I read The Millionaire Next Door over a decade ago. That book had a big impact on the way I think about money and my own dreams for retirement. One of the things I was most fascinated with in the book was the study into what happens to children of millionaires as they move into adulthood. Despite growing up with wealth, not all the children of the millionaires in the book grew up to be happy, responsible adults.
Some of the millionaires felt they had worked so hard for their money, they wanted their children to have it a bit easier. They gave their kids just about everything they could ever want and continued to support them long after they flew the nest. On average, those kids didn't do so well for themselves as adults. However, the kids of millionaires that just received the basics, including whatever education they wanted to pursue, did much better, growing into well-adjusted, self-reliant adults.
I remember when I was about 14 or 15, I had my eye on a stereo system that was on sale at, of all places, Thrifty's drugstore. For $89 I would get the tuner, turntable and speakers. That was a lot of money but I was determined, saving my allowance and baby-sitting money until I had enough. It took me six weeks to save enough. Two things happened during that six weeks. First, the store kept reducing the price so that by the time I had enough money, it was only $59. Second, I spent six weeks dreaming about getting that stereo. It felt so good when I finally walked down to that store and made my purchase.
I probably wouldn't even remember that stereo now if my parents had simply bought it for me when I first started lusting after it. It meant something to me to have saved and dreamed about it, so much that I still remember it today. There's something important about dreaming and working for what you want.
There's also something important about not getting everything you want. Tim wrote a great post this week about not really wanting everything we want. It wouldn't be fun, and it wouldn't mean anything if we just got everything we wanted. And that applies to how many people approach retirement:
"They plan to have everything they want in their retirement. They want two trips a year, a summer cottage, a bigger boat…and so on. They build a fantasy of what they think they want, but here is the kicker: the don’t even really want it. They just think they do."
It's a great post, be sure to go read the rest of it.
This is a post from Retirement: A Full-Time Job