Something weird happens as you get older: time itself goes faster and faster.
You don’t believe me? You will. It’s a law of nature: the passage of time accelerates as you draw nearer to the end of your life.
I first noticed this as I was approaching middle age, probably in my early thirties. It struck me that when I was a kid, an hour seemed like an eternity. That was one reason why, when offered a choice of whether or not to take piano lessons, I inadvisedly declined: the whole hour the neighbor kid had to spend every day at practice filled my little heart with horror. By the age of 30, an hour felt like a half-hour, barely enough time to get anything done.
Now that I’m old, an hour passes in a minute, sometimes even a second. It goes by unnoticed. Day by day, there’s never enough time to get through all the things I want or need to do.
Yesterday SDXB remarked that he’d been in the Sun City house almost ten years. He moved out of the neighborhood shortly after I moved into my present home. How can that be? I couldn’t possibly have lived here an entire decade!
It confirms what one of my former graduate assistants said the other day. She’d checked in from the Midwest to say she was applying for a swell new job and could use a recommendation. She’s now a mother about to enter her second marriage, working in a publishing house. “I can hardly believe it’s been ten years since I started at GDU,” she said.
Ten years? It hasn’t even been ten months, kid!
But no. I moved into this house at the same time I moved over to GDU’s main campus to found the editorial office that employed her. If SDXB moved to Sun City ten years ago, then she went to work for me ten years ago, and indeed, I bought my present house ten years ago.
SDXB reflected that he and his former wife married over 50 years ago. My ex-DH and I would have been married 45 years this December, had I not run away to the Outback.
What does this have to do with you young pups and your money? A lot.
Before you know it, you’ll be old. At that point, only a few moments will remain in your life, or so it will seem to you. The relativity of time makes it seem like old age is a long way off. But it’s not.
For your money, it means…
• Plan early and often for retirement.
• Start saving for the future now.
• Even if you’re just starting, save more than the standard amount toward retirement.
• Put savings in several instruments: a 401(k) or 403(b) if your employer matches contributions, or if not, your own standard IRA; a Roth IRA; and ordinary brokerage accounts. Use non-tax-deferred instruments as well as deferred.
• Pay off the roof over your head as quickly as you can.
For the quality of your life it means…
• Do not waste your life in a job you hate. If you’re unhappy on the job, search for other work.
• Make a plan, one that will guide you in the direction of contentment, if not security. But do not marry your plan—stay flexible and open to new opportunities and ideas.
• Get yourself educated in something that will open the door into reasonably un-obnoxious work. Happiness is more important than money, on the job as well as in your personal life.
• Take care of your health. Eat well, exercise, and spend time in activities you find pleasurable.
• Free yourself, to the extent possible, of the toxic people and situations in your life.
• Engage in altruism. The people who are happiest in their careers have relatively low-paying jobs that help others—members of the clergy rank number one in job satisfaction. If you can’t help others for a living, do it as a volunteer.
Enjoy it while you’ve got it.