Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I've got to quit listening to the naysayer.

I will open a Roth IRA today. It's going to happen, and then I'll stop worrying about it. Not discussing this sort of thing with my mother ever again is going to be key to managing to actually quit fretting.

I have good parents, but they have dramatically different parenting philosophies. My father, who was in favor of a much more authoritarian approach when we were younger, has actually become more laid back now that my brother and I are in college. He has concluded that we're adults who get to make our own decisions, even if they aren't always the choices he would have made. He's willing to offer guidance if asked, but he doesn't force his views on anyone.

My mother is only too willing to offer unsolicited advice, and her knee-jerk reaction to any situation is almost always pessimistic. I've inherited that trait, but over the past few years I've learned to figure out what the worst case scenario is, do what I can to prepare for it, and then try to move on. Mom, on the other hand, tends to let fear of making a bad decision keep her from making any changes whatsoever.

She's a worrier. When we talked about I Bonds, she didn't think they were safe because the U.S. government might default on its debts. Her faith in the FDIC is nonexistent so she assumes she and my dad could lose their life savings in a bank failure. Theoretically, I guess she's right, but if the government falls apart to that degree, we've got bigger problems than just money.

Naturally, she has concerns about my plan to open a Roth IRA. She suggested that Teach for America might kick me out and then I wouldn't have earned income. (I worry about that too, but I'm doing my prep work and will go to institute determined to learn as much as I can about teaching so that I can best help my students. What more should I do?) It doesn't seem likely that I'll be unemployed for months and months. I'm pretty sure that I can find a job doing something, even if it's tutoring part time and waiting tables part time.

My mother is also convinced that the U.S. stock market is going to crash so she thinks I'm insane for putting money into a fund that includes stocks. There are going to be recessions, but this is money I'm investing for use forty years from now. That gives me a lot of time to ride out downturns and makes inflation that much more of a concern. I know a well-diversified portfolio of both stocks and bonds is the sensible choice, but my mother does a great job of making me second-guess my decisions.


Anonymous said...

Wow. is the a reason to believe TFA would kick you out? Even if you had no earned income, you'd just have to take it back out of the Roth (maybe for some fee) and make it right.

As you said, if FDIC and ibonds are failing, we are in serious trouble as a nation.

I'm glad you are able to listen to reason and get past your mom's (and your) worries.

ambika said...

I think what you said about more than money being a problem if U.S. banks start to fail like they did in the 1930s is absolutely dead on. And that kind of pessimism is no reason to *not* open an IRA (or a 403B or what have you). I mean, if that's your thought process, you might as well move to a commune in Idaho & start stockpiling ammunition and canned beans.

E.C. said...

There are two ways TFA might kick people out of the program during summer institute. I'm not planning on harassing anyone, violating student confidentiality, drinking on the job, etc. so I almost certainly won't be removed for a rules violation. There's also a protocol in place for dismissing people who don't make adequate progress toward becoming good teachers. I don't think that will happen to me, but there's no way to be certain.