I need a new money plan because I have a new life plan. It’s that simple and yet, that hard.

Photo by Joshua Newton – Unsplash

I’m a little too old to give you a blow-by-blow account of my life. Even I don’t care to revisit all of it. But it’s safe to say that by my late fifties, I can divide it into sections, and because I’m a mom these sections are driven by that. So I’ve got Pre-Child, Actively Raising Child, and Post Child/New Me. (If you are a mom and your life isn’t driven by raising that kid, good for you. Not my experience.)

Every next level of your life will demand a different you.

Leonardo DiCaprio (but it’s the internet so maybe Abraham Lincoln)

I love this quote regardless of who said it. Someone who knew you when you were twenty might re-enter your life at forty and wonder why you’ve changed. Seriously. People do this. They act like you’re frozen in time and you’re still the person who hung out with them at two in the morning in a diner after a bar crawl. When at this moment in your life, you’re just trying to get your kid to go to bed by eight. And the reason you’re not out at a diner after many drinks is because your life has changed, so you responded accordingly.

That’s what I did. My Pre-Child life involved a business in the entertainment industry where I left the house at eight in the evening to go to dinner and then hear live music. I took naps in the afternoon. It was like that.

Then I had the kid. He’s wonderful. But he seriously messed up my fun. Sorry. I cannot sugar coat that and tell you that it was joyous to trade in free time to raise him. Sometimes, maybe. But I won’t get on the Mommy Train and say it was all fulfilling. Only some of it.

But during the Actively Raising Child stage, time goes on, the kid gets bigger, needs me less, and I get bits and pieces of my life back. No, I’m not leaving the house at eight to go to dinner. But I’m able to read without being interrupted or I go to sleep knowing he won’t show up by my bed and crawl in at two in the morning. It’s the little things.

Last year he graduated from high school. While I’ll always be his mother and he will need me, I’m now in the Post Child/New Me stage. This is the part of the story where we clap and drink.

So new stage, new me, right?

The New Me has a lot to wade through. The traditional articles on finance and lifestyle will tell you that I’m nearing retirement. I’ll be able to buy a little single level patio home and golf. And if I’m not ready to do that…then I’m screwed and I should just go be a greeter at Walmart.

There are no other choices according to the financial gurus. Trust me, I’ve looked.

The prevailing attitude about money assumes we all followed the same game plan and are sitting on a 401K (pensions are so last generation).

Price Waterhouse Cooper says one in four Americans have no retirement savings. This particular article goes on to say this means all U.S. households with heads of households between ages 24 and 65 have a total of $3.68 trillion less in savings than they should for retirement. If you’re 25 and reading that, you’re thinking about getting in high gear and moving back in with your folks to save money. If you’re 65 and reading this, you’re thinking of being homeless. Neither of these scenarios is appealing.

Maybe the article is not designed to cause panic, but every time I read a mainstream piece about retirement it manages to do two things: tell me how nobody is saving and then give me an astronomical number one needs to reach before they retire.

Perhaps it is designed that way so you’ll immediately see the error in your ways that caused you to fall short of savings, like paying your medical bills, or a payment on a car you need to get to work. Or maybe the articles are designed to make you run to your local brokerage firm and pay them to help you invest with them. The latter could be a good idea if you actually had the money to invest, right?

Yes, the information is factually correct. Yes, we need to save more.

But it’s not the entire picture.

Buried somewhere in so many personal finance articles is the part where wages have not kept up with the cost of living. The part that tells us that minimum wage, had it kept up with inflation, would now be just over $24 an hour.

Earning more money is important.

No, I’m not asking you to send me money. Well, you could if you wanted…

Seriously, I’ve spent enough time beating myself up over not being a high earner, or not working full-time. That’s a different post. My personal situation involves a BiPolar diagnosis. I’ve got my issues. I own them. But I’ll be damned if I take on more shame because I didn’t meet the goal as appointed by a retirement writer. I mean, who even gets to decide the magic number? Everyone’s old age looks different.

So as I enter this Post Child/New Me stage, I’m ramping up my earning skills. I have them. I just have to dust them off. For the last twenty years my income has been through working for others.

I hate working for someone.

My Pre Child era was built on working for my husband and me. It was difficult. But ultimately it was far more rewarding than the soul killing work I’ve done for employers. Don’t even get me started on staff meetings.

The money plan is simply to earn more of it. This year is about establishing income streams. It’s all about becoming the person I need to be for this new stage of life.

I hope you come along with me. It won’t always be pretty and I will fail. A lot. But we could all possibly learn something besides the notion that we’re losers if we didn’t work on the hamster wheel and save enough.