Bill married Susan when they were young, fresh out of high school. He was working at the shoe store and she was a clerk at Sears. They didn’t have much, but then they never had, so they never know how much they didn’t have.
She got pregnant and he got fired and something had to be done. So he went to college and they sacrificed, raising a precocious and darling little girl while he finished up a degree. Six years later, he graduated three months before little Sarah started first grade.
Even though they both worked, there was a mountain of debt and it took until little Sarah was a junior in high school before they could begin to see the edge of financial stability. Bill had worked non-stop, working his way through the ranks of the corporation, socking as much away as he could afford in their retirement accounts, not taking exotic vacations, dutifully saving for little Sarah’s college and their retirement.
The month little Sarah started college, Bill lost his job because he was getting too expensive and they could hire someone half his age for a third of his salary. But, he did get a big severance check. Big to he and Susan anyway – $50,000. Almost a quarter of what they had managed to put in their retirement account.
They talked to an investment guy and he told them about the wonder of compound growth and that when they got to be 65 (almost 20 years away), the $250,000 might be worth almost $2 million.. They felt rich. They were rich. They would have more than they had every dreamed possible. Not bad for a couple of country kids. All they had to do was to connect the dots, to somehow make it from where they were to the wonderful pearly gates of retirement, and wealth.
Of course, they both found jobs again, but with the knowledge that their retirement was now set (or so they believed), they started noticing things. They noticed they were driving 12 year old cars and living in a 1,200 square-foot house and hadn’t been on a decent vacation in, well, forever. They were rich. They needed to start enjoying it!
But fear raised its ugly head and instead of living off what they made, they became more and more miserly, not spending money on anything, worried their parents would find out they were now loaded, worried the market would crash. Worried about just everything and most of the worries they had never knew existed before they became rich.
“But Bill,” Susan said, “surely we are better off now than before, right? Our retirement is set and Sarah is taken care of. Who’da thunk it about us?”
“I dunno Susan. I liked it better the way it was, when we didn’t know what we didn’t have.”