what are you saving up for, margarette?

i met with my banker a few days back.

i had told him i am now ready to listen to the financial expert’s advice on how to manage my savings. i told him how much i currently have on top of my emergency fund and how much i can do away with as “savings” every month, moving forward. he asked me out for coffee the following day instead.

he met me, carrying an envelope that i automatically assume contains brochures of various products he would try to sell to me. i expected the contains of that envelope displayed on the table even before we get served coffee.

instead, he leaned back, asked me if i mind him smoking, and then asked me, “i need to know something and you have to answer me truthfully or i won’t be able to help you the right way.” he paused and puffed a smoke. then he exhaled it. “what are you saving up for?”

what am i saving up for? two coffees served after, i still haven’t been able to answer his question in full certainty. what am i saving up for? the europe trip next year? the two trips to Oz and back every year? a house? a car? marriage? kids? surely, there must be something. “i-i don’t know.” i told him, as honest as i can put it. “i just thought i really need to save for the future.”

“you have to know what you are saving up for.”

“but nothing is really definite. anything can happen in the future.”

“exactly.” he replied. i gave him a blank stare. “that is why it is important to prepare for what might be.”

i was silent for a long time. and then i spoke up, “well, i guess…. there could be a wedding in three year’s time…”

“ah…! so, there is the wedding…”

“and… if i get married, i would certainly would want a kid a year after…”

“so there’s the wedding and a child…”

“well, it is a possibility. i do not think i can really tell at this point.” i told him, confused and quite happy that he wasn’t such in a hurry to just make some business or “close out a sale”. i sighed. this is harder than i thought. how can i not have a plan???? “i really have not looked at it that way before. i just knew i have to save up for something.”

he smiled like a guy who just heard something he has expected to hear. “you have to know what you are saving up for because you would want to maximize the option you have on where you would have to put the money. are you looking at the preservation of principal at this point? and up to when? we will not lock your money for three years when you would be needing those funds in two. and we won’t choose 5-year products if you don’t need the funds in the next ten years.”

of course, he made sense.

“we aren’t going to touch your money until you can draft me a plan on what you might end up doing or wanting now, in the next three years, five years, ten, fifteen…” he said and winked at me. “think about it over the weekend and let’s continue this coffee session next week. or the week after that or next month or by the end of this year until you can start to figure out and take the risk and plan your future.”

of course, he made sense. again.

i retold the conversation to zsolt that night. how can i not know what i want in the future? when did i stop planning? i was stressed, very much so that he could actually imagined it. “but baby, plans do not happen most of the time anyway.” he told me. “there is no need to freak out, it is not the end of the world if you have no plans in the next three years.”

of course, zsolt would never see it the way a banker would look at it. planning makes zsolt miserable.
planning would amputate zsolt and drives him out of his living-on-the-edge mind. but he did help me plan, anyway.

we only made it as far as three years, but that’s okay. my banker said we will take it one at a time.


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