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Retirement is Far Off!

11/25/2019
By Jack Towarnicky

The Ants & The Grasshopper1

Once upon a time, the grasshopper danced and sang: “… I see no reason to worry and work.” He sang a different tune once winter arrived: “I’ve been a fool, all (a)long. Now I’m singing a different song. …”

Someday, when America finally decides how best to deliver financial education to children and adults, young and old, let’s be sure it includes the fable of the ants and the grasshopper.

The Story: A Grasshopper spends his summer singing and dancing while a team of Ants have worked hard all summer collecting, saving up and storing food for winter. The Grasshopper doesn’t understand why the Ants work so hard. When winter comes, the Grasshopper finds himself dying of hunger. He sees the Ants enjoying the fruits of their labors and begs for food. He then understands why Ants work so hard and save up.

The Lesson: There’s a time for work and a time for play! A time to store up and to save … to prepare. The fable attempts to teach the perils of improvidence (lacking foresight, neglecting to provide for future needs). Even the Bible’s Book of Proverbs commends the Ants.

Just because something isn’t important right now, doesn’t mean is should be ignored or put off. For workers and their retirement preparation, the lesson is “pay yourself first”! Always prepare for what’s ahead.

We would need a different fable for the cynics who believe preparation for retirement is too difficult, improbable, even impossible; or for those who have seen others whose sacrifice and preparations go for naught.2

We might try the Thirsty Crow and the Pitcher.

The Story: A thirsty crow comes across a pitcher of water. When the crow puts its beak into the mouth of the pitcher, he can’t reach the water. He tries and tries but fails each time. Giving it some thought, he comes up with a solution. He drops a pebble into the pitcher, then another, and another, and another and another. The pebbles displace the water so that it rises to the top and he can drink and quench his thirst.

The Lesson: Necessity is the mother of invention, and with a little planning, you can gain what at first may seem impossible. For retirement preparation, little by little will do the trick. Slowly, steadily add to the accretion and you will slowly, steadily achieve your goal.

Retirement preparation takes time and consistent effort!


1Disney, Silly Symphony the Grasshopper and The Ants, 2/10/34, Accessed 10/24/19 at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tl0iRVFRvEk
2J. Henson, Muppets, 11/4/77, Accessed 10/24/19 at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJAYsKjJtM4; See also: J. Towarnicky, Life is Not A Dress Rehearsal For Retirement: Start doing some of those things you are dreaming about today! 09/19/18, Accessed 10/25/19 at: https://www.psca.org/blog_jack_2018_43

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