My lavish lifestyle has often resulted in lean times through the years. But lately, I have started to think about what I am doing and not doing with my money.
Most of my friends are talking about 401K this, IRA that and investing in some kind of stock; this has forced me to face myself and ask, “Do I want to retire comfortably?”
The answer is yes, which also means the days of buying a round of mojitos is now officially over. It was fun, kids!
In February, I took a class with a nonprofit that teaches the financially awkward about budgeting, reducing debt and saving. I also began to read personal finance blogs, including, www.getrichslowly.org and www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com.
I recently spent an afternoon lounging in the personal finance aisle of a bookstore and discovered it looked eerily similar to the romance section three rows down with pastel-colored books that looked like summer beach reads rather than books on money.
Some of my faves were “Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich,” (Lois P. Frankel) “Make Money not Excuses” (Jean Chatzky) and “Start Late, Finish Rich” (David Bach), which just made me feel better about being a late bloomer.
The interesting part of my research was discovering how a lot of people feel as if they just don’t have enough money — per month — to save.
I spoke with 23-year-old Rosanna McKillop, a student who works at Dali Clothing Store in Huntington Beach, who admits she thinks about retirement but that it still isn’t a priority.
“I definitely know I should,” McKillop said. “But, I’m still in school, so it’s not easy to save … I don’t feel capable of saving because I still live paycheck to paycheck. And I work at a retail store, so when I do save money, I spend it here.”
Kristina Vu, 17, is well on her way to a golden retirement. The high school student is already planning her retirement and talks about her plans with her mom, Katherine Nghiem. She said she raised her kids as a single mom and spoke openly about the virtues of saving and planning ahead.
“My kids somehow picked up from me how to save and spend wisely,” said Nghiem, 38.
Personally, saving is not second nature to me. I struggle with it on most days, but also embrace it as a new way to live.
I’ve given up buying my morning coffee every day and moved it to weekends only. I don’t buy $4 bottled water from Norway. I take alternative transportation twice a week to save money on gas, and my library card is my favorite piece of plastic.
CINDY ARORA is a freelance writer for the Independent.