Retirement planning is not something you can fix later

Retirement planning

“People have got to learn: if they don’t have cookies in the cookie jar, they can’t eat cookies.” – Suze Orman

My grandmother was the third of nine children. While her parents provided all the basic necessities (most of all love), at the end of the day I’m not sure there was anything left in the cookie jar for retirement planning.

My great-grandfather was a furniture refinisher in Jersey City, New Jersey and my great-grandmother was a homemaker who took in sewing work to help the family financially.

Today, whenever I look at my retirement planning with skepticism for the future, I often think about my great-grandparents who probably only planned ahead a few months not a few decades when they’d no longer be working.

While each new generation has become more financially responsible than the one before, there’s no denying society’s insatiable appetite for instant gratification.

It’s that insatiable appetite, combined with an inner need to impress our friends, neighbors and colleagues, which causes us to forget that there’s not an endless batch of cookies in the jar.

Suze Orman says, “We tend to focus on assets and forget about debts. Financial security requires facing up to the big picture: assets minus debts.”

But focusing on our debt is an unpopular concept in society today. Credit cards, personal loans and mortgages have given us a false sense of equity – allowing us to afford things that aren’t in the best interest of our long-term retirement planning or any planning for that matter.

It only takes one questionable financial decision before, “Thoughtful financial planning can easily take a backseat to daily life.” – Suze Orman

My great-grandparents didn’t have much financially.

But what they did have was love of family, gratitude and a sense of pride in their ability to work hard and make sacrifices in order to obtain what they needed for their family.

Yes, having bigger and better “things” is exciting right here, right now. But planning for your future should not be relegated to the backseat. Remember, time is your ally for retirement planning, but as life continually teaches us time is not infinite.