So, you've made a huge mistake. Gone are your 20s, 30s, and 40s. You're, say, 50, and staring down the barrel—you haven't saved any money for retirement.
Maybe you have some debt, too. Maybe you've been undisciplined in the stock market and chopped yourself up. Maybe now you’re thinking it’s too late, that you’re screwed. But guess what? You’re not screwed. Your setback is a fixable problem.
Okay, yeah, you’re going to get social security. But everybody knows that if all you have is social security, you’re bound to have a poor standard of living in retirement.
Those stories about people eating dog food—I mean, they’re kind of urban legend. Maybe you won’t have to resort to dog food, but still, you don't want to count on living on social security exclusively.
There are alternatives. There is a way out.
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The only way you are screwed is if you're retiring now. Too late. I can't help you. But if there's any time on the clock at all, even if it’s just a five-year countdown, you can fix this.
I know many people, including family members, who hit age 45–50 without a dime saved for retirement… and then they had the greatest comeback of all time. Like Tom Brady versus the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
I know someone else who was approaching 50 and didn't have anything saved. But she figured it out and saved and saved and saved. She has a great retirement now. Actually, it’s fantastic. She's a millionaire. Talk about like the biggest comeback of all time.
The point is that you can do it, but there's only one way. There are no shortcuts. You must commit to austerity.
You might have heard the word “austerity” back in 2012 during the European financial crisis. If you remember, Greece was dealing with a debt crisis. Basically, the rest of Europe didn't want to bail out Greece because it would set a bad precedent. So, what Europe decided was that Greece would have to undergo austerity by shrinking its budget, spending less, and earning its way out of the problem.
Greece had a severe depression for several years. The economy contracted significantly. But there's a happy ending: Greece went the austerity route and is growing again.
Now, austerity is a word that is defined as conditions characterized by severity, sternness, or asceticism. And by the way, “asceticism” is one of my favorite words because I like to say I am living like an ascetic… even though that’s not really true.
But still, if you want to retire comfortably, you need to live like an ascetic for a little while. As in, you need to focus on self-discipline by doing things like mastering your debt and saving for the retirement you want.
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