I am the only person I know, who, in their late 20’s, gets short of breath (in the bad way) when thinking of retirement savings. I can’t help it.
My co-worker Courtney called me neurotic as I sat fidgeting in her office chair waxing poetic about long-lost private-sector pensions. I recently found out about how lush teachers’ pensions and benefits can be, and have been nursing a mean jealous streak ever since (and the urge to ditch it all and become a teacher). I tell Matt things like, “We need a Vanguard account!” (Note: I know nothing about mutual funds or Vanguard accounts…I just like to say it). Matt tells me to, essentially, shut-up. “We have 40 more years to figure this out,” he says. The thought of working 40 more years is almost as depressing as our bleak financial future. Sometimes he says, “You might not even be around 40 years from now, so quit worrying.” (Lovely.) He follows that up with, “We’re young – who do you know who puts money into their 401(k) like we do?!” to which I reply, “EVERYONE!” and bury my face in my pillow. In a moment of panic this week I upped my 401(k) contribution from 10 to 15% and demanded Matt do the same. I also like to say we need a Roth IRA. I have NO IDEA what a Roth IRA is but I heard Suze Orman talking about them, and I want one.
Two weeks ago I announced, over omlettes, that we needed a budget. “We need to control our spending!” I huffed. Mid-chomp, Matt said, “What spending? I don’t buy anything,” to which I replied, “Well, I do.” We then logged on to view my credit card statement and, after subtracting things like food and gas, I was left with what I spent on a skirt and dress and some odds and ends I picked up at Target. I replied that they were obviously necessities and they didn’t count, but the crux of my argument was that, “You’re a guy; you wouldn’t understand”, which I don’t think he bought. So much for our budget.
I wouldn’t call us particularly thrifty, and we’re definitely not spend thrifts. We’re just…normal. I will forever be a champion of economy cars and the thought of having a Coach bag just ticks me off, but I love going out to eat and furnishing our home (relatively cheaply, of course). And damnit, if that frilly skirt is $100 bucks but I swear, swear, swear I’ll wear it all the time and I love it and I won’t buy another thing that month, then YES, I’m buying it. Look, it’s all about balance. And a good skirt.
I bring this up because I also worry about medical expenses. For example, like many of my surgical Crohn’s brethren, I have to bear a monthly B12 shot for the rest of my life. The negotiated rate with my insurance carrier (I am on a high-deductible plan, so I essentially pay in-full until I meet my deductible, but all “in-full” prices are the negotiated and preferred cost through the carrier) is $156. One hundred and fifty-six dollars for a shot of …a vitamin. Per month. Negotiated rate. The “negotiated” rate for Pentasa, my maintenance drug, hovers slightly under $500 a month. So, yes, I worry about money. And insurance. I think I should.
It is a bad thing to have Crohn’s and be a neurotic worrier. Stress makes my symptoms worse. And duh, stress also inhibits your ability to conceive. Last month my ob/gyn told me I need to reduce my stress. This statement elevated my stress. Couldn’t she see that was futile? That I’m having trouble with work, with trying to had a kid, and by golly, with the fact we have no retirement savings and no solid plan in place?! I thought that but all I said was, “Okay.” That’s pretty much how it always goes.
Matt will often sit me down and say, “What can I do to help you relax?” The first answer is always food. Tortilla chips or chocolate are often involved – but that really goes without saying. After that, it gets a bit grey. I’d like to believe I’m the least high-strung member of my family – it’s in the genes. But I ask for impossible things. Past answers have been, “New intestines and/or immune system”, “my own dog hotel business” (no laughing!), “you making 200k a year or winning the lottery”, and “a 30 minute back rub” (trust me, the last one is impossible). He’ll respond with, “Well, what about one of those puddings in the fridge?” “With whipped cream on top?” I’ll ask. “Yes.” “Deal.”
Now if you’ll excuse me. I have to go study for a test I have tonight that I’m worried about.
PS: You may have noticed (well, probably not, who am I kidding?!) that my posts have been less frequent. I’m enrolled in a class that will hopefully prepare me for a professional certification exam I’m taking in May. It would be a lie to say I have no time to post, but I love to watch t.v. on my time off. I adore t.v. I am nothing but an uneducated commoner, what can I say?! Posts until the end of May might be less frequent, but don’t worry, they’ll still be filled of my complaining (about health care, money, oh, you name it!) and of course food (that’s a given!).