When I say the word Leftovers, most of you will probably think of the extra portion of last night’s supper, that you package and take to work with you for lunch tomorrow. That’s surely the most common usage of the word. But I want to talk about leftovers, in a sense, with respect to your retirement.
You work your whole adult life, trying to provide for yourself and your family. You enjoy the fruits of your labor along the way, and hopefully you set aside some for the future when you’re old and unable to work any longer. But you can’t just set aside some of those fruits and hope they will still be edible 40 years from now, so you make plans to preserve those assets and have them accessible in your old age.
If you’ve made it through that pained metaphor, I’m not talking about literal fruit, nor am I suggesting you start canning your cash. But if you go down the traditional path of spending every dollar you make, you’ll be lucky to have rotten fruit when retirement (voluntary or forced) comes along.
I want to pause for a second to talk about the guy we have dubbed “Angry Leftovers Man.” He read a post from the incomparable Piggy over at Bitches Get Riches about leftovers. As with most blogs, the owner of said blog must give the green light on comments from anonymous strangers, and this guy kept leaving disparaging comments about anyone who eats leftovers. Angry Leftovers Man (hereafter ALM) said we must all be poor, that leftover food belongs in the garbage, and no self-respecting adult would consciously choose to eat what was presumably perfectly acceptable food before it got tossed into some Tupperware. Obviously this guy was off his rocker.
Being the Fabulous Bitches that they are, they didn’t greenlight his comment. ALM must’ve had very strong internal convictions about the decrepit delectable, because he kept coming back every few months to write a similar retort. As this continued, the Humble Bitches told the story on Twitter, but didn’t give ALM the satisfaction of getting his comment approved until approximately the 5th time he left a comment on the post. Mind you, this was nearly a year after the original posting date, and he was still coming back to trash the concept of leftovers, so he was REALLY convinced he was right. Previous commenters saw his comment and proceeded to dismantle his argument line by line.
The story spawned it’s own parody Twitter account. In jest, the ruse keeps going on Twitter, and people tag this account when they sit down to enjoy their delicious leftover meals. We’re not sure that anyone has ever discovered who the true ALM was, but several people know who runs the parody account.
Meal prepping tactics
The concept of meal prepping and batch cooking seems to get a lot of interest these days. As I write this on a Sunday night, I can imagine half of the personal finance community spent a chunk of their day whipping up their meals for the upcoming week. This cuts down on the time spent cooking every day during the hectic workweek, cuts down on the amount of cleaning necessary by cooking larger batches, and certainly has a cost-cutting component as well.
What if we took the concept of batch cooking and front-loading the work, and applied it to preparing for our retirement? What would that look like?
One, it would probably mean a little bit of sacrifice today. With batch cooking and meal prep, it means sacrificing a few hours on a precious Sunday to buy you some extra time throughout the week. With retirement planning, it means working to set up additional revenue streams that will grow over the years and provide for a secure retirement when your body can no longer do the work it did in your working career.
Two, there’s probably some front-loading of costs involved. A grocery trip to buy a week’s worth of food is a one-time outlay of cash, whereas hitting the store a few times a week to buy what you need for dinner that night results in several smaller grocery trips. With funding your retirement, we’ve all seen the stories of two people, each making the same money and at the same age – one funds her retirement account from age 22-32 and stops, while the other starts at age 32 and funds it every year until retirement. I’m sure my readership is smart enough to know that the one who started investing early has the most money left at standard retirement age, even though the second worker contributed so much more and for a much longer time frame. Front-loading the sacrifice is a key to setting up a successful future!
Whether we’re talking about making a second meal out of tonight’s lasagna, or setting ourselves up for a solid financial future in old age, chowing down on some stale leftovers doesn’t have to be a necessary evil.
Successful personal finance begins with paying yourself first and making sure you have a financial cushion before spending the rest of your hard-earned dollars on wants. I’ve begun applying that to my meal planning, saving tomorrow’s portion before I even start eating tonight’s dinner, and it’s helped me cut down on portion size as a result.
If you prepare properly, you won’t arrive at your retirement with just the leftovers from a lifetime of work. You’ll have a sustainable crop of revenue streams to harvest each year to support your lifestyle indefinitely.
What do you think of this concept? Are you a fan of leftovers, or do you prefer to plan the perfect amount of food for that particular meal? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post in the comments below!