I actually had this rich guy, someone without a degree, sit down and show me what it looks like to save a couple thousand dollars a year into an IRA and tell me, "Here's what you'd have." And I went, "Oh my gosh! I'm only 20-some years old. If I start doing that now, look how much I'm gonna have!" Nobody ever put that in that way to me, and I went through a four-year degree in finance.
So, what everything comes down to is this: Each individual has got to spend significantly more time knowing what's going on with their life, with their money, and with their relationships and career than they do with just being entertained into oblivion.
I always laugh on the radio and say that the average millionaire can't tell you who got thrown off the island, but they can tell you exactly what they have in their 401(k).
You talk about "baby steps" on your show and in your book, the "Total Money Makeover." Are there any special steps that you'd add or recommend for people who are serious about preparing financially for retirement?
I will often get asked, on my show, questions by someone who's 55 or 60 years old ... is it too late? Obviously, it's easier when you're 27 than when you're 57, but it's never too late. And so you don't change the "baby steps" because, still, your most powerful wealth-building tool is your income -- we still have to get that freed up -- and the only thing that really changes (later in life) is the intensity with which you attack the problem. It might be an intensity that is a little bit more fear-based at that point, but that's okay. That can be an additional motivator to change behavior for the better.
Is a reverse mortgage a viable fallback option for folks who'd not saved enough money for retirement? What should people be aware of when considering this option?
Reverse mortgages are some of the worst products to have ever come along in years. And the reason why is really simple: They have unbelievably high fees and the interest rates associated with them are a total rip. If you are in a position that your only option, in your mind, is to borrow money on the house, just go and get a regular mortgage -- you'll get a much better deal that way -- and then invest that money and live off of it. It's just a much, much better deal than a reverse mortgage.