What is Your Magic Number?
When I was a kid I can remember trying to save a specific amount of money. I always wanted my coins to round to a nice even number. I wanted $5, not $4.99. I would sort my coins by type and then place them into neat little piles of ten. I can remember sitting on the floor for long periods of time counting and rolling pennies, nickels and dimes into those tiny cardboard sleeves.
More often then not I was just short of filling a roll. I always seemed to need two or three more quarters to reach $10 or one more penny to reach 50 cents. Of course, I always asked mom or dad for that extra penny or quarter to help me finish the roll and they willingly obliged.
When I got older I set similar goals for my money, but this time I focused on the balance in my savings account rather than the coins in my piggy bank. My numbers started out small, a nice even one hundred dollars, then a thousand, ten thousand, one hundred thousand and of course that infamous one million. Over time the money transitioned from a savings account to a brokerage account or from a 401(k) to a Roth IRA, but still that infamous magic number kept growing larger and larger.
These days I’m not sure I have a particular number in mind. When the market is high I wish for the number to grow one hundred thousand dollars in the blink of an eye and when the market is low I hope that it won’t drop by anything close to that amount.
I’ve run retirement calculations and attempted to figure out how much money I might need when I get older, but I can never seem to settle on a specific number. Honestly, I think if I reached that number I would quickly change my mind and increase the threshold.
I would like my non-retirement assets to be larger then my two mortgages. It would be nice to know if all else failed that I could write a check to pay off my homes. Mortgages are cheap these days, so I’d probably never do that, but it seems like a hell-of-a-place to start. Of course I’d need money to live on after that, but I’m not exactly sure what my magic, pie-in-the-sky number should be.
What about you? Do you look at the balance in your savings account and wonder if you’ll feel more secure or comfortable when you reach a certain number? Do you celebrate small milestones like adding another $1,000 or $10,000 to your savings account or 401(k)? Also, am I the only one that likes to see nice even numbers?
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