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Taking life and money one day at a time

Here, There & Everywhere by Lindsey Kuglin

I once read an article in some random magazine that said, at the age of 18, one should have already started saving for their retirement – “nothing big”, the article said, “$20 a week, and then whatever you can afford on top of that.” As a supplement to my RRSP I was supposed to take out once I found a full-time job, they promised I would be comfy as can be come age 65.

Well if that didn’t send me into panic attacks. I was already 21, was about to start paying off my exorbitant student loan, was planning my wedding, had no job, and was already three years behind in starting my RRSP.

Seven years later I’m still paying off student debt and I still don’t have a plan for my retirement, and honestly, I don’t really care that much anymore.

The thing is, is that there’s always something to save up for – cars break and die, houses need maintaining, the world needs exploring, and let’s face it, eating ain’t cheap.

Some would say that I am being financially irresponsible for not squirrelling away what I can for my golden years, such as katrillionaire Kevin O’Leary and his theory of “dead money”. He writes in his new book The Cold Hard Truth About Men, Women and Money that money “stupidly” spent on coffee, magazines, cigarettes and occasional lunches out, averages to about $18,000 over a decade. “I hope the loss is haunting you. It should be,” he writes.

He seems to forget that brown-bagging it costs money too, so I don’t consider that entirely valid. And since I don’t smoke or buy magazines, my so-called “dead money” would be mostly spent on coffee, which sometimes is my only comfort in this cruel world full of alarm clocks. No matter how small my nestegg turns out to be, I will never regret buying a cup of coffee.

But it turns out Richy over there sitting on top of his money mountain judging us lowly folk for having lunch once a week, might be a little zealous.

Malcolm Hamilton, an actuary in Toronto, said in a CBC article this week that people in their late-30s/early 40s still have lots of time to contribute to their RRSPs. “You can move mountains in 20 years of focused savings,” he said.

I like that guy. His approach gives me more comfort than the shame-on-you approach or the you’re-way-behind approach.

Even if one dime doesn’t get saved in my account for retirement though, I’m not going to get worked up about it. It’s not like having loads of cash – or worrying about not having loads of cash – will lengthen my life at all. My financial plan is to take life one day at a time, and to not worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will bring its own worries.

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