Wouldn’t it be nice to work at one of those places that offered big-time retirement perks?
I mean the kind of employer that promises to send you millions of dollars over the course of your retirement. Guaranteed.
You might be closer than you think.
When it comes to retirement, attitudes naturally change as we get older.
Twenties – time to spare. When a person turns twenty, she’s still got twice as long as she has been on the planet before she reaches traditional retirement age. Her whole life is in front of her. She generally lacks any sense of urgency to prepare for retirement, because so much will come before that.
Thirties – pulling out my hair. The thirty-year-old person is busy. Busy getting established in the early productive years of their career. The thirties are often a decade of family formation, having children and acquiring mortgages and car notes. It’s work all day, pick up from daycare, homework, baseball and too many drive-through meals. I’ll think about retirement later. I’m too busy to think about now.
Forties – debt despair. A whole fist full of reality hits at age 40, not the least of which is how much debt you have and how long you’ll have it. You are realizing that if you keep paying thirty or forty cents on every dollar you earn to pay debt, you’ll never get anywhere. It can lead to despair.
Fifties – I’m not prepared! There’s no denying at fifty that you’re past mid-career and likely past mid-life. If you never thought about retirement before, it may be all you think about now. It’s coming like a freight train and you can’t find your way off the tracks.
Yet the fifties is often the highest-earning decade of one’s professional life. The kids may have moved out and (at least somewhat) off the payroll. So there is often available cash flow to save for retirement, but often not much of a plan.
Sixties – I want my fair share! Americans who gave little thought to government programs and benefits develop a sudden interest once they turn 60. They probably do not have a company pension and the balance in their 401K looks less impressive all the time.
Social Security, something they never thought they would ever live to collect, starts looking pretty attractive. Especially once they start paying attention to the Social Security benefit statement the government sends them.
Take the case of George and Martha. George worked in sales, making about $75,000 per year. Martha worked as a bookkeeper earning $50,000. When they turned 60 they started focusing on their annual Social Security benefit statements. George thinks he’ll work until his age 70, but Martha plans to retire at 67.
With the help of a Social Security benefits calculator, they discovered that if they each live to life expectancy, the Social Security payments would receive together would exceed $1,000,000 over their lifetimes (assuming an average 2% cost of living increase each year).
Social Security is a government program and as such is pretty complicated to understand. Today our government spends about 25% of the entire federal budget on paying Social Security benefits. It’s a massive government program and it’s not going away anytime soon.
Some political unpopular financial adjustments are going to have to be made sometime, but I consider there to be zero percent chance it “won’t be there.” It will.
As you close in on your own retirement date, it would be a good idea to review your own Social Security benefit statement. You can create an account and access your personalized report at www.ssa.gov.
It might be taking things a little too far to call Social Security a “lucrative perk.”
But for most Americans, it remains the foundation of a secure retirement.
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