By Adriana Reyneri
Youth is wasted on the young, but so is financial planning advice. I know this from rubbing shoulders with the 20-somethings populating my office. A young colleague whom we’ll call Rupert, because that is not his real name and it sounds funny, shrugged off the opportunity to participate in the company 401(k). Why? Something about dealing with retirement when it comes up.
A boring, but well-intentioned lecture on my part, along the lines of “Look, you don’t want to end up like me,” prompted Rupert to action. He didn’t open a 401(k), but he did insert his ear buds and start listening to music. I felt like the tax accountant played by Steve Carell in the movie “Date Night.” He earnestly tries to convince a couple to invest their tax refund in a Roth IRA, but all they can think about is blowing the windfall on a tropical vacation offering lots of isolated beaches.
We older people know the importance of saving, the magic powers of compounding, the depressing realization that our lives contain a shortage of both. We don’t need the latest EBRI study, which tells us 58 percent of working Americans have failed to calculate how much money they will need in retirement, and that 32 percent worry they haven’t saved enough.
A group of professional worriers, the Society of Actuaries, warns us that nearly half of baby boomers have no plan to cover the possibility they’ll live longer than expected, and our research shows that even lots of Millionaires (47 percent) worry about having enough money to last their golden years.
We “mature investors” desperately want the young to learn from our mistakes, put away 10 percent of their paychecks every month and, for heavens sake, stop going to Starbucks. If I had $5 for every barista drink purchased by my young co-workers I could take my own tropical vacation - I mean, buy an annuity.
Older folks interviewed by Millionaire Corner in May were nearly unanimous in their agreement that beginning investors should put away a percentage of their salary every month. Nearly 95 percent said those wet behind their ears should take full advantage of their employers’ 401(k) plans. (See, Rupert, I told you so!) The retirees also put a big premium on financial literacy and understanding investment risk.
So, why the disconnect? We, older and wiser, have a better idea of what and what not to do. We try to sow our pearls of wisdom. The young ignore us, spend lots of money on beer and have way more fun than we do.
People in their 20s must still be in that phase where they feel immortal. But, I’m telling you, that makes no sense at all. Haven’t they heard of longevity risk? People who live forever are way more likely to outlive their retirement nest egg than investors like me who are counting on reaching greener pastures on the other side. Really, the young people today!