I know someone who has this burning goal to have perfect teeth in old age. It’s a bit unique. She is the only person I have ever met who brushes with a long-term view.
For most of us though, as soon as we could hold a toothbrush, we were taught how to use it and it became the thing to do. We all just get on with it automatically.
Now you wouldn’t typically think of brushing teeth and stashing money as having much to do with each other, but stay with me – they are both (with the exception of my friend, apparently) based on habit.
Just as no one would try to teach a four year old to brush their teeth by explaining to them how grateful they’ll be when they’re 50 or 80, it’s hard to learn to save by thinking about some future far away. Saving just needs to become a habit.
Many of us, thanks to KiwiSaver and other workplace schemes, already have the practice of paying ourselves first. Automatic payments tend to be out of sight, out of mind – we don’t miss the money because we don’t see it. And we can get excellent results this way.
There’s a great overseas example of how, with each pay rise employees received, their savings rates were automatically lifted as well. Before their budgets could expand to the new level of income – what’s known as “lifestyle inflation” – the extra money they were receiving was given a long-term job to do. And it worked like a charm.
So “setting and forgetting” has its upside – it’s great to keep things humming in the background.
But here’s the thing: every once in a while we need to check in and make sure that we’re doing enough. Because much of our lives can be like a submarine on autopilot, at times it’s worth putting up the periscope to see what’s ahead. There’s no point charting a course for somewhere you don’t want to be!
Note the massive difference you can achieve, for instance, by raising your KiwiSaver contributions from 3% to 4%, and especially up to 8%. On a $50,000 per annum salary over 30 years, we’re talking about close to $133,000 more for you!
I promise you: this is not as painful as a trip to the dentist.
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