I recently attended a presentation covering the 401K and other retirement benefits available to employees in my school district. The air thickened and people began squirming in their chairs within minutes. At my table of 10 people only 1 other person seemed engaged in understanding the content. 80% of the people sitting by me started engaging in side conversations, doodling, or checking Facebook. Feeling shocked I listened in on their conversations.
"Oh, I just don't get this stuff. I wish they would just choose for me."
"I know right, I just feel so stupid when they start talking about stocks and stuff. It's overwhelming"
"I'm 23 years old, why do I need to be worried about retirement? That's for old people"
"Why in the heck would anyone ever contribute $500 a month to a 401K? Do these people even exist?!"
"I just let my husband take care of it all. Hey! What time is lunch? We should go out."
I looked down at the list of questions I had brought.
Is it possible to simultaneously contribute $18,000 to my 401K and $18,000 to my 457? (The answer is yes!)
How much does my company contribute annually? What is the company match policy?
Which of the available plans has the lowest expenses and fees?
Why were we having such a different experience?
Unfortunately, I had a similar attitude to these ladies in the past. My parents taught me what they knew about money. They told me to spend on needs before wants, live frugally, don't waste money, work hard to earn, and stay out of debt. While I definitely believe in their advice, It's just not enough to save money to guarantee financial freedom. My high school economics classes taught me about supply and demand, but didn't teach me anything about planning for retirement.
Thankfully, I married Mr. H who helped me become self educated. Through reading books, asking questions, looking at financial calculators, and talking about investing I have learned. I don't claim to be an expert, but I feel confident managing and growing money. My mindset has completely transformed and I feel comfortable finding information about any topic I don't understand.
The only way to break free is to educate yourself. No one will care for your money as much as you do. Don't rely on professionals who take your money through fees and commissions. Reading a few financial books could completely change your life and financial future. There is so much more to life that paying bills until you die. You do not have to be a genius to invest your money wisely. It's time to stop making excuses and take charge of your life to become self educated.
Check out our Financial 101 Excellent Resources page for a list of fantastic books.