One day, three years ago, I was driving home from work feeling very overwhelmed about what it costs to be a young adult. I had just started a new job a few months prior – making a much bigger salary – but I was saving the entire difference in my paychecks for retirement. (As noted here, I didn’t do the best job of saving for retirement in my 20s, so I needed to try and make up for lost time).
Additionally, I had just heard about college 529 plans, which help families pay for their kids’ college tuition costs. Similar to the 401k, the idea is that you contribute money into the plan, and it grows tax free to eventually pay for your child’s college tuition. However, for 529 plans to work, parents really need to start contributing immediately after their child is born. This means saving $200 – $300 per month PER CHILD from age zero to 18. (Of course, many parents opt to contribute less than that in the hopes of covering just half of the costs by the time their kid reaches college).
So there I was at my new job, bringing home the same paycheck I brought home at my last job (after retirement), and realizing that I’ve only just scratched the surface of what needs to be done if I ever want to retire, buy a home, and have kids.
Add student loans and childcare costs to the equation, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right. It felt like the system wasn’t working the way it’s supposed to, and that saving for retirement, a home, and kids would all be much harder than I thought.
Of course, this was before the media started reporting on the middle class struggle, the millennial struggle, and the flawed 401(k) system. As it turns out, these things ARE hard, and I wasn’t the only one feeling the burn.
But in that moment, three years ago, I realized that I was being too hard on myself when it comes to planning, budgeting and saving. 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. We only get one life, and nothing matters more than the present, the people you surround yourself with, and the things that make you happy.
Taken literally, the name of my blog reflects a simple pleasure I love – sinking into the couch with a hot cup of coffee or a glass of cabernet 🙂 Figuratively, Cheap Wine and Coffee is a reminder for everyone to take the time to indulge in the small things, even while planning for the big things.
That evening, three years ago, I penned my first blog post – Count Your Blessings – and Cheap Wine and Coffee was born.
What’s YOUR cheap wine and coffee?
P.S. Cheap Wine and Coffee now has a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest page. For anyone wanting more conversation than the blog allows, I post on Facebook and Twitter daily and hope you’ll join me!