I recently happened upon the American Film Institute's 100 top movie quotations of all time. (Don't you hate it when organizations publish lists because they know so many of us are inexplicably drawn to lists?) (Hey, by the way, be sure to read our 9 Retirement Killers and 7 Social Security Myths articles.)
After so many years at the Fool, I'm now wired to look for financial angles in almost anything, so I ended up reviewing the list with retirement in mind. I wondered whether there were any quotations that drove home important retirement messages -- and, of course, I found some.
Without any further ado, and in descending order, from the top of the top 100 to the bottom:
No. 1: "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." -- Clark Gable, Gone With the Wind, 1939
(By the way, did you know that 1939 was an unusually great year for movies? Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Rules of the Game, Ninotchka, The Young Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, and Dark Victory?)
But back to this particular quotation. It's fitting, especially when you look at the findings of a 2004 Retirement Confidence Survey: About 40% of people 55 or older have less than $100,000 saved toward their retirement; roughly 25% of workers don't sign up for available 401(k) retirement savings plans, and just 10% of workers contribute the maximum amount allowed.
Apparently, much of America doesn't give a damn about whether they retire comfortably or not.
No. 2: "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse." -- Marlon Brando, The Godfather, 1972
Our friends in Washington have made us an offer we can't refuse, yet too many of us are refusing it. Case in point: IRAs. Traditional IRAs let us save money more effectively, in a tax-deferred manner. Roth IRAs go even further, permitting us to ultimately withdraw our retirement savings tax-free! You really should be on top of IRAs. Learn more in our IRA Center.
No. 3: "You don't understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could've been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am." -- Marlon Brando, On the Waterfront, 1954
This makes me envision some hapless retirees 20 or 30 years from now, looking with envy at successful and happy retirees, and wishing they'd just taken more action when they had the chance.
No. 4: "Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." -- Judy Garland, The Wizard of Oz, 1939
I suspect this catchphrase characterizes the beginning of many retirements, when you wake up and find that everything is different. There's no job to get up early for and dress up for. There's no socializing with workmates, no office politics to avoid or gossip about. The paycheck you've been used to getting is a thing of the past, replaced by a variety of smaller checks, most likely leaving you with less to live on than you had before. Of course, not everyone loved Kansas. Life in retirement can be much better than your working life was. It's best to plan for it, though, and sometimes to transition into it progressively.
No. 7: "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up." -- Gloria Swanson, Sunset Blvd., 1950
This makes me think of how many of us would be embarrassed if anyone looked closely at our overall financial situations. Would we wince as they saw how much credit card debt we have? (You can dig out from it, though -- let us help you.)
No. 8: "May the Force be with you." -- You Light Up My Life, 1977 [NOT]
Just kidding. That's the movie I went to see instead of Star Wars in 1977, because that theater was much less crowded. But this quotation (yes, from Star Wars) reminds me that too many people leave their financial future up to fate. They tell themselves something like, "I'm saving $3,000 a year. That should be enough, I think." They haven't run the numbers and don't really appreciate how much they'll need tomorrow and what they have to sock away today.
No. 9: "Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night." -- All About Eve, 1950
For those with their heads in the sand now, retirement will probably be a bumpy affair.
No. 10: "You talking to me?" -- Robert de Niro, Taxi Driver, 1976
This quotation gives me the chance to try and shake you up a bit: I'm talking to you, dear reader!
Take just a little action now. Spend just 30 or 40 minutes reading about retirement today and keep learning every few days. Get the savings and investment accounts you need lined up. (A trip to our Broker Center can help you find affordable brokerages.) Consider taking a free trial of our Rule Your Retirement newsletter. The trial is free -- it costs you absolutely nothing. And it will give you a chance to sample one of our best offerings, which delivers easy-to-digest guidance and inspiration each month.
If you're still sitting there, a little uneasy because you're 15 to 20 years from when you want to retire, you've only socked away $50,000, and you're not yet taking action, well, then, "What we've got here is failure to communicate." No. 11 -- Paul Newman,Cool Hand Luke, 1967. If $50,000 grows at 12% for 20 years, it will become not even $500,000. Can you live off that for the rest of your life?
Remember, "Love means never having to say you're sorry." --No. 13, Ryan O'Neal, Love Story, 1970. If you love your family and friends, you'll make it easier for them by engaging in a little estate planning and retirement planning. Learn how to find a good advisor to help you, or perhaps take our inexpensive personal financial planning service for a spin.
With just a little action taken, and a little more discipline over the years, your retirement can be "The stuff that dreams are made of." -- No. 14, Humphrey Bogart, The Maltese Falcon, 1941. You can live in a community full of engaging neighbors and programs that keep your mind and body nimble. You can take trips to climb mountains around the world. "Made it, Ma! Top of the world!" -- No. 18, White Heat, 1949.
Here are just a few more quotations -- see what messages you can draw from them:
No. 25: "Show me the money!" -- Jerry Maguire, 1996
No. 35: "You're gonna need a bigger boat." -- Jaws, 1975
No. 38: "Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth." -- The Pride of the Yankees, 1942
No. 39: "If you build it, he will come." -- Field of Dreams, 1989
No. 40: "Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." -- Forrest Gump, 1994
No. 41: "We rob banks." -- Bonnie and Clyde, 1967
No. 42: "Plastics." -- The Graduate, 1967. Hey, if you're suddenly interested in investing in plastic, check out credit card-issuing companies, such as MBNA
No. 50: "Houston, we have a problem." -- Apollo 13, 1995
Get your retirement ducks in a row now, Fool, and one day you may be exclaiming, "I'm king of the world!" -- No. 100, Titanic, 1997.
And remember to consider taking advantage of a free trial of our Rule Your Retirement newsletter. Thousands have subscribed and are likely going to end up much better off because of it.
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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian's favorite discussion boards include Book Club, The Eclectic Library and Card & Board Games. She owns shares of no company mentioned in this article. For more about Selena, viewher bio and her profile. You might also be interested in these books she has written or co-written:The Motley Fool Money GuideandThe Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.