Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Pot of Gold

                
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
I have been thinking about my 401K.  For 2015, the maximum is $18,000.  I want to contribute the maximum money into my 401K.  I have never done that before. 

When I was young, just out of school, I had a life-changing  experience.  I was laid off.  The economy was bad and it was difficult to get another job.  I was down, literally, to my last dollar.   I was living on unemployment and my savings.  Eventually, my savings ran out and all I had was my last dollar.  I was worried.  I borrowed some money from my ex-girlfriend -- proof that it pays to be nice to your Ex.  The next week, I got a job and paid her back.  Lucky.

The experience scared me.  Saving money became important.  I read financial planning books and followed their advice to the letter.  I made a budget and I carried a little book to record every expenditure just to be sure that I would not forget any.   Eventually, computers came along and I transferred my budget to a VisiCalc spreadsheet. 

VisiCalc allowed me to go berserk.  So much easier to record and track how I spent my money.  Every penny of my pay check was accounted for and reconciled to the expenditure.  From big bills like rent, to the weekly bill for groceries, to the twenty-five cents for a pack of gum.  The spreadsheet summarized each expense by week, month and, of course, year.  I plotted out graphs of income and expense flows.  Today, I no longer have a spreadsheet.  Time does heal.

Unless I win the lottery, I will never own a Mercedes-Benz or live in a mansion.   Maxing out my 401K is my personal achievement statement, the same as owning a Mercedes or living in a mansion.  It is a confirmation that I had a great year, that I have made so much money that I have excess money to put into my 401K, and that I officially became a financial success.

Truth is that I don't have the money to max out my 401K.  I suppose I can find extra monies by cutting my expenses.  I can give up my expensive smart phone and use a phone that only makes calls.  I can certainly give up my cable.  I can give up wonderful Starbucks coffee and drink cheaper and horrible Cantina coffee.  I can give up tasty food and live on bread and water for the next year.  It is an awful way to live but I must stuff my 401K with money and not my belly with tasty pastry.   

Now where did I put that VisiCalc?