I’m saving up for retirement, but I’m finding it difficult to feel comfortable that I’ve got enough stashed away, no matter how lumpy my mattress gets. Fortunately, there are other ways of saving for my geezer years that don’t require me to make monthly contributions to my IRA.
For instance, every time I go to my favorite diner I pocket a few little containers of strawberry jam. I think these things basically have a shelf life of forever, and at this point I’ve got hundreds of them saved in a big jar on my pantry shelf. I consider jam to be one of the essential ingredients of a good day, so now I’m guaranteed of sweetness on toast for the foreseeable future.
Other restaurant visits insure that I’ll also have a lifetime supply of tiny salt and pepper packets, sugar, ketchup, and mustard as well as hundreds of chopsticks and oolong tea bags. I don’t ever drink this Chinese take-out tea, but can’t bring myself to throw it away, figuring that someday I’ll find a tea-totalling retiree who’ll trade me for something more useful, like a bagful of tiny bottles of scotch expropriated from first class airplane rides.
In my bathroom I have an entire drawer full of miniature soaps, shampoos, body lotions, and shower caps, souvenirs from the many hotels I’ve stayed at over the years. I’ve never used a shower cap, but if they finally come up with a miracle cure and the hair grows back on the top of my head, I’ll never need to buy one. So these are another investment in the future that I’m betting will one day pay dividends. And even though I haven’t sewn a button on any of my garments for the last 15 years, if I ever need to supplement my Social Security, I have more than enough miniature sewing kits to fund the start-up of a button sewing business, if anyone is looking for an investor.
I’ve also got a closet full of shoes. These shoes are all well-worn, and perfectly broken in, because they were each at one time my everyday shoes. Whenever I buy a new pair I save the old one, in case they get soaked in the rain and I need a dry pair. Now, if my budget doesn’t allow me to buy any new shoes, I could start wearing them again. They each still have a few hundred miles left on the tread, so, given that the older you are the slower you go, I probably have enough shoe leather left to last me until I’m 100, at least.
Then there’s my suntan lotion savings account. I haven’t squirreled away a shopping bag full of SPFs in all denominations because I’m particularly worried about being overexposed to the sun here in Cleveland, land of the Cloud People, but every time we go to the beach we forget to bring the lotion, and have to stop to buy a new tube. Because of memories I still have of trying to chase and grab my sand coated children to unsuccessfully smear lotion on them, I think this drawer is destined to become a significant portion of their inheritance.
We’ve also managed to fill up our shelves with books that my wife or I read or bought and never read. The advantage to getting older is that at some point it no longer matters whether or not you’ve already read a book, because you can’t remember what happens anyway. So, in this area, unlike my IRA, I think I have enough literature saved up to last me for the rest of my life.
I’m still hard at work trying to find other non-monetary ways of saving for retirement. I’ve got substantial collections of assorted not-forever stamps, greeting cards that charities have sent hoping to guilt trip me into a donation, twist-ties, mismatched socks that I’m sure will someday find their true love, and cassette tapes that I’m waiting to make as big of a comeback as vinyl LPs so I can unload them for a small fortune.
You can’t blame me for dreaming of my retirement bonanza. I picture myself lying on the beach with plenty of lotion, condiments for my lunch, a bathing cap at the ready to keep my lush head of hair dry, and a great book to come back to, that I may or may not have once read, after my morning swim. Now if I can just find an old Sony Walkman to listen to my classic tapes I should be all set.