Dear 20-, 30- and 40-somethings reading this.

In my soon-to-be-released book Retire Fit, Fit & Fit I talk about the benefit of starting to save for your future when you’re young. I know what you’re thinking; there’s tons of time before I retire, I’ll figure it out by then. However, “Then” will come much sooner than you think.

When I was just out of high school and bouncing from job to job and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, I got caught by an unexpected (to me) layoff. It was then that one of my soon-to-be-ex co-workers who was considerably older than me gave me some startling advice. He said:

You should always keep about a month’s salary in the bank for when you are between jobs.

Biff! Pow! Holy bank account Batman, I had never heard this before, and all of a sudden it made infinite sense. But somehow it also dawned on me: Why stop at a month’s salary? Why not 2 months or 12 months? It was some years later that I heard this next incentive (as if I really needed one by then):

The rich plan for three generations; the poor plan for Saturday night.

I just love this quote, attributed to Gloria Steinem. Go on, read it again, it’s worth it.

Then today I read this article by Neal Gabler in The Atlantic. It is rather lengthy but worth your time. The most startling revelation for me is that 47% of Americans couldn’t cover a $400 emergency expense without borrowing or selling something. I have no data but I suspect that, more or less, the same could be said for Canadians. Which brings me to the last quote for this blog entry:

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

From David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

If you are in the same position as these 47% and need to reduce your spending and increase your saving (for your retirement, your children’s education, or just for a $400 emergency), may I suggest you take these quotes to heart and seek advice on how to change your financial future.