My friends and colleagues either think I am a financial genius or an unrealistic dreamer. I, of course, know that I am neither. I’m just someone who has decided to Finish Rich.
Because of Smart Women Finish Rich, when I began first job last fall (after many years of grad school), the first thing I did was to max out my 403(b), which came to 22% of my annual income. My employer began contributing 10% of my base income (9% of my annual) from day one. I also decided to use part of my extra summer income to max out my IRA contributions (in a Roth IRA), another 5% of my income. Because this planning and automatic saving was such a rush, I began putting another 7% of my monthly income into automatically-deducted taxable investments (stocks, bonds, and CDs). Then I began adding 10% to my monthly mortgage payment (something you talk about in The Automatic Millionaire). I felt that I was not only financially in control, but that I was finally focusing on money as part of my greater personal value system.
Now, here’s the kicker. Two months ago my university benefits office sent out a memo that they were adding a new retirement plan to their portfolio (a 457(b), since we are a state school). Most of my colleagues went around saying that it didn’t make any difference to them, since they didn’t max out the accounts they already had. I, on the other hand, got ridiculously excited (see what you’ve done to me!). I ran home, looked at my FinishRich Inventory Planner and financial files (which were, of course, so neatly arranged by the The FinishRich File Folder System) and decided that, although it might cut down on some of my frivolous fun spending right now, I could/should save even more. The next day I walked into my benefits office, asked whether I was correct in understanding that because of the rules of the 457(b) I could max out both accounts (answer: Yes!), and began maxing out my 457(b), another 22% of my income.
It is 6 months since I began my job, and at the age of 28, I know that I will never worry about money. Sure, sometimes my extra spending money seems a bit tight, but I just take out my Inventory, think about my values, and head to the library or to the dollar theater. I am saving 56% of my $60K income (65% if you include my employer contributions). I have no debt, except my mortgage which I will pay off early. I still travel, go out with my friends, and do all of the other things I always have — I just, subconsciously at this point, think about how these “now” expenses fit into the greater plan. Although I love my career, I also know that I will be able to retire early if I want to, and that I will have no trouble providing for my (future) family. Thank you, David, for giving me control over my life!