Iiiiiii'm walking on air — I never thought I could feel so free-ee-eeee…”
If you just read the subject of this email and were unable to stop yourself from completing the line — then I know something about you.
Not that you sat too close to your bulky TV set on Wednesday nights in 1981with a plate of over-nuked fish sticks and tater tots waiting for everyone’s favorite curly blond superhero, Ralph Hinkley, to wobble through the sky above Los Angeles.
No, if those simple words triggered the heavy-synth sounds of the TV jingle that hit #2 on the Billboard charts — then not only were you on the cutting edge of what was cool for the times, but it also tells me something infinitely more important.
At this point it’s been 36 years since The Greatest American Hero premiered with aliens mysteriously delivering a spandex bodysuit to a substitute high school teacher. And if you were witness to that and the whole subgenre of sensitive-but-strong-man-dramas like Knight Rider, Miami Vice, and Remington Steele that quickly followed, then I know without a shadow of a doubt — at this point, you should be saving for retirement.
Those were good times, and perhaps simpler times when it came to entertaining us (Newsflash: The Greatest American Hero is practically unwatchable now.) But if you were on earth for that pop culture milestone, and you haven’t already started — it’s time to focus on saving.
No matter how much we love what we do, our biological clock is ticking. No, I’m not talking about babies — I’m talking about wanting to raise a middle finger to shout F*OFF to working. We may glide gracefully into smaller and smaller slices of part time during our golden years, or we might be like my mom who worked full-time until she woke up one morning 3 years ago and decided she was done, made one phone call and sold her business. [The way I imagine it, she opened her eyes, reached over to the bed side table, picked up the phone and calmly spoke the code words “I’m out,” and went back to sleep.]
I hope when the times comes, I’ll have set myself up for the ‘I’m out’ moment of my choosing. At this point – I love my work, and would do it forever, but there’s no way I can say for certain that I won’t change my mind — so I’m already planning to give myself options.
The good news is, if the above lyrics brought a vision of flailing arms, and crazy-legs in front of a green-screened sky, you likely still have plenty of time to plan and save for that moment you decide you’re over it. You’re not late, you’re just fine, but it’s time to get on it.
Studies have shown that we learn our most powerful money habits from our parents. And back in the ’80s saving for retirement was a lot easier than it is now. Many of our parents had a pension from companies where they had worked for decades. That kind of security has proven to be unsustainable, and as a result the rules have changed for us and later generations. We instead are tasked with managing the whole operation ourselves, with the risk resting squarely on our shoulders. So what’s first on the list? Simply getting started.
The idea of starting a savings plan might be as terrifying as when I put my running shoes on again for the first time in a million years this morning. I finally realized that I wasn’t going to magically lose that 5 pounds which had somehow wandered onto my body when I wasn’t paying attention. And if I don’t start now it’s only going to get harder. Yes, I cringed when I passed my neighbor on the sidewalk who witnessed me wobbling my way through an initial two-mile jog/limp, but who cares? I had to do it. And soon I found myself absentmindedly humming an old song I hadn’t thought about in decades… It just sprung from my subconscious, and was oddly motivating as I imagined myself all crazy arms and legs through my neighborhood…
“Believe it or not Iiiiii’m walking on air, I never thought I could feel so free-ee-eeeee. Flyin’ away on a wing and a prayer, who could it beeeeeeee. Believe it or not it’s just meeeeeee!”
If I can do it, you can do it.
P.S. If you read the headline of this post and instead finished it with “George isn’t at home, please leave a messaaaaaaage at the beeeeeeeeep. I must be out, or I’d pick up the phone. Where could I beeeeeeeeee? Believe it or not, I’m not hooooooome!” this all still applies.
The foregoing content reflects the opinions of Insight Personal Finance, LLC and is subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that the statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct.
All investing involves risk, including the potential for loss of principal. There is no guarantee that any investment plan or strategy will be successful.