Modern money is a strange phenomenon. We work every day for it but in our digital era money is a virtual, faceless thing that we hold in a plastic card, on a computer screen, at a bank, in a hole in a wall or in our wallets in small doses of cash. When I think of money like this, it seems we all have the same experience with it. We all have a card, an online bank account, access to a bank or ATM, as well as notes and coins in our wallets. Whether we have it, lack it or swing between it, we all access our money the exact same way.
It is for this reason that money is often expressed via material things. For example, if you’ve got money, it is likely you’ve invested in a more flashy car than someone with less. You may also live in a stylish house in a high profile suburb and dress in designer clothes. This is just one scenario of how money is expressed and there’s nothing wrong with it. You know the saying ‘if you’ve got it – flaunt it.’
On the other hand, people with money may do the opposite thing. A person might have the same amount of money as the person in the example above, but might choose to live an entirely different lifestyle. Some rich people continue to drive an old car even once they’ve created wealth. They continue to count their pennies and put money away for a rainy day. Their value systems and focus may be different.
Whether you desire to flaunt your wealth to the people on your street in an obvious way or hide your wealth under the bed, what you do comes down to personal preference, lifestyle choice, life circumstance, personal values and more. There are too many variables to list here. People have written entire books on this stuff!
But, living in the now is just so much fun isn’t it?
Many people choose to ‘live for now’ and throw their money into momentary material objects such as cars, clothes, holidays and home décor (all of which lose value over time). Most also have the goal to save for a more solid investment, like a home – and that’s fine too. All of this is okay because life is for living and we all need a home to live and relax in, or pass onto our kids. These are common and popular dreams.
Living in the moment is awesome, fun and totally worth every moment in terms of that awful thought ‘if you were to die tomorrow’ – and that’s why we all choose to do it.
I’m a hybrid
I’m a bit of a hybrid in this sense. Whether I have money or not, I like to do things in style and have fun in the moment. I try to live in the moment on a budget. I drive a modest car (currently getting fixed!) and make the most of a fairly minimal wardrobe. Sometimes hubby and I indulge in a night out or something cool for the kids – but that’s about as far as it goes for us. We live near bike tracks and the beach so we can live an enjoyable and indulgent lifestyle that is totally affordable.
We’re also willing to go without for long periods of time (its been three years we’ve been living in the rubble of a renovation) because hubby and I have chosen to forgo a lot now, so we can put our feet up soon and fulfill some travel dreams for our family.
Yes, we feel like we’ve ‘done it hard’ and that’s going to pay off in a ‘mortgage-free’ scenario for us within just a few years.
A recent experience has changed my thinking
Just when I thought I had it all stitched up, I hit a small wall in my thinking when I was asked to VicSuper’s Vault of Cash experience recently. I had to ask myself all of the following questions and then was given the opportunity to literally hold my ‘future super’ in my hands. The results were powerful and a real eye-opener (waking call) for me.
The experience really changed the way I’m thinking about my future now.
Experience 1: Questions
Here are some questions I needed to answer while going through the Vault Experience and what you might like to ask yourself:
- Do you know how much super you have right now?
- Have you looked for your super in the past year?
- Do you know where to find your super?
- Have you invested any time at all on your super, which is your future?
- Have you searched for all your super and tried to consolidate your super into one fund?
- Where do you see yourself in 10, 20 or 30 years time?
- Do you know anything about super other than it is a fund you have?
- Do you know how to maximise your super – so it is triple the amount by the time you retire?
- What age are you hoping or planning to retire?
- Do you know how much you need for the lifestyle you’d like?
- If you put extra into super each week do you know how much you’d have?
I was fairly shocked about how slack I’ve been about super (at 44) and struggled to answer many of these questions without making a bunch of excuses.
Experience 2: Time with the psychologist talking about super
These were the excuses I started to blurt out while being interviewed and going through the Vault Experience:
- Other things in my life have taken priority
- I’m a busy mum – I barely get time to finish the laundry
- I’ve had so many jobs in my life – I have no idea where my super is
- I think I’ve got about $55k– but I’m not sure of the exact amount
- I don’t have the time – I’ve just been too busy
- Super is a bland topic – I prefer creative ventures
- I’m using real estate as my super fund
Looking back on this – I’m fairly shocked at the number of excuses I was able to create in such a short amount of time on that couch.
My time on the couch with the psychologist really got me thinking about how lazy I’ve really been about super. Yes, I blog daily in the Savings Room and even do this financial stuff for a living – but you’ve seen the list above and frankly, this list is real for me.
The question that sticks in my mind the most was this one:
On a scale of 1-10 how much do you care about your super?
I was surprised when I answered ‘2’ and followed that up with how ‘creative pursuits are just so much more fun.’ And this got me thinking how my love of ‘fun’ has actually got in the way of the more important stuff.
After answering this question I started to consider how much fun I would have in retirement without money, which would equate to no fun at all. This thought alone, of not being able to continue my current ‘fun,’ was disturbing and motivating at the same time. I’m not someone who likes to slap herself in the face for too long, if you know what I mean.
Once, I uncovered a reason (i.e my current fun) and visualised that same (reason) fun in the future, the answer was remarkably clear:
Do something about super now or risk no fun at all when I’m older.
Experience 3: Analysing my particular super situation
I was introduced to VicSuper’s new awesome tool at www.getsuperactive.com.au, which is designed to help users understand their future needs in terms of retirement.
According to this calculator, if I plan to retire at 65 years of age, I’ll need at least 25 years of money to live on. My life expectancy turned out to be roughly 90 years old, which was a nice surprise – that was 10 years more than I’d hoped for.
If I add just $25 extra each week to Super – I will have, drumroll….
An extra $150,000 when I retire!!!!!
And that kind of money isn’t for the faint-hearted.
More fun for me – yay!
And if my hubby does the same – we’ll have $300,000 extra!
Penina-coladas for everyone who plans to join us on the beach J
Experience 4: Time in the vault
The vault experience was amazing and a real wakeup call for me. I got to hold a total of $150,000 in my hands – my future literally in my own two hands. The experience was an extremely powerful visualisation tool, which has really motivated me to get cracking with putting more into my super now.
The hardest part of the experience?
Giving the money back!
Simply – The next time I want to see that kind of money is when it is all mine.
Other observations I had on the day
- That much money is heavy
- It is not as easy to ‘feel’ what this amount of money is like on a virtual screen, ATM or in an Eftpos card
- It will be hard to forget holding that much money in my hands
- This experience was ‘a keeper’ for life or until I retire richer
- It’s a powerful experience to physically hold a large sum of money
- We don’t usually get to hold our money like this – so it was strange
- Very motivating – just want to make more of it now and to do it while I sleep
Overall feeling on the day
Men in black (security guards) meets money (my future) and the Matrix (the white room) – all wrapped up in one awesome money-loving experience.
Here’s the big lesson I learned from the VicSuper Vault Experience
Life moves fast and if I don’t take action now and put a few more of those dollars away (in the form of extra super contributions) while ‘living in the moment’ I’m going to have ‘a fail’ when I retire.
If I don’t do something soon, I’m not going to live my retirement dreams out and head to the Bahamas with hubby to drink Penina-coladas on the beach. Instead, I’ll be staying home slurping up noodles for dinner in a dark room – because I won’t be able to afford the cost of the soaring electricity bills then!
Simply: I won’t have enough for retirement if I don’t take action this week, today, right now. This is one of those pesky ‘2-minute’ jobs (a phone call to a rep) that I’ll thank myself for later.
The silver lining
You really don’t have to put much more away at all (i.e $25 a week in my case) to create large chunks of wealth in retirement ($150,000 extra).
Thanks VicSuper for a fantastic experience. It was powerful, motivating and ‘a keeper’ for life.
Wishing you a happy retirement
See you all in the Bahamas. The Penina-coladas are on me!