Are We There Yet? By Dana Forbes, CEO
If you are reading this, you are either too young to know what’s coming and take for granted how quickly you will get “there” or you are already ”here” and you know it happened in a blink. This letter is to the 20- and 70-year olds, and everyone in between.
If you are in your 70’s, fifty years ago you were in your 20’s and tearing up the ungroomed slopes on your Gravdal skis and new all plastic buckle boots. For many of you, you were living in the moment, no different than the 20-year-old instructor today. Similarly, you likely didn’t consider that 50 years from then, you may be doing the exact same thing…except now the equipment and grooming is substantially better, even though your body is not.
We don’t know what we don’t know, you know? But now that you 70-year-olds are “here” you know. I hope for the majority of you reading this, that you planned. You planned for the day when you would get to “here.” You were prepared for the day your body couldn’t do it anymore and that you paid into your retirement, secured a health savings account to cover the surgeries, and paid into a home or property where you could enjoy retirement. Unfortunately, my guess is some of you did not, and are now scrambling to figure it out. For those of you facing a surgery you cannot afford, check out https://www.keesbfoundation.org/, a foundation to help instructors pay for medical costs. And be sure to do the research on social security and the benefits of waiting a year or two more before you collect, it makes a huge difference. Lastly, I want you all to know I am not here to make you feel badly about this but rather in the true essence of the teacher, have you help me educate those coming behind you to not make any of the mistakes you may have.
This next part is for you “20” somethings so please keep reading. Did you go to college and decide to take a year or two off to teach, or maybe you delayed college all together for just a couple of years while this covid stuff passed? Are you telling yourself that you will get a “real” job someday soon? That there will be time in the future to start to save and plan? Or maybe this was your plan, to teach your whole life. Whatever the case, now is the time, not later. I encourage you to take FULL advantage of any retirement fund you are offered and to pay the MAX into it. I insist that you take care of your bodies and eliminate the concept that you will ski your way into shape each season and start a strength and conditioning program daily. The biggest favor you can do yourself is to start saving ASAP. Per Suze Orman, “someone who saves $250 a month starting at age 25 will have nearly $500,000 saved up by age 65, assuming a 6% annualized return. If they wait until age 40, saving $250 a month will give them a retirement pot of only $175,000 by age 65. If they start at 40 and want to end up with the same pot as their 25-year-old self, they will need to save $700 a month for those 25 years.”
Now for everyone in between whose window is narrowing. It is the eve of my 50th birthday, so believe me when I say I can relate. It is you, who likely just rubbed your knee which aches more now than it used to. It is you, who just got new boots and after struggling to get them on, reflected and asked yourself “was it this difficult last year?” It is you, who after two decades of delay, decided 10 years ago that you better double down and put the max into that 401k and now in this financial crisis have looked at your meek investment portfolio and cringe at the losses. It is you, who know where “here” is and are finally admitting someday, sooner than we like, will be there. For you, it’s not too late. Did you know in 2022, those age 50 or older can contribute an additional $6,500 to their 401(k) plan each year, as well as an extra $1,000 across Traditional and Roth IRAs combined? There are so many opportunities out there to take advantage of and now is the time.
Moral of the story…
We have all chosen this path because we love the mountains and living in these amazing places. While that comes with sacrifices now, we are fine with it because every morning when we strap on our boots, we know the day ahead is going to be amazing. What I want for us all is to have that feeling daily, long after the boots turn to sneakers with Velcro and maybe the mountains to beaches
When we were kids my guess is we shared a common question approximately 32 minutes into a 7-hour car ride to see our grandparents, “Are we there yet?” Some of us are, some of us will soon be and some are far off, but it goes without saying, we will all get there, so do yourself a favor and start now so you can be ready.