When I was a kid, we struggled financially. It wasn't because my parents were lazy, it just that money was tight. I saw resourcefulness as well and hard work and believe I was raised with a Depression Era attitude.
Once I finished college and landed my full time teaching job, I listened to some of the older teachers talking about pensions, retirement accounts, and things like that. My dad and mom had to rely mostly on Social Security come retirement, and I can attest it was nothing but a struggle. I found a financial advisor who was willing to work with me because in 1986 teachers didn't make squat. So, $50 a pay period went into a 403b. And let me tell you, $50 a pay period was tough back then. I kept telling myself it was for my future and my retirement.
Last week at the grocery I saw a very nice looking older lady. She was dressed clean and neat. I am nosy so I was waching what she took out of her cart. One potato, a loaf of bread, a bunch of celery, some canned vegetables, a couple other fresh vegetables. She paid most of it with the Link card and I could tell she wasn't proud of that, but she also had to pony up some other money. My heart went out to her. She looked like someone who probably had been an upstanding citizen her whole life, but found herself unable to make it on whatever she was getting, I am assuming Social Security. She was careful with her shopping -- no snacks, no junk food, just wholesome food. I imagine she is careful in other areas of her life as well.
Knowing how my folks struggled and seeing her is incentive to try to save. I was fortunate -- I could save in a 403b and a Roth and I have a decent pension. I'm not getting rich by any means, but I'm careful. I know when my mom died and I was paying bills, I realized how close to the edge she skated each month to not having enough to pay for things. In fact, a few of the bills she wouldn't have been able to cover if she had still been alive.
I wonder if people who keep thinking they can't afford to put money in retirement accounts -- I'm not talking about the truly poor -- I'm talking about those who make good money, but tell themselves they will save later -- if they would have the incentive to save more for retirement if they had people like this lady tell them how the struggle is real. Then again, would they think it would apply to them?