I remember intentionally eating kale, for the first time, about ten years ago. I had had it before on my plate as a garnish or mixed in with other greens, but I had never actually gone out and bought a head of it to intentionally eat for the health benefits.
I heard that kale was a “superfood” that would help prevent a wide array of health issues, and I wanted to experience all of the supposed benefits. I learned about this simple way to pack a high dose of nutrient dense calories into my life, and I have been eating kale ever since.
As I was sautéing some kale with olive oil to go with dinner the other night, I started thinking about the similarities between saving for retirement and eating this dark green leafy vegetable. Here are 5 reasons that saving for retirement is a lot like eating kale.
1) You Might Not Like It
I’m going to admit something. I don’t like kale. I just tolerate it. It’s tough, stringy, and bitter, especially if you don’t cook it well. I still buy it though, because it is good for me, and it’s affordable.
There are a million other uses that I would rather spend the $10 a month on, like wine or chocolate to name a few, but I’m investing in my future by taking care of myself and giving my body the fuel it needs to stay healthy for a long time.
Retirement is the same. It’s hard to set large chunks of money aside for retirement, especially when you could really use the money now, or could think of about million other more enjoyable uses for the money. Setting money aside for retirement isn’t exactly a fun or enjoyable use of your money, but your future self will thank you for prioritizing your expenses to set yourself up for a comfortable retirement.
2) It’s Hard to Visualize the Long Term Benefits
Kids are told all the time, “eat your vegetables, they’ll keep you healthy and strong.” We would all rather eat an ice cream cone than our kale, though. It’s hard to visualize long-term priorities in the face of more pleasant short-term solutions.
It can be the same with retirement savings. If you receive a tax refund, you could use it to go on a phenomenal vacation or use it to max out your retirement account. As much as you would rather go on vacation, you know that you’re doing something incredible for yourself to secure yourself financially for the future.
3) You Can’t Rely on Just the One Thing
Eating kale will help keep you healthy, but only if you do it in conjunction with an overall healthy lifestyle and make other health-minded decisions throughout your life. Likewise, saving for retirement will only be beneficial if you make solid financial decisions in conjunction with your retirement savings.
You wouldn’t be able to survive off of just kale, and you won’t be able to survive off of just one retirement account. You need to have a wide range to your financial health plan so that you aren’t left trying to sit on a one-legged retirement stool.
4) There’s an Individual Best Way
My favorite way to eat kale is baked into crisps with sea salt, but someone else might think that’s a pretty gross or ineffective way to get the nutrients. It’s just like retirement savings though. I do what I can to get the most benefits in a way I know that I will be able to manage long-term.
Some people may want to focus ways to have an early retirement and others will need to even a few years longer than most to retire comfortably. Whether you’re maxing out your accounts and have streams of passive income, or doing what you can afford and hoping for social security to fill in the cracks, everyone has to do whatever they can.
5) Not Enough People Embrace the Benefits
I eat kale because it’s good for me, just like I save for retirement because it’s good for me. Because I take an active interest in my health, and I take an active interest in my long-term finances, I will hopefully be set for a comfortable and healthy life, both financially and otherwise, in retirement.
Unfortunately, I will be in the minority, if I have enough saved to live comfortably during retirement. Almost 68% of Americans aren’t saving for retirement at all.
I probably wouldn’t have started eating kale if it hadn’t been unveiled as this great superfood. I also wouldn’t be saving for retirement if I hadn’t learned how important it is from the news, articles, and different financial websites. More people need to take action and start saving.
Do What You Can
Just like someone who knows vegetables are good for them, but chooses to eat chips instead, we all have areas in our life that need improvement. No matter whether it’s life, circumstance, or misaligned priorities getting in the way, more people should start doing what they can to embrace the benefits of saving now for their retirement. The earlier you start saving, the more you will have to lean on in your twilight years. Even starting out by just saving $20 per paycheck to put into an IRA, is more than you would have before.
And start eating kale, it really is good for you.
Do find it hard to set money aside for retirement?