When I was a junior in college, my parents gave me a 1963 VW Beetle (no, it wasn’t even close to being new). I don’t remember how many miles she had…I think they paid $350. This definitely was my first love. There were no cup holders, heated seats or power windows. Just a fabulous rubber sun roof, the trunk in the front and the engine in the back. She had good traction in the snow but I did have to run an extension cord outside so I could position a warm light bulb on the engine overnight. This guaranteed she’d start when it was below 32 degrees. That car got me from Columbia, MO to Laredo, TX and then to Dayton, OH before we parted ways. She still ran great…there were just too many holes in the floor and I was worried the black tape wouldn’t keep my foot from hitting the pavement. Other than different bumpers, no roof rack and no blue on the wheels, she looked a lot like this adorable 1973 Beetle:
I hadn’t thought about those early days for ages until I came across this photo last week. Yes, Beetles still have their trunk in the front and engine in the back but it’s just not the same. $350 isn’t even a car payment today although it might fill the tank on a Beetle for a couple of months. Inflation can really mess things up. Where many in the Greatest Generation had pensions to help fund their retirement, Baby Boomers and Generations X, Y and beyond must do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to retirement planning. If you’ve been lucky enough to have a 401(k) or similar plan through work, I hope you’re enrolled and feeding that puppy every morsel you can through payroll deduction. If you haven’t established a Roth IRA, which grows tax-free, consider doing so if you are eligible.
Somewhere along the way, the rules of the game got changed. Employers didn’t want the expense of providing a pension. It was cheaper to shift the burden of retirement savings onto their workers’ shoulders. It is, after all, all about the stock price and paying upper management big bucks. Things sure have changed.
But one thing that’s remained the same is the basics of generating wealth. Start yesterday. Save every dollar you can and do it on a regular basis. Keep an eye on fees, expenses and taxes. Taxes. Have you started on your 2012 Form 1040? Taxes are a constant…they’re still here and they keep changing. So keep doing what you’ve been doing. Just try to do a little more. Until next time, here’s to good planning!
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