Once upon a time, in a life far, far away, I met a financial advisor named Nick Liskey in a meeting about 401ks and planning for retirement. The room he was speaking in had a door in either direction beside him, probably 30-40 feet away from each other. He asked where we would go if there was a fire, and inevitably most people pointed at the door they could easily see. If you were facing one way, even if you were closer to the one behind you, most people didn’t say they would use that door. His point after this exercise is that you tend to go in the direction that your feet are pointed. That is great if you like the outcome, but if you don’t, you need to change direction.
Over the course of my adult years I have been blessed in many ways, but have also faced some challenges. I come from a family where I had 2 loving parents with a relatively good head on their shoulders when it came to saving. I grew up hearing various conversations about generic money topics, and saw examples of side jobs first hand. My mom had a second income using her sewing skills, my dad his computer repair skills. They both worked on rental properties in various capacities over the years. When I moved out of the house right around my 20th birthday, I was pregnant, in school (and really didn’t want to be), in a dead end job (for another couple days), and really had no plan. The direction I was headed was debt, debt, and more debt. First with student loans (the one thing I think was very bad advise from my parents), and then credit card debt, and as soon as my employer found out that I too was pregnant, no job. I was also thrust into a little bit different mindset from what I grew up in. I can’t really say why, and I am positive there are a ton of studies explaining people’s theories as to why, but moving into a trailer park with my kids’ dad, I was suddenly around a lot of people that didn’t have a plan. Based on the trailer park I live in now, many of the people I was around probably didn’t have goals either. Or rather the goal was just to survive.
I want to be very clear on this point… if you move yourself into a position that allows you to save money on living expenses, but puts you with people that are just trying to survive, you need a plan to not adopt this mindset!
This was actually the mindset of a lot of the people in the factory this meeting took place in. They didn’t really have a plan, so they just spent the money they had and got more money next week when the next check came in. Nick’s suggestion was figuring out what you need to retire, and then working toward putting money away each check that would help you get there. I have no idea what he said as far as how to figure that out, but the point of moving your feet so they point in the right direction stuck with me. I “need” to be saving several hundred dollars a month to retire in 10 years… I can’t afford that right now, but I can at least put 1% away so that I am in my current 401k program. Then once I am getting 40 hours a week regularly, maybe I can put 2 or 3% in. Then maybe I’ll be able to get the full match. But moving my feet closer to the direction they need to be going changes the trajectory of my retirement plans, because it is easier to change by a little bit at a time than trying to go from none to a whole bunch all at once.
One baby step at a time,
Going Green Mom