Monday, July 10, 2006

What the Duck?

I have officially had the most crappy weeks of my life all fall on top of each other.

It started with the day that was spawned from Satan and Star Jones. Then things got a little better with an extended weekend over July 4th. But with every ray of sunshine there seems to be a shower, and now here I am, Monday morning, back at my desk until Friday.

I thought I should be productive and gets my ducks in a row this week. I was at a family BBQ yesterday and since everyone was discussing the rising cost of New York real estate and how everyone will have to move and other adult type things (I sat in the corner with a beer), I figured today would be a good day to enroll in my 401K. I have no idea about finances, so I asked my mother too look at the documents. She told me how much of my fledgling salary to put away.

Cue Joe, the man who works for T.Rowe Price who, over the phone, convinced my that I am an idiot who has no idea about finances, savings and/or retirement. I told Joe how much I wanted to come out of my check to go into this thing called a 401K. The conversation went something like this:

"Hello, Hey Joe, Wanna Give It a Go?"

Me: "I want you to take this much out of my pay check."

Joe, the money man: "Ok, that's great, now we just have to convert that into a percent. Do you know how much your annual salary is."

Me: "Not down to the dollar, no, it's some number or something."

Joe: "Well, ok, do you know how much you make an hour?"

Me: "Well, sort of, but again, not down to the exact number."

Joe's Ducks.

Joe: "Hmm, ok then."

Me: "Oh! I still have my offer letter here, here it is...."

Joe: "Great. So you want to put away 2%."

Me: "That's it 2%?"

Joe: "Yes, that's how much you said you wanted to put away."

Me: "Ummm...ok. "

Joe: "Now, where would you like the money to go?"

Me: " Ummm, wait, what? I want it to go in my 401K."
My ducks.

Joe: "Yes, the money will go in your 401K, but you have to choose an investment."

Me: "Like stocks? (thinking it would be a great time to invest in something really cool, like toys or something. )"

Joe: "Well, you can do that if you would like to take the hands on approach, but in that case you would have to monitor your money very closely. There is another option where someone takes care of it for you, and you invest in diversified (I start hearing blah, blah)...mutual...blahblahblahblah....portfolio...blahblahblah.

Me: "Ok I'll do that."

Joe: "Are you sure?"

Me: "Yes? (asked like a question)"

Joe: "Ok good, now, let me explain about taxes....blah....pre-tax...blah....blah....loan. ok?"

Me: "Yep."

Joe: "Ok, now, we have to set the term of your account according to the year you retire. I see you are 24, so it's safe to assume that you won't be retiring any time soon?"

Me: Shocked at this point, that Joe, my financial phone guru, had managed to ascertain that I had no rich boyfriend and/or husband in sight and would have to work until I found Mr. Sugar Daddy. "Yes. That is safe to assume."

Joe: "So, since you'll be working until 65, I'll set you up with a 2045 retirement date."

Me: "Well.....okaaaaaaayyyy...ummm" I see all hopes and dreams slowly melt away and envision myself at 65, at the same desk, on the same phone. Single, Childless and alone....perhaps with cats. Then I realized that when I am 65, my boss will either be dead or like 104. The picture just gets worse and worse in my head until Joe interrupts the daydream.

Joe: "Of course that doesn't mean you HAVE to retire in 2045, you can work longer if you like, or, you can retire early."

Me: "OK!" Sigh of relief. Maybe I won't turn into an old cat lady with Joe from T. Rowe Price as my only companion afterall. Perhaps Joaquin Pheonix or some other male actor who has the look that he's always lonely will find me today and marry me and pay my bills. Damn, Joe, interrupts the daydream again.

Joe: "Ok, you're all set! We'll be sending you some literature in the mail, you may want to look it over."

Me: (feeling totally stupid for having no idea what was going on thorugh this whole process) Ok, Joe, will do.

So officially, I am a financial idiot who really needs to learn about:

1. investing
2. what a mutual fund is
3. about retirement
4. what an IRA is (apparently my mom has set one up for me)
5. how to not block out perfectly nice phone financial advisers when they are explaining the above to me so I can make an appropriate decision.

But I bet Joe would suck at Cranium. And that's all that matters to me.

I may just be the greatest Cranium player of all time...I AM the Star Performer.

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