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Jesse on Retirement: “The Whole Idea is Starting to Bug Me”

The following is a transcription of YNAB podcast episode 80 (with some small edits for flow). Make sure you subscribe to the podcast to get Jesse’s weekly take on budgeting and personal finance.

We’ve been talking a lot – especially since I launched that investment course – about saving for retirement (or other things). And in that course I talked about how the purpose of investing is to grow your wealth. Period.

And…to become, oh, what’s the word, like a fat-cat type person. People are sometimes bothered by the idea of wealth because sometimes they see wealth being wasted, or being used flamboyantly (if that’s the right word) – for show, for selfish reasons.

But wealth does an awful lot of good – especially on a micro level: wealth for your kids – to provide them a great education, or to provide the necessities of life to people, or just to give to worthy causes, or to pay for your daughter’s (modest) wedding.

Wealth isn’t bad it all. The investment side of things focuses a ton on retirement and it’s starting to kind of bug me. Mark’s been writing on the blog about how he wants to move – well not wants to move – but running the numbers on moving to a 2-bedroom apartment instead of having his house, and it would mean $200,000 in ten years, and that could go toward retirement.

And then people came back with all sorts of insightful comments about how there are all sorts of other factors besides just the savings and investing for retirement.

In the investing course I really push people hard toward starting, and I’m not backing down from that at all. The average 50-year-old has about $1,000 to their name for each year they are old (or young, depending on how you look at it)!

But the idea of saving and investing toward retirement has tons written about it – you see book after book after book talking about how you can retire – you can stop working. And I just want to say that I think you should take a hard look at being content now.

It would be really, really sad if you had these great kids (as I do – five kids, ages eight and under – basically piled in like a stack of pancakes). And we’re busy with them – it’s crazy at the house, truly crazy – absolute chaos. And sometimes I’m guilty of thinking “When it’s just Rose…” (She’s the youngest – not saying she’s my favorite, but she sure is cute) …”how simple will that be?” All the other kids will have moved on, and I just think about how simple that will be.

And then at the gym the other day someone told me “Oh, man – when they’re teenagers, everything changes. It’s crazy.”

So here I am, looking ahead the future, always thinking, “Man, tomorrow. That will be something.” Instead of enjoying right now. Enjoying the chaos for what it is, and just finding the joy in the moment.

I was reading a sermon by a church leader who says (paraphrasing): “If you’re always focused on tomorrow, you have a lot of empty yesterdays.”

I feel like the retirement siren song is causing us – or could cause us to be looking to that day off in the future where we get to retire and stop working. Where we get to travel more, or do more woodworking, or gardening, or whatever it is you’re excited about doing when you have more spare time. Always looking forward and saying “Oh, that’s going to be great. I’ll just survive for today.” Instead of just enjoying the moment, enjoying today for what it is.

Whether you’re sitting in a cubicle, crunching numbers (which is what I was doing back in the day), or whether you’re making a podcast (which is what I’m doing now) – just enjoy the moment.

Everyone should go back to the podcast where I interviewed Leo (from and listen to that again, because it’s a good exercise in being content. And when you’re content, maybe that’s the key to retirement: You may not ever really care about retiring because you’re just living in the moment and enjoying where you are.

Whether you’re in debt and slowly getting out, or you’re out of debt and looking to invest more – whatever you’re finances are at the moment. You can just be content with where you are and happy with the direction you’re facing – but you’re not looking off to some distant day and not ignoring – missing- what’s going on all around you.

Some food for thought.

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Jesse on Retirement: “The Whole Idea is Starting to Bug Me”