As winter slowly approaches, I am reminded of a comment my father often made to me: “Don’t be a grasshopper, son,” a reference to Aesop’s classic tale about saving and frivolity. My father always encouraged me to be like the ant, and work diligently while the summer sun still shone.
As the years progress, I now find myself in the late summer of my life. Though I am making hay while the sun shines, I know that many members of my generation and the one following are naught but hordes of grasshoppers, fiddling away their time. When do we really ever think about our 70 year old selves?
Speaking about retirement to a 20-something is likely to get you a face full of “there’s time for that later!” To the 30-something, it’s likely to be more like “I know, I know. I’ll take a look at that on Monday.” But, by the time we’re 40-something, we’re in a mad dash to catch ourselves up.
But what if there isn’t?
As traditional retirement support systems like Social Security and pensions diminish, personal savings become the most important way to save. It’s here that lives the need for personal savings. Sadly, many younger individuals do not understand that $100 saved now in their 20’s will yield almost 40% more than $300 invested in their 30’s.
As Einstein was once purported to say “compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe.”
In the multi-media, instant gratification society where we live, it’s easy to identify with the grasshopper that spends its time loving the spotlight. Everyone’s a star in their own way. It’s what reality TV is all about. However, it’s the ant, the one of many that knows the sacrifice now for survival down the road.
Even though we’re all stars in the global community, accountability for your own savings falls solely on you. Will you become the ant or the grasshopper?