It is my usual practice to draw inspiration for the money-management advice I offer from early-period and mid-period Beatles songs. There are times, however, when it cannot be denied that there is a darker side to the personal finance story that also very much needs to be told.
It was that darker side that was on my mind during my recent conversations with Ron Lieber, the journalist who writes the “Green Thumb” column for the Wall Street Journal. It was the most evil of songs that was playing in my head as he asked me what it is that we need to do to get young people to contribute to Section 401(k) plans.
The song is “Under My Thumb.” The singer is Mick Jagger. The theme is possession. The mood is sinister. The key lyric is: “The change has come.”
It wasn’t in Mick Jagger’s nature to put forward the comforting observation that: “There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.” His aim was to shake us up with imaginings of how it feels for the one on top when the change has come. It doesn’t require too big a leap of imagination to figure out how it feels for the one not on top.
You do not want the change that our satanic-influenced friend Mick was making reference to becoming a part of your future. If the bright-colored picture of The Good Life painted by the Beatles doesn’t do the trick for you, please consider how it would feel to be the one being sung about when your boss (perhaps not the one you have today, but one who enters your life at some later date) has the lyrics “the change has come” playing in his head while he is thinking about you and your humble request for vacation time or a pay increase or office space that provides enough quiet for you to get some serious work done.
There’s a reason why you often hear those who spend all of what they earn referred to as “wage slaves.” Think it over.
In the end, a positive approach to saving works best. But if it takes a scare story to give you the push you need to get your feet planted on the Financial Freedom Path, then use that. If you don’t save, you’ll always have a boss and never be a boss.
The Wall Street Journal article is entitled “Forcing 20-Somethings to Save: How to Make the Case to the Newest Members of the Labor Pool.” Here is the text of the section of the article that quotes my views:
“Rob Bennett, the author of a book called Passion Saving, thinks the saving problem is partly one of packaging. So he prefers to couch it in the language of freedom: ‘What works with young people is, ‘How do you feel about the fact that you’ll be under the thumb of an employer for the rest of your life?’ ‘ he says.
“If you are an employer, you might not put it quite like that. But it is as good a reason as any for young people to start saving today.”
It was Mick Jagger’s idea. I just quoted the guy. Regardless of what you think of the leering, slurring, satanic-influenced one generally, I think it is fair to say that he has this one nailed. He really does offer one of the more persuasive arguments for why young people need to participate in Section 401(k) plans, in my assessment.