Then when you have kids, every time there is a food price increase due to higher fuel costs, it hits you exponentially. But there’s all that money you’ve put away for retirement, right? Right?
I work free-lance. I don’t really have a 401K. My wife, however, is a normal person. She does. Or, she did. Before our eyes we saw our balance that we… I mean my wife, worked very hard for years and year so it would hopefully grow into something we could use when we retired. Or at least blow on something stupid like a yacht painted with the slogan “Gas, Grass or Ass, No One Rides for Free”.
My wife and I knew very little about money and the “markets”, “401Ks” and “investing.” We really didn’t. So we learned the hard way, by making mistakes. Not a good way to learn.
Our generation learned nothing about money from our parents. “Put money in a savings account” was the long and short of our financial planning advice. I remember once my father asked me what a stock option was. Then I told him. He looked at me like I just tried to explain quantum physics.
But then I asked my father how his pension was doing. “Fine” he replied. “I don’t trust the stock market so all my money was in fixed.” Whoah. Stop right there. It was the wisest thing my father had ever said. That wily, wily son of a gun.
Obviously now this whole “knowing nothing” about money and the economy was all a ruse. My father was a financial genius and saw this coming a mile away. His money wasn’t in the market. He was safe. And since he’ll be retiring soon, he doesn’t have to worry about working another 100 years, like the rest of us. This of course made me both impressed and resentful.
But who do you turn to? Financial planners? They are nothing more than glorified bookies. We had one that was so moronic he actually got us into more debt. Thanks, I could have done that myself and saved $500.
So we had to learn about money on our own. But more importantly we have to teach our kids about money. We just have to. Things are too complicated and unstable. They have to know. Right after they get their $5.00 allowance tell them if they hold on to it for a year and keep it in the market then they’ll only have to pay capital gains taxes on it. Their response will probably be “But I just want to buy candy” which is certainly valid as well.
Recently our 401K (I can say “our”, we’re married) went down to a 30% loss. At least that’s something. Right now all you can hope for is a smaller negative number. But when my father comes to visit this Christmas, he’s buying.
Chris Mancini is a comedian and author. His first book “My Life is Over, A Handbook for the Freaked-Out New Dad” will be out next father’s day.