years is a longer time than it actually is. This is fair since it’s double your current age or more. However, this is the wrong way to look at time. That time will pass before you know it. The sooner you start saving for it, the better. Most forms of retirement saving will begin accruing interest right away. Being on the right side of that snowball is important.
Think about your student debts or other debts that accrue interest. They’re snowballing the wrong way, right? Every month, the amount you owe gets a little bigger. Why not put that to work for you, in the opposite direction? No one wants to keep losing money, but everyone wants to keep gaining money. So, the sooner you start saving for yourself and your future, the better!
If you take any advice away from this, let it be this: you’re not supposed to be saving for “retirement.” Retirement is something old people (IE, people who aren’t you) do. By thinking of it as simply “retirement” you’re distancing it from yourself and taking away its urgency. Instead, save for yourself and your future comfort.
After all, wouldn’t you rather spend your 70’s laying on a beach in the Caribbean than living in a tiny apartment because its all you can afford?