I was really nervous about hitting “publish” on my last post. Retirement has been at the forefront of my mind ever since Bryan and I started dating and he uttered the shocking words “I could retire next year”. I looked at my small 401(k) balance, all of our plans and dreams, and worried about the security of my future.
Surprisingly enough, no one responded with shock or disgust. No one implied that I’m selfish, or acting entitled. Over the past week (and a half), I’ve felt like this huge weight has been lifted. Maybe what I’m feeling is completely normal? A lot of couples start off on uneven ground. Maybe, despite our large age difference, this was something that many other couples could relate to?
With the worry of how I’d be perceived gone, I’ve finally been able to really think about my future, and start making a plan. I’m finally completely debt free. The last few weeks I’ve been putting money aside for a vacation ($1,000) and working to build my emergency fund back to $5,000. At $330 a week saved (at least), I expect it to take less than
10 9 more weeks to accomplish both goals.
And then? I think I’ll bump up my 401(k) contribution. Right now I’m contributing 4% per week, which equals out to a little over $39. My employer contributed an additional 6%. Bumping my contributions up from 4% to 25% will leave me putting just under $250 in every week. Depending on how taxes shake out, that should leave me with $100+ each week for… whatever. Vacations. Extra savings. A side hustle fund. Whatever!
I’ll admit, putting $1,000-ish every month away for the distant future makes me a little nervous. What about our short and medium term goals? But, I’ll still have $400-ish every month for whatever else. And, right now, we don’t really have concrete short or medium term goals. I can change my 401(k) contributions whenever I want. It isn’t like I’m stuck with that choice forever! And I seriously doubt future me will regret that decision!
I also keep reminding myself that we aren’t a one income family. Although I’m currently the more solvent partner, Bryan actually makes more money than I do. And this year should be a much better year for him, since he no longer has a house payment.
One thing that I’ve been very honest with Bryan about, if he’s considering retiring early, or becoming a snow bird, and wants to do that with me (which he does), then we have to work together to make sure both of our futures are secure. If we’re each working towards different goals, we won’t be able to share in the same things. He wants to spend the Winter months in a warmer climate. And I do too! But I can’t do that at the expense of my own retirement!
I don’t know what the future holds. But I’m finally starting to give myself permission to plan for the future. And just telling myself it’s okay is a huge sigh of relief.
- Cindy W.