It is a cliché but somewhere between turning 40 and turning 41, I began to look at my finances and think, is it really possible I’ve worked for 20 years and still don’t own a home, or have nearly enough retirement savings?
Suddenly, all the stuff my dad has been saying to me since I graduated college is just ringing in my ears. If only I listened sooner! But I am working on fixing this. I know that there is a lot of waste to be cut out. I live in NYC with kids and a dog. I am buying ridiculous things all the time, coming home from work tired, ordering food and putting vacations on my credit card.
My first big accomplishment: I immediately shaved $123 a month off my expenses doing something that was so simple and obvious, yet so hard for no good reason. I said goodbye to the YMCA member ship that I have sentimentally clung to for 15 years. Though not sentimentally enough to actually use.
$123 was the cost of a family membership. So I was not only paying for me not to use the gym, I was paying for my husband and children not to use it either. For YEARS! This means I have spent almost $7,400 over the last 5 years in the service of keeping open the illusion that I am going to go to the gym.
Yes, I went sometimes. Yes, a Y membership is important for signing your city kids up for classes sometimes, because where I live, YMCA registration days are like Mecca during the Hajj and if you’re not a member (members register early), you are not getting your kid into that dumb soccer class. Sorry, go move to the suburbs if you are not into approaching your kids swim class schedule like getting tickets to Hamilton. Every 2 months.
$7,400. That amounts to almost 10% of my entire retirement savings after nearly two decades of working. It is very, very bad. But, it’s done. Over. My lesson: cancel your gym membership if you don’t use it and add that money to your retirement savings. Gym membership canceled? Check. IRA opened? check. Boom.