7 Reasons You Hate the Word “Retirement”

Filed in Saving, Uncategorized by on October 12, 2013 6 Comments

Hold your ears!What happens when you hear the word “retirement”? Are you like a kid who covers their ears– “la-la-la-la-I-can’t-heeeaarrr-yooouuuu” hoping to drown out the conversation?

Well, I’m not going to slam you for shutting down when you hear the word “retirement,” because I do it, too.

But we can’t run anymore, my friends.

In fact, I’ve been thinking about retirement a lot lately. I’m forcing myself into that “uncomfortable” territory because I’ve had a disturbing thought lately:

Who’s going to take care of me when I’m old?

Before I tell you why I have been thinking about this lately, I wanted to point out first the reasons why I think we hate hearing about retirement:

Reason #1: Dude, You’ve Got Daycare and College to Worry About!

It’s reallllly hard to think about what’s going to happen in 2043 at age 65 when you’re struggling to get through the week until payday. Daycare is right now. Your kid’s college tuition is right now. Your medical bills are right now. Oh, and don’t forget your credit card bills. They ain’t goin’ nowhere, either. I’ve known several families who have even foregone retirement savings altogether because they couldn’t afford to contribute to the plan and pay for daycare. Even if they’re intentions were to start up again once the child(ren) starts school, they’ve missed thousands in savings opportunities, which can be significant.


Reason #2: You’re Not a Fortune Teller!

Maybe if you were, you’d be able to pull out your crystal ball and accurately predict:

  • If you’ll croak early….or will end up in the Guinness Book of World Records for Longest Living Person Ever
  • Whether Social Security will exist…or you’ll be on your own
  • If you’ll own your home….or be living in a shelter or nursing home (or cardboard box)
  • If you’ll be healthy and mobile…or laid up in a bed, barely able to move
  • If your kids or family will help you…or if they’ll kick your old butt to the curb

We can plan all we want. But we never really know what our circumstances will be. Thinking about retirement forces us to confront how much we really don’t know about our futures. And that’s scary.


Reasons #3: You Think the S&P 500 is a Car Race!

Um. No, it’s not. That’s the Indy 500, not the S&P 500. You see….? You hate hearing about retirement because it totally confuses you. You know nothing about it. High schools don’t require financial literacy, and if you didn’t major in Finance in college, odds are, you didn’t take a finance class. Yes, there’s plenty of information on the web to find out what is the S&P 500, along with how to get started with saving for retirement, along with a plethora of retirement calculators. But sometimes we’re you’re intimidated by something, you’re more likely to avoid learning about it–no matter how much free information is out there.


Reason #4: Uncle Sam Loves You!

Well, maybe not. This CNN article says that: 

“The government’s official position is that there is enough money saved to pay benefits at the currently scheduled amounts until 2041...benefits will likely be reduced after that.”

But…..I’ll be turning 65 in 2043!! Oh, no! Chances are, you’re going to be retiring around that age, too. We’re fooling ourselves if we think Social Security will be enough, let alone available!


Reason #5: It’s Impossible to Save THAT Much Money!

Even if you don’t know exactly how much you need, you know you need a whole helluva lot of money for retirement. People are living 20 years past retirement (or having to keep working after “retirement:). The fact is, even $1 million may not be enough. Just knowing this makes you want to hide your head and not deal with it. After all, the numbers look so gigantic! It’s hard to imagine being able to save up that much money. So you cover your ears and say, “La-la-la-la-la-la.”


Reason #6: You’ve Got Time!

When retirement seems so far away, it’s easy to kick it aside for something you’ll think about later. After all, compounded by Reason #1, yeah–retirement takes the back seat. You’ll worry about it when you’re in your 50’s or 60’s, right? Wrong.


Reason #7: Your Kids “Got Your Back”!

Maybe if you live in China, where this past summer they enacted a law requiring adult children to take care of their aging parents (or face going to jail! No kidding!!). And even some states in the U.S. there are laws that require children to support emotionally and financially needy relatives. For the most part, however, this is strictly a voluntary, loving action by your children. So if you’re raising greedy, selfish brats, be forewarned–they may not be around to help you. Also, it’s hard for children (no matter how old they are) seeing their parent’s declining. Sometimes it’s easier for them to stay away than to have to see you “like that.”


The Reason We Really Should Care about Retirement

So we all know the obvious reasons why paying attention to retirement should really matter: the more money you have, the more options you’ll have. You’ll get to travel. You’ll get to pursue passions that maybe you didn’t have the time or money to do when you were working. Etc. Etc.
But for me, in addition to the obvious, there’s a not-so-obvious reason I have decided not to cover my ears when I hear the word “retirement”: because I don’t want to burden my children.

Yes, an argument could be made for why your kids “owe” you. After all, you sacrificed for them for 18+ years; it’s the least they can do to sacrifice for you, their aging parent.

But do we really want to disrupt our children’s lives?

The last thing I want is to burden my children with being my caregiver because I didn’t take care of myself and my financial responsibilities when I had the chance.


What a Caregiver Endures

My mom, at the age of 58, should be enjoying her grandchildren and pursuing her own passions now that her own children are grown and independent. Instead, several months ago she offered to quit her job in order to be a full-time caretaker for my grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s disease and hardly a penny to her name–just a Social Security check. Now, my mother is slowly becoming a shell of a woman who I used to call “Mom.”

Often, she’s apologetically short-tempered and irritable, and rightly so. It’s taking it’s toll on her. It’s not easy being a primary caregiver for a parent with Alzheimer’s. Because my grandmother is physically “ok” (read: not bed-ridden or with physical impairment), Medicare won’t pay for home health assistance. Without the assistance she gets from family members, I’m sure the devastating effects of  caregiving would be amplified. 

Would you want your children to go through that?

Probably not.

We Want A Good Life For Our Kids

When I gave birth to my three sons, I became a mom who wanted my boys to have the best life possible. I do my best not to burden them with things that could kill their joy. Even as adults, I will want them to lead enriched happy lives, full of travel, love, grandchildren, and the pursuit of their passions.

If I save nothing for retirement, my three sons will be my forced safety net.

I will rely solely on them to provide for me that which I should have been able to provide for myself.

Who knows. I may even have Alzheimer’s.

Is that something that I want my boys to be faced with as they lead their own lives? No way. Watching me grow old will be hard for them anyhow. But having to be my daily caregiver is a stress I don’t want to ever place on my children, if I can prevent that.


So What’s the Solution?

Put your hands down! Stop avoiding retirement. It’s inevitable (unless, of course, you get hit by a bus–yikes!). Let’s embrace this conversation. If you’re not currently investing in a retirement account through your job, contact Human Resources and get the paperwork to open an account.

Learn about investing! If you’re already participating, increase your monthly contribution if you can. Learn about investing so you know what you’re investing in and if it’s a wise investment.

Make a plan! Start talking to your family, your spouse, your children, and making as many plans now as you can. I know it’s hard to do, since you have no idea what curve ball life will throw at you. But think about where you’ll live? Will you own it? Be a renter? How much will you really need? Ask yourself these questions and others. Without a plan, we’ll get nowhere.

Don’t be afraid to plan, and don’t be discouraged by numbers or lack of education about retirement, because it’s not fair for our children to bear the brunt of our ignorance and procrastination.

Your Turn

Do you save for retirement or not?
Do your eyes glaze over when you hear the word “retirement”?
Do you think it’s fair for children to have to be their parents’ caregiver?
Leave a comment below!

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About the Author ()

Serena Appiah is a wife and mom to 3 boys in the Washington, DC metro area who enjoys writing about family, finances, and raising children.

Comments (6)

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  1. There ALWAYS seems to be an excuse to put off saving for retirement, isn’t there? We share a common vision, Serena…outside of being able to provide for myself and my wife a great life after we exit the workforce, I am motivated to not be a burden on my kids. Your kids are NOT a retirement plan….LOVE IT! 🙂

    • Serena @ Get Your Life Straight says:

      Yeah, Travis, kids really can’t be a retirement plan! I never really thought about retirements self until recently and having to see my mom caring for we mom. I wouldn’t wish that on my kids for nothing. Put me in a state of the art “home” and let my kids have their own life!

  2. clara says:

    Just ignoring it won’t make it go away and if you start now is waay better than letting it slam you when you are older. I.E. you’ve got time on your side. Find a good fee only financial advisor, or start with a good book follow the instructions, listen with your husband to tape of Creating the Debt Free Marriage. You can do it, you are young, smart and frugal and a DIY. Start and keep going 🙂 You’re worth it.
    Best of luck

    • Serena says:

      Wow, Clara, thanks for those suggestions! I’m going to bookmark the Debt Free Marriage recording and get started on it! Thanks so much for the words of inspiration, and thanks for commenting! Means a lot 🙂

  3. DRIP is your new favorite word, Serena. Buy “widows and orphans” stocks – electricity, propane and the like – so called because they don’t fluctuate wildly but are good, steady gainers/earners. In VA, if you pay Dominion Resources electric bill every month, you can buy stock…no fee…just call them, they’ll send the paperwork, you complete it and every year put a minimum of $300 into your account and LEAVE IT. It’s called a DRIP – a dividend reinvestment plan and will earn compound interest. There are a LOT of companies who have DRIP plans, do a search and you’ll find a long list.
    You’ll be surprised how quickly your money works for you in making more money. Never take any dividends and by the time you’re ready to retire…nice nest egg!

    • Serena says:

      OOh, I’m so late with responding to this! Sorry, just saw it, Sandra! 🙂 Yes, I have heard about these, and I think I even had done it with Walmart YEARS ago. So basically, you just contact the company and buy stock directly from them? I’m going to research them and put them on my list of financial things to do!!! 🙂 Thanks so much!

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