I’ll admit I was stupid about money when I was young. I spent every cent I had and if I wanted something and there wasn’t any money in my pocket, there were these wonderful little squares of plastic to help with all my “needs.”
I would hear about how if you started saving money in your twenties, by the time you were in your fifties you’d have a nice little stash of money set aside and be on your way to a well-funded retirement.
“Forget that!” I’d yell (though, to paraphrase Ralphie in “A Christmas Story,” forget wasn’t the F word I used). “I’m young; I’ll never get old and there’s so much cool stuff out there I want!”
Funny thing. Like all young people, including those of today, I was stunned when I didn’t stay young. And I was even more stunned when one day I added up all my credit card debt and saw it was WAY more than my annual take home pay. I was 32 when I discovered this.
I’m in my fifties now, something I thought would never happen. I figured I’d hit my mid-thirties and somehow, someway, just stay there. Life thinks it’s funny, but sometimes it’s just mean.
We long ago solved the credit card debt problem, but that kind of debt is nothing compared to a mortgage. I mean, how long do you have to pay before you start seeing some progress? Seriously, how long?
And we have managed to put aside about four months of living expenses in something called a money market account, but since we didn’t start saving money in our twenties, we’re nowhere near heading for a comfortable retirement.
But, as it’s always been said, the more things change, the more they stay the same. I came across a story on the internet the other day and it said that millennials, those born after 1980 but before the turn of the century, spend much more on eating out than they do on savings.
I can relate to that. I’m pretty sure at one point, due to interest, we had paid about $400 for a meal at Ruby Tuesday that initially cost $18.75. Yes, if I could go back in time, I’d hit myself really hard.
There was an “expert” quote attached to this story that said if you buy a fancy cup of coffee every day, you could, instead, take that money, invest it, and by the time you turned 75, you’d have a million dollars.
I can only speak for myself, but if I get to 75, if I just have a comfortable place to sit, I’ll be happy. I don’t want a million dollars when I’m almost to the expected lifespan. I’d like to have it now. Would go a long way to solving several problems, mainly doctor bills from way too many years ago.
But let’s say you were smarter than me, or were willing to work harder, or just lucked into a rich family, and you have the fabled million dollars when you retire, where will you get the best bang for your buck?
If you’re dreaming of an exotic paradise, but still want to remain an American, you might not be happy with where your money will last the longest.
Something called GoBankingRates took a look and found that Mississippi would be your best bet if you had a million dollars when you retired. That money would last you nearly 26 years, basically taking you right to the end if you retired at 65. I know. Mississippi? Really?
But what about sparkling beaches and women that always seem young and beautiful (male retirement only)? Got some bad news, chief. Hawaii is the worst state for your million dollars. It won’t last 12 years. California is a little better, lasting about 15 and a half years. I’ve heard that Hawaii has a lot of homeless people. I think we might have found at least part of the reason why. A million dollars isn’t what it used to be.
And if you like Tennessee and plan to stay here, you wouldn’t be hurt too bad. If you kept spending about $41,000 a year, the least you’d need to live comfortably, your million dollars would last about 24 and a half years. You’d hit the finish line with a smile on your face.
Unfortunately, it’s too late for those who still read newspapers, so I’m pretty much preaching to the choir. But go out and tell the young people what you’ve learned. I’m sure they’ll listen. Just like we did.