Count Your Blessings

During my commute home today, I decided to start a personal finance blog. I was inspired by the sudden realization that something about our system, our way of life, is broken. I’m not sure what – exactly – is broken, but in bumper-to-bumper traffic, I penned the following about how I felt in that moment:

Dear imaginary financial adviser:

You’re saying I have to pay $250 a month, for 18-20 years, just to pay for my yet-to-exist child’s college tuition? One child? For a public, in-state university?

You’re saying I have to save 18% of my salary now through age 67? 

After paying for my two unborn children’s college tuition and my senior-citizen self, what about my present self? Can I afford a vacation? A down payment for a home? An emergency fund? Don’t even get me started on a new wardrobe. New clothes… what’s that?

We live in a world that expects people in their early 20’s to have the foresight and self-discipline to pay for retirement and their future kids years in advance. At the same time, they’re also expected to figure out their careers and save up for weddings and mortgages. If you don’t think that’s broken, you’re either in the one percent or extremely financially savvy. (If you started saving for your kids’ college tuition 10 years before they were born like this author recommends, I applaud you. That’s terrific. But I haven’t. Most of us haven’t).

But after I got home, I realized I was being way too hard on myself. Yes, it’s important to prepare for the future. But it’s also important to live in the present. To enjoy cheap wine and coffee. To count your blessings. I realize I’m one of the lucky ones: both blessed and grateful to even think about retirement, saving for my future kids’ colleges, and emergencies, when so many others cannot.

In reality, life is too short to spend time worrying about money. If you do, take a step back and do yourself and the people around you a favor by indulging in the little things. Nothing matters more than the present and the people you surround yourself with. And nature.

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8 thoughts on “Count Your Blessings

  1. Ashley

    Yikes, 10 years before your first kid you’re supposed to start saving? Dang. I’m definitely not that financially responsible by any means. I do believe in living for the moment and doing what you really enjoy, which sometimes costs you. But the cold hard fact is that when you’re approaching 30s & into your 40s, you really gotta grow up a lot in the financial realm and starting saving hella more than you think you should. Andrew & I have been working on our finances for 3 years and it’s just so hard to get in the right mindset. Ugh !

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  2. rose

    I don’t know anybody who ever did this including my parents and grandparents. You live, fall in love, have a family, be responsible in saving for unemployment (heaven forbid!), health issues, car maintenance, and that future down payment on a new car. College doesn’t have to be a parents responsibility. It’s nice to get some help but possible to do it on one’s own. Would you rather pay for college or support broke parents who took on that debt? FYI. College students need to seriously consider what debt they are willing to sign up for based on the degree sought. Teachers don’t need to go to Yale! There are few teaching jobs these days anyway, so why are the education schools filled?

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    1. I do agree that parents need to ensure their retirement first before saving for their kids’ college. It’s just really sad that today, college = debt, and that so many parents have to make the choice between retirement and their kids’ colleges. Further, no kid with a minimum wage job – or two or three! – can pay their way through college anymore. I also agree that before college, students need to carefully consider their degree and the amount of debt and lifestyle they want post-graduation.

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  3. I think this is a great idea for a blog. Looking forward to hearing more of your opinions and thoughts on the matter. I think you should have wordpress post to FB for you. More people need to be prompted to think about things like this, and maybe your blog can help them do just that.

    You’re an allstar!

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  4. Pingback: The Easiest Retirement Calculator Ever. | Cheap Wine and Coffee

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