Always keep the long game in mind


Long term is tough because, well, it’s long — the waiting, the grinding, the monotony and the not knowing when you’re going to arrive.

It seems like this gets magnified when it comes to saving. Saving for vacation, for a car, or a house or something else, it seems impossible at times. I had someone ask what they should do if they’re looking to buy a house in the future, and I basically had to tell them to sock as much money as possible away. It seemed like empty advice because it seems so simple but so hard.

The topic I am writing about today is looking to the future without really knowing what it will hold. Nobody knows what could come tomorrow, which always makes it interesting. When we start saving or investing something that doesn’t really have a goal in mind, it will bring resistance to our comfortable lifestyle.

Take for instance my car fund. I started saving for a car by taking a certain amount out of every paycheck. I wasn’t looking to buy a new car, but I knew I would need one someday, and I knew future me would thank past me for putting that money away. I’ve told the story many times, but my current car had given out and I was stuck with no car. It was then that I was thankful I had a nice, little nest egg to fall back on and buy a car immediately. There was no end date on this fund, just the goal to grow it. And even though I got a car, I am still consistently adding to it every paycheck.

The other approach to this that kind of has an end date is retirement. When we’re 20, 30 and even 40 years old, retirement can still be decades away. The truth is we think we have all the time in the world, but there will be a deadline, and it can be ugly if no preparation took place. If you don’t believe me, listen in on a phone call to the Dave Ramsey show from an elderly person who is ready to retire but they never saved up for retirement. It is heartbreaking, but they must make the best of the situation they are given, or they gave themselves.

Then there are “gurus” that claim retirement is a waste of money because we can’t enjoy the money when we’re old anyway. We can’t go hiking. We can’t go skydiving or any high-thrill adventure when we are retired, and I bought into that ideology for a little bit, but thankfully not too long.

I loved the idea of saying retirement is for the weak and we should live for the moment, but that should only be an idea. Put yourself in the caller’s shoes. You lived a full life, full of adventure, but now you are 65 or 66 and you’re done with the rat race. You spent a lot of time traveling and taking vacations, but now you’re standing at the door of retirement with 20 or so years ahead of you and you have $50,000 saved up. Now what? My guess is retirement won’t be treated as retirement because no one can live on $2,500 a year plus Social Security.

I know it seems asinine now because the end date is so far away, and I know I sound like an old timer, but it’s tried and true advice that hasn’t quit: Keep the long game in mind when saving for something, but especially for saving for your future quality of life.

Holmes County native BJ Yoder is an insurance agent by day and a finance enthusiast by night. This column is for informational purposes only. He can be emailed at

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