Savings Started

Mischief Managed

For whatever reason, this title reminds me of the Harry Potter phrase “Mischief Managed” courtesy of Mssrs. Mooney, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs, but it is much truer to say my mischief has only just begun. As of this week, I have opened an IRA and I have back-funded it for all of 2014. As of now, I officially have $5,500 dedicated to my retirement. Every time I remember that fact, I get a little shiver of joy, so I should try to remember it much more often.

Having a retirement account, a real one, has been a goal of mine for several years, but it has always been pushed off until later dates. This year, I netted a significant tax reduction by starting and funding my IRA, which is what finally motivated me to do it. Keep more of my money and take care of a much needed responsibility at the same time? Yes, please IRS. My new goal, now that the IRA is in place, is to max it out again for 2015. And then… well, it is easy for me to get ahead of myself. It is enough for now, to just drop $500 in the account each month and watch it grow.

Other news: my reading reports have fallen off the wagon, as have my happiness goals. I am going to choose to blame The Happiness Myth by Jennifer Hecht, which has turned my notions about happiness on its head.  In a nutshell, the message of the book is that there are a lot of ways to be happy, and the ways that our culture currently subscribes to aren’t necessarily based on great evidence. it’s made me wonder if my constant measuring and striving is really making me happier, or if it is just a manifestation of America’s puritanical work ethic underpinnings. It was interesting to see how ideas about what makes us happy and what is “good” for us have changed over time, and of course, it follows then that what we believe now about happiness and what is “good” for us is probably not the pinnacle of human thought on the subject.

The most helpful idea in the book (for me right now) was the idea that not only is there more than one way to be happy, but there is more than one kind of happiness. Hecht talked about happiness as “good day happiness,” “euphoria,” and “good life happiness” and basically, she said all three were necessary to our overall sense of happiness. Good day happiness might be something like sleeping in and doing something enjoyable during the day (I think of the weekend), and maybe even getting a little something done. Euphoria are the big moment–the concert you were looking forward to, the party, the day you started your IRA (just me? are you surprised?). Good life happiness is longer term, and it doesn’t always feel happy (Gretchen Rubin also talks about this), but it brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction by working to overcome a challenge.

I liked Hecht’s style, and it was refreshing to read something that questioned most of the other books I’ve read (even though it still looked like your stereotypical happiness book with a big lollipop on the cover). I’m interested to read some of Hecht’s other books (nonfiction and poetry–a writer after my own heart!). I think I’ll look for Doubt: A History next.

In the meantime, I picked up Wishcraft and The Joys of Much Too Much from the library, both probably work/what do I want to do with my life? books. I’m laying off the “how do you have a good family books?” for awhile because they got repetitive. For fun this month, I read The Fellowship of the Ring and most of The Wizard of Oz, but I didn’t finish it because it turns out to be a kind of dumb book (Wicked is much better). I’m also poking around with In the Sanctuary of Women, but I haven’t gotten too deep into it yet.

One comment

  1. Congratulations on getting the IRA started. Your many battles, sometime repetitious battles, with the nitty gritty of your monthly spending helped you accomplish this new launch. I like your summary of Hecht. Seems to me that we all work to keep that break down in balance with each other, kind of like having three fighting kids.

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