Apocalyptic Excuses

When I was 25 I had a conversation with this guy my neighbor was dating. He was some kind of corporate drone. You could tell he was a corporate drone because he had a career and cared about money. I on the other hand was spiritual. Caring about money seemed destinctly un-spiritual and even more un-magical. Yuck.

He asked me what my plans were for retirement. This was like the most dronish, douchiest thing ever. We were both 25! I informed him that I did not have any faith the system would last that long. No Social Security or 401k’s will even exist by the time I am ready to retire.

That was 20 years ago. I happened to bump into him recently. We are both happy with work and with families we love. The difference is he has an 8 figure nestegg, and I just started putting mine together a few years ago. Turns out that 401k’s are STILL here. Social Security is still here. Roth IRA’s and SEP’s are still here. People that invested for the long haul largely have done exceedingly well.

When I was growing up in the 80’s, some kids older than me told me they didn’t want to waste time on college because we were all gonna die in nuclear Armageddon anyway. In the 90’s I was sure Manhattan would be underwater by now. In the early 2000’s I was sure that the markets were collapsing and it was all gonna crash down around us.

Apart from that, I remember a large number of people my age saying “I am probably gonna die before 40 anyway, so live for today!”. I remember saying it myself in fact. Yet here we all are 20 years later. In our fourties, with the sneaking suspicion that we may have another 40 years or so to go….

I posted the picture above to my blog yesterday and asked people how old do you think you should be to read the magazine on the left as a companion to the book on the right. Most people answered correctly: As soon as you enter the workforce. Failing that, the answer is RIGHT NOW.

Sooner or later though I knew someone was going to say that the system will not be here when we retire. Whether because of capital controls, currency devaluation, market collapse, socialist revolution, war with North Korea, or whatever you can imagine. There is always a reason to think that we wont be here tomorrow.

Maybe the system will collapse by the time you are ready to use your IRA, 401k, or retirement savings. If it happens, you will have bigger problems than losing that money. It probably won’t happen though. We human beings have a funny way of pulling ourselves away from the apocalypse just in the nick of time.

Don’t use the apocalypse as an excuse.

May we all have long, happy, and prosperous lives.

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