Tag Archives: 401k

Anxiety 401k: Parents’ Over-compensation

Parents’ disorder: anxiousrexia money nervosa. Kid’s inheritance: moolah hoarding? Saving your style.   — BadWitch

Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…

Dear GWBW — I’m 25 and my parents…are so freaked out about their financial situation… they’re insisting I put ¾ of my salary towards my retirement. I think that’s way too much, help me get them to get off my back! I’m being responsible, but how do I tell them nicely that just because they neglected to take better care of their own stuff, that I’m not doing the same thing and a better planner than them? I am planning on staying at home another year (to save up a downpayment, I’m almost there!) and they really want to help me, but I swear every other conversation in this house is about my retirement. Old Before My Time


Dear Old Before Time,

Three-quarters of your salary does seem too much towards your retirement at your age — and yet there’s no time like the present for retirement savings! Investing is all about understanding and embracing your risk tolerance and balancing it with your current life age/stage toward attaining your ultimate financial goal values (e.g., education, home ownership, retirement. Go find yourself a good mentor or professional financial planner). You are just starting out. Since you don’t mention having debt but saving for house down payment, I will assume your presentation of your finances is accurate and speak to that. The only person I personally know who started saving for his retirement first from age 19 on, and then started buying rental property(-ies), was my college BFF. He paid cash for everything (then was shocked he hadn’t built credit) and saved every penny — but he has indeed been set for retirement at minimum 25 years ahead of his. While that is some amazing and awesome peace of mind (especially in these continuing uncertain economic times) I believe it’s important to choose to live a balanced life (cheap can evolve into miserly as habits set, but it’s important to live within your means while meeting your needs, too), and that starts with our thoughts, and yes, I’m still talking about saving and investment here.

Money is emotional.  Much like your investment style, weigh whether your relationship with money (How you are in relationships with others is a strong indicator of how you are with your money, i.e., do you wait for others to take care of things, or are you straightforward and assertive with people? Think about everyone close to you and I’ll be surprised if you can find an exception to that) is a subconscious manifestation of your parents’ worried projections, or if it’s more a reflection (and practice) of your own values — that’s the real financial goal I would focus on attaining.

Bless your blessings,



Dear Old Before Time,

Well, your parents have some good advice for you, though they may be a bit over-zealous. Here’s the thing: compound interest is your friend. The more you can put in now, the bigger your win at retirement time. Though 75% of your salary seems a bit extreme as you start to save for your new life, the more you save now, the more your money works for you over time.

David Bach, author of Automatic Millionaire and Start Late, Finish Rich, offers a chart that compares the amount of savings three individuals have by the age of 65. The first starts saving $250 per month ($3000 per year) at 15 years old and ends up with $1,615,363.40. The second person starts at age 19 contributing the same $250 per year. But with 4 less years of investing ($4800 less in investment) our second investor has $1,552,739.35—more than $62,000 less than the 15 year old investor. Our last investor starts investing $250 a week at 27 (12 years later than our 15 year old investor; $14,400 less in capital) and earns $1,324,777.67 by age 65—$290,585.80 less than our early investor.

In other words, start early and set up a set amount automatically deposited into a compounding interest retirement account. The more you put in now while your overhead is low will go a long way towards working for your continued solvency through retirement. Some to house savings, some to retirement savings and some towards enjoying your life—do that and see life blossom before you—with a strong foundation to support you.

Good luck and happy savings,



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