All this great new "stuff" and your brain is awash with excitement and desire to buy — and why not? You work hard and you've earned it. But I have just one piece of advice for you: Don't do it!
America has become the ultimate consumer society, and for good reason. We buy more "stuff" than any other country on earth and have gone into massive debt to buy what we want. Banks and credit card companies offer no-money-down deals and extend low interest rate loans to almost anybody. It is all so very tempting. We as a society have become the largest debtor population in the history of mankind, and, make no mistake about it, one day it will all have to paid back — plus interest.
Being a heavily indebted society means we do not save enough money. Whether it is for a rainy day or for our retirement, Americans are saving at the lowest rate in our history. And the renewed debate over Social Security highlights that most of us do not save enough money to retire without undue worry. It does not matter if they "fix" Social Security because it alone is not enough to live on today, or in the future. But if you make a plan and actually take action to save money, you can ensure you have what you need when you need it.
Do your best to set aside a small percentage every month to fund a retirement or savings account. At the very least, start an IRA and fund it to the maximum every single year. Take advantage of your company's 401k plan, if offered, and fund it with diversified holdings. Don't just buy stock in the company that you work for, as that got Enron and WorldCom employees in trouble. If you are self-employed, then start a SEP account (Simplified Employee Pension) and fund it with as much as you are able.
Remember, all the money you deposit in these types of accounts is tax deferred. It means you can deduct it from your yearly income and not have to start paying the taxes until you withdraw the money many years later. After you begin funding for your retirement, make sure to pay careful attention to your investments as you will be able to direct them as you see fit.
There is hardly anything as satisfying, when it comes to money, as having a substantial nest egg waiting for you if you need it, or when you decide to take it easy in your golden years. Your retirement will be funded by nobody but you. That is why you must make the conscious decision to plan ahead and take action with every paycheck you get.
This weekend our Business Block has much more on spending versus saving. Tune in Saturday 10am — noon ET.