Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Time to Get Real

One of the things about being a compulsive reader is that when I pick up the mail at work I always scan quickly through any papers or magazines. Today my Executive Director got a copy of a paper, Business Edge, and I found a full page ad in it for a Real Estate Income Gain program with the headline: They've discovered the key to aging gracefully. Money.

Okay, then. I guess I won't be aging gracefully because I realized today, more than ever, that I. Don't. Have. Enough. Money. Put. Away.

Coincidentally, today The Simple Dollar featured a reader's mailbag post that inspired the following comment from me:

Hmm. What about if you figure out what you really want from life in the next 15 years (i.e. retirement time), add up how much you need, subtract what you already have put away, divide it to end up with a monthly amount to set aside and discover that this amount is larger than your entire family take home pay for the month?

Admittedly we aren't saving enough right now (about 3% of our gross when we're allowed by the Canadian government to save 18% for retirement plus $2,500 for educational purposes plus $5,000 annually in a tax free savings account, let's say a total of 30% of gross) but even if we saved half our money we still wouldn't be in the ball park (and we'd still have to pay taxes on that other 20%).

That's a little depressing, even leaving aside how unrealistic it would be to go from saving 3% to 30% or 50% overnight. What would you do?

So, let's be clear. I cannot turn around and start saving a lot more money than we're saving right now. For one thing, if I were to do so (or, conversely to somehow increase our income significantly) the money we pay for tuition would go up until we reached the point where we were paying at scale.

So, does that mean I just throw up my hands and give up? Accept that we'll be at the mercy of Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Pension, plus my $100/month annuity and abandon all hope of buying land, etc.? Should we just quit now and move to the country, taking our DC out of school and homeschooling her? Do we just abandon the rest of our family (the adult kids and the grandkids)?

No. I just can't accept that. There has to be another answer. I have to find a way to save at least some more money on a regular basis. I have to make some money getting rid of the things that are stacked beside the front door, waiting for a new home. I have to find a way to pay off our debt and get back into balance so we're not spending more than we make. And I have to find a way to take baby steps continually towards my goals without having great piles of cash.

I don't think there's a quick and easy answer for this, but I'd welcome suggestions that don't violate my religious beliefs.

In the meantime, I'm going to concentrate on the advice in one of Trent's posts from yesterday and make a list of 10 goals to achieve over the next several years and start setting microgoals towards them. I figure if I just keep actively moving in the direction of my goals I have to achieve more than I'm doing currently, even if I'm taking teeny tiny baby steps!

No comments: