I'm done putting off today's dreams to fund tomorrow's retirement
According to some financial formulas, I should put away $1.5 million to enjoy a comfortable retirement.
I've been working hard to save what I can.
I max out my Roth IRA most years, and I save more money in taxable investment accounts and other places. I've even taken some aggressive measures to try to boost my return.
But the reality is that no matter how much I save, I can say with near certainty that I will not meet that goal. The truth is, very few of us will ever come close to reaching our "number."
Yet I probably spend too much time worrying about where I’m going to be financially when I’m 65.
I recently read The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss, and it made me think twice about the way we view retirement.
Ferriss suggests most people suffer from ADD (Adventure Deficit Disorder) and that the traditional format of working 30 to 40 years before starting to live life is all backwards.
In fact, Ferriss thinks our concept of life after work is pretty ridiculous and suggests that we enjoy a number of "mini-retirements" along the way.
I think there's a lot of merit in this philosophy.
It does sound strange to work like a horse your entire life and put off all your dreams until you retire.
You want to see the pyramids at Giza. You want to play golf twice a week. You want to drive an RV to Alaska.
But you might not have the health or wealth to do any of those things when you're no longer working.
Your dreams might be replaced by trips to the pharmacy to buy dozens of medications that insurance won't cover.
There's a chance you might not even live to reach retirement. Or that you have to continue working past age 65.
A survey last year found that more than half of workers nearing retirement were putting it off and working longer.
Fortunately, I've already had the opportunity to do a lot in my 35 years.
I've bushwacked through the Amazon, stayed with headhunters in Borneo. I've been skydiving. I’ve peered into volcanoes.
But there's still a lot more I want to do in life.
It makes me think there’s a big downside to living too frugally and planning too much for decades from now.
As a new father, I can't run off for two months on one of Ferriss' mini-retirements.
But I can stop obsessing over my retirement account and maybe focus a little more on my fun account.
This is in no way an endorsement to stop saving. It’s an endorsement to stop oversaving.
Most people have the opposite of this problem. They're not saving too much, they're saving too little.
So how do we find a realistic balance? For me, I'm thinking about saving at least half of what I need to make that goal.
That will be my rock-bottom minimum, and anything beyond that might be put toward enjoyment today or other shorter-term investments.
Maybe I'll retire with half of what I need and live a less posh retirement. If that means I can live more dreams between now and then, that could be a fair compromise.
It won’t be the end of the world if I retire with $900,000 instead $1.5 million.