You will be old for a really long time

My students often say “Money is tight now, I need to hold off on saving for retirement until I’m doing better.”

For the purposes of this exercise, let’s be conservative and say that your statistical life expectancy is just 80 years.  The below is a nice little demonstration of your life’s earning potential.  I hope this will put into perspective what a small percentage of your life you will be earning money, and what a large percentage of your life you will need to live off of that money you earned.

Years 0-10: you’re totally cute and the world expects nothing of you

Years 10-20: you’re expensive, but still your parents problem

Years 20-30: you’re desperately trying to get somewhere in your career

Years 30-40: you have kids and it’s a total fog, but you are making some money and are on your way there!

Years 40-50: you have a nice income stream if you are a dad, (not so much statistically if you are a mom)

Years 50-65: please don’t fire me – I really do know how to use a computer!

Years 65-80: this is all I am going to get for social security?  this is all I have to live on?  you’ve got to be kidding me!!!

Years 80-100: (If you’re my grandma or otherwise blessed with good genes) see years 65-80.

So, you might live 80-100 years, and best case scenario, you’ll be working from ages 18-65.  That’s 47 years.  That could be as little as half of your life.  You need to save and make those years count!