7 Retirement Lies You’re Telling Yourself

Don’t you wish there was a detector that would tell you every time you told yourself a lie?

“I can lose 30 pounds before vacation.” DING!
“I’m not really speeding. I’m just keeping up with the flow of traffic.” DING!
“I can finish this massive project in no time.” DING!
“If I don’t think about retirement, I won’t have to deal with it.” DING! DING! DING!

That’s only one of the lies people tell themselves about retirement. Here are a few more—with a big dose of truth to remember.

Lie #1: It’s too late for me to save for retirement.

Truth: No matter how old you are, you can still make changes to provide for a secure financial future. However, it may mean making some tough decisions and some serious lifestyle changes. If you’re in your 50s or 60s, you’ll need to consider selling your home, purchasing something smaller, and using the equity to put toward retirement.

Lie #2: I have plenty of time.

Truth: In all of my years coaching and speaking, I’ve never had someone tell me, “Man, I wish I had waited to save for retirement.” But do you know what I hear all the time? “I wish I had learned this stuff when I was younger!” Let’s do the math: If you invest $5,500 a year (the contribution limit for an IRA this year) beginning at age 45, you’d have $346,000 when you turn 65. If you had started saving when you were 25, you’d have over $2.6 million.

Lie #3: I don’t have any money to put toward retirement.

Truth: You have more money than you think you do. Look at your typical week. I bet I can find a few places where you can tighten up your budget. For example, how many times a week do you grab a soft drink or other beverage—coffee, tea, smoothie—from a restaurant or store? Probably more than you think. If you switched to water or brought a drink from home, you could be saving major bucks to put toward retirement. And that’s just one area. Don’t get me started on expensive cable packages or through-the-roof cell phone plans.

Lie #4: I deserve to have fun with my money now!

Truth: You can enjoy life now and save for the future at the same time. Saving for retirement doesn’t mean you have to reuse tea bags and cut your own hair (well, in my case . . .). However, saving for retirement does mean you make a few sacrifices now for the payoff later. Taking a more modest vacation now means you can enjoy that dream vacation when you retire.

Lie #5: I need to get my kids through college first.

Truth: Your retirement savings comes first, not last. There’s a 100% chance you’ll retire someday. What are the chances your kids will graduate from college? I’ll bet it’s not 100%! Get my point? Yes, you want to help the kids out with college, but they have other ways to pay besides the Bank of Mom and Dad. They can apply for scholarships or work their way through school. Studies tell us kids take school more seriously if they have skin in the game and their own money on the line.

Lie #6: I’ll lose money if I invest.

Truth: If you don’t invest, you’re losing money. Let’s imagine for a second that you decide to put your savings in a no-risk money market account that earns you less than 1% interest per year. If you do that, you’re losing money. Why? Because the average rate of inflation is 3%. You’re losing 2% of your money a year. Besides, when you look at the 70-plus-year history of the stock market (or at least since the merger of S&P in 1941), you’ll find that 100% of the 15-year periods in the market’s history have made money.

Lie #7: I’m planning to work in retirement.

Truth: You may retire sooner than you think—or want. About 50% of people retire earlier than they had planned. Many of them have health problems that won’t allow them to work full time anymore. Rather than focusing on what you might be able to do in the future, focus your energy on what you can do now. Get on track with your budget, get (and stay!) out of debt, and start saving as much as you can for retirement.

Here’s one more bonus lie: “I can’t do this.” DING! Yes you can! You can change your retirement future. You can save more. You can make changes in your spending habits. You can get out of debt. You can face retirement with confidence rather than fear.

The only thing holding you back is those lies you believe.

Start believing in yourself instead and you’ll see your retirement dream become reality.