We live in a day-to-day economy.  Lots of people are surviving paycheck-to-paycheck and paying more for healthcare costs or dealing with impending furloughs.  The lack of money can send an entire family into a depressive spiral from which it is almost impossible to recover.  Few young people are interested in saving today for their retirement tomorrow because they worry about being able to eat tonight.  Even middle age folk have a tough time tucking away some money for when they are no longer willing or able to work.

I received an interesting email that demonstrated a financial metric that proves many of us could be saving money for our retirement if we only gave up a few our our daily trifles in exchange for purchasing long-term security:

The daily specialty coffee from the local coffee stand costs about $3.95, depending on where you live in the U.S. If you got one every day of the week for about 40 weeks out of the year for the typical 35 year employment span between ages 25 and 60, it would cost you about $27,650 over that 35 years.

The formula looks like this:

Coffee or Latte — $3.95 X 5 = $19.75 X 40 = $790 X 35 = $27,650
Energy shot — $3.99 X 5 = $19.95 X 40 = $798 X 35 = $27,930
Muffin — $3 X 5 = $15 X 40 = $600 X 35 = $21,000
Lunch — $8 X 5 = $40 X 40 = $1,600 X 35 = $56,000

If you were to put the total of all these items into your 401(k) or Roth IRA or any other type of retirement investment vehicle every year for 35 years and you earned a minimum of 3 percent interest every year on that money, you’d have an extra $246,560 in your retirement account at the end of that 35 years.

Between 1970 and 2006, the annual return rate of the S&P 500 was 11.5 percent. At that interest rate, at the end of 35 years, workers would have an additional $1,792,373 in their retirement accounts.

Are we able to give up our lunch and our daily shot of Joe to give us a better retirement?  Probably not, but the math makes it a tempting notion — but how many people have the discipline and stamina to save like that every single day for 35 years?

A lot of us are resigned to the fact that there will be no retirement. We’ll work until we drop because we can’t afford the alternative — to live poor and wanting while idle.


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