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Monkeys and Retirement Planning

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today at Modern Tightwad!

Sandy at First Gen American came up with this writing experiment to see what bloggers could come up with when asked to “write an article that ties monkeys or other primates to some personal finance lesson or topic.”  This is what came to my mind when I sat down to write.

A few months ago, our friend took Mr. BFS and me on a personal tour of the zoo she works at.  I met a bunch of amazing animals including Mukah the orangutan.

Mukah’s story is sad to me.  He was raised as a pet but his owner completely ignored the diet an orangutan should get and didn’t invest in a proper living environment for him either and didn’t have a pet insurance plan so just didn’t take him in for checkups..  He was nice to Mukah but ignored the financial implications of owning a primate that gets VERY large and was finally reported for abuse since Mukah was living in a much-too-small cage and being fed cooked human food and beer instead of the diversified raw diet he needed.  The owner refused to prepare for Mukah’s future.

This owner isn’t the only man to try to ignore what’s coming.  As I’ve written before, only 69% of eligible workers participate in their 401(k) plans in 2010.  That means 31% of eligible employees aren’t contributing anything at all!

Not only are millions of people passing up free money in the form of 401(k) matching, but as I mentioned here, according to a little side survey that was answered by almost 10,000 people, at least a third of the respondents aren’t saving anything at all for retirement and a further third are saving less than 6% a year! And by the you really should invest in a good budget software to track all this stuff.

How do they plan to survive?  Even if you plan to work until you die, what happens if you just can’t?  With age comes illness and frailty…you are not guaranteed employment forever.

Even if social security provides for them, they will have zero options.  Money buys options.  No money equals no options.  That sounds like a depressing retirement to me.

If we don’t plan for our own futures and save for our own retirements, we will be as dependent on our government and the kindness of others as Mukah.  I’m not speaking for all of you, but I want more control over my future than that poor primate has over his own.

If you are reading this and thinking, “it’s too hard to give up that income” – automate it!  You will not miss it if you don’t see it.  Even if you are saving, make sure it’s enough.  Keep in mind your living expenses and inflation.  I would think it would be better to have too much than too little when I no longer have the capability to make up the difference.

How much do you think is enough for retirement?  Are you planning for your future so you don’t end up as dependent as Mukah?

13 thoughts on “Monkeys and Retirement Planning”

  1. First Gen American

    Great, I hyperlinked my article to yours. Here is the shortlink: https://wp.me/p101OG-nd.

    I like it. I wrote about gorillas and retirement also based on a personal experience.

  2. Everyday Tips

    Poor Mukah! What an idiot that owner is/was.

    Being dependent on others would be awful for me. Yet for others, I don’t think it is any big deal. It is just what you do. But, if the laws change or Social Security goes away, then what will they do? They may be homeless and angry at the world for not taking care of them.

    We are aggressively saving for retirement, but probably don’t have as much saved as we should. We do save the max we can each year, but there was a couple years that we didn’t save much because of other circumstances. Not to mention the hit we took with the stock market…

  3. Little House

    That’s a very nice analogy for retirement. I’m just getting on board with paying myself first and saving a portion towards retirement. I like how you tied this topic in with Mukah, the orangutan.

  4. Invest It Wisely

    I do know that the less expenses I have, the less I’ll need. Since I think by ten years out I’ll really be itching to get out of the rat race, paying off the mortgage by then won’t be a bad idea.

    It’s a shame when people take on responsibilities they can’t handle and others suffer as a result… whether it be beer-fed orangutans or neglected children…

  5. Crystal @ BFS

    @First Gen American, thanks for a fun topic!

    @Everyday Tips, based on what I know about you, you are saving more than enough. The stock market has bounced back for us (our 401(k) and Roth IRA had plummeted but they are in the green again), haven’t you seen big leaps in yours?

    @Little House, thank you.

    @Invest It Wisely, it really is a shame. Nobody deserves to suffer because of their caretaker’s lack of forethought…

  6. Jenna

    I think about retirement every once and while. I think as I get closer to being there I will think of it more often, but I am far from it right now.

  7. Did you know that some companies/plans limit the maximum amount that ‘high earners’ can contribute to their 401K plans based on the number/amount of money being contributed by all employees? This is disconcerting when you are trying to put aside as much as you can. So, encourage your fellow associates to sign up and contribute!

  8. First Gen American

    Now that I have time to comment for real, I realize Everyday Tips took the words right out of my mouth. I have a thing about being independent. I think it’s why I still work today. The thought of relying on someone for my well being is scary (even if it’s someone I trust).

    I also have this feeling that no amount I save will be enough for retirement, although I think that’s not actually true. Although my mom’s retirement savings are meager, she hasn’t had to use them at all..knock on wood.

  9. Money Reasons

    That’s a shame, orangutans are some of the coolest primates!

    You are right, more people should be saving up for retirement.

    The future is tomorrow before you know it!!! And if you aren’t properly prepared, let’s just say I don’t like cat food…

  10. Khaleef @ KNS Financial

    Great article! I like that your take involved a personal story. I’m really enjoying these monkey articles!

  11. Ninja

    Craziness isn’t is!? Can you believe people pass up free money. It’s the MOST important part of investing…taking advantage of a guaranteed return!!!

  12. Crystal @ BFS

    @Jenna, we are 26 years away from it at least and it’s a big part of our daily plans, lol. You could say we just cannot wait to have options…

    @Marie, all new employees in my company are automatically signed up to contribute 2% when they are eligible. They have to log in and opt out if they rather not contribute and sheer laziness keeps it from happening, lol.

    @First Gen American, I feel the same way but try not to think of it too much. Mr. BFS and I can live on very little if necessary, so we are just going to do the best we can.

    @Money Reasons, I think you’ll appreciate this. Punch Debt in the Face had a t-shirt saying contest and my entry is:

    Emergency Fund – $500 a Month
    401(k) – Maximum Matching
    Roth IRA – $5000 a year

    Not Eating Cat Food in Retirement – $Priceless


    @Khaleef, I agree. Sandy L, this was a great idea!

    @Punch Debt, yeah, I have a few posts on my site yelling at people for not signing up at least to get their company’s match…

  13. uniline365

    great post as always …

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