Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Financial Regrets, Financial Hope

I don't think about money all the time. I certainly don't love money. Heck, I don't even like it. I know it doesn't like me. Every dime I've ever had has worked it's darnedest to get out of my hand and into someone else's as quickly as possible.

I have made more mistakes with money than I can begin to number. Pretty much, I've made them all. From the time I was a small boy, I have been foolish with money. I was 43 years old before I began to learn how to control it. And it took the better part of the next seven years to clean up the mistakes. I regret those years. I regret those financial travesties. I regret hurting people I care about with my financial foolishness.

But the biggest regret of all is the time. I can't believe that a man of reasonable intelligence and education, took so very long to learn basic money management. And there are consequences. One huge one is that because of my late start, I had no money set aside for retirement. I mean zero. Oh, I guess there was a little in Social Security somewhere, but by the time I retire I doubt there will be anything there. As a result, I am playing catch up. In order to try and have a little something down the road, I have to put more aside than the average person who starts early. Even then, I won't have anywhere near what I could have if I had started in my 20s putting away even paltry sums.

Start early, if you can. Set aside 10% of your wages in pre tax savings. If you start late, like I did, you will need to make it more like 15%. Plus, once you're over 50, the current tax laws allow "make up" payments. Just do it.

Having said all that, our financial future is not bleak. We have great hope. We are on a good path. We don't do debt, so we have a chance to do some serious catch up. Brittan and I have to catch ourselves every so often so that we don't slip back into old habits. We are determined to finish strong. And we will. Anyone can. It's all about changing behavior. Simple. Not easy, but simple.