One of my favorite Aesop’s fables is about the grasshopper and the ant. The ant works all summer to have enough food in the winter. The grasshopper plays instead. Starving, he asks the ant for food…but is scoffed at for being lazy.
Working hard now to prepare for the future is even in the Bible, Proverbs 6-8: Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.
Many people prefer to be grasshoppers. Out of laziness, hedonism, or lack of knowledge? They work as little as possible while having as much fun as possible, blindly trusting that somehow they’ll have enough money to support themselves when they’re old. They may buy things they want but can’t afford and dig themselves deeper into credit card debt. Some do work hard, but spend whatever they earn, perhaps thinking they’ll start saving “someday.”
Given today’s economy, others who are willing to work hard enough to be ants may still find themselves seeming like grasshoppers because they lost their jobs, can’t find a good paying job, the value of their property dropped, etc.
On the other hand, those who are ant-like may work so hard they rarely relax or have much fun…maybe because they don’t know how to, or fear that without their jobs they either wouldn’t know what to do with themselves or would lack personal worth. Or maybe they truly enjoy work more than play.
The question becomes: how much is enough? How do we save for retirement while enjoying life now? Many of us don’t even know the minimum we’ll need. Are we afraid the amount will be too large, seem unattainable? If you search “baby boomers not have enough to retire,” thousands of articles come up…and many say that a significant number don’t even have a retirement plan.
I think knowledge, even if it’s not what you want to hear, is power. If we set goals, we can do our best to prepare.