Friday, March 16, 2007

Retiring Early

Historically, I haven't been very good with money. I frivolously spent what little money I had, I did a really poor job of tracking my finances and the words "RRSP" and "investing" likely never entered my vocabulary. Consequently, I became a really easy target for theft. And it cost me.

Now you'd think having gone through something like that would have motivated me to get a handle on my finances and start changing some bad practices into wiser, financial choices. But no. I really didn't change much. I was quite willing to live pay cheque to pay cheque and continue poor spending habits as long as when I hit OK on that debit keypad, it came back saying "Approved."

It really wasn't until this guy named Graham came into my life that I actually started to realize that I needed to make some changes. Making some small changes was by no means easy. It was hard to start distributing my money around into different accounts without feeling like i'd somehow lost some. i liked the feeling of seeing that lump sum all in one account. And of course, i'm pretty risk averse so the mere mention of some potential loss through investing scared me to death. I'm by no means an expert, nor am I anywhere close to a perfectly set financial future but I think the most important thing is that I'm thinking about it and trying to learn. I started an RRSP, I'm attending a Basic Retirement and Savings investment Course through work and I am much more dilligent about tracking my money through online banking.

I recently read this article in BusinessWeek about a couple who were able to retire in their late 30's after several years of smart saving and investing. Although this is rather unusual, its definitley been inspirational. Before i really cared about money, I thought that thinking about retirement when you're 23 was an utterly ludicrous idea. When Graham asked me where I saw myself in 30 years, I nearly burst out laughing. I have a hard time deciding what to wear in the morning let alone what my life might look like at 50. Anyways, turns out thinking about retirement in your early twenties really isn't a stupid idea at all. It's actually quite smart.

So when I'm a rich old lady, floating around on my yacht off the coast of some idyllic setting and sipping vintage wine out of fancy glasses, writing my memoirs, I'll remember to thank Graham. Without him, my financial future future might be in shambles. I'd likely need to hire some financial advisor and waste more money rather than saving any. At least Graham's advice comes for free ;)

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