Posts

(Writing) A Retirement Reality Check

Image
Are you scared of retirement? Well, if you are, you have some company. And, at least according to one of those  click-bait survey headlines , 40% of some 800 individuals surveyed claim to be more afraid of retirement than … death. And more than half—52%—of those younger than 39 claim the same. Now, as silly as that seems, could those survey respondents simply be more ready to meet their maker than most? Now, as it turns out, they have some pretty concrete concerns about retirement—or more specifically what they are afraid they will lose; things like income and employment-based healthcare benefits. So, they aren’t scared of retirement, per se—but of the things they fear they will lose because of retirement. [i]   I get it. Anyone who has changed jobs, a home, even a boss—can appreciate a certain level of anxiety around the unknown—even when it’s a result of your choice. And when it’s not?        Despite that level of concern, this is a group in which two-thirds (68%) think that Social S

The Founding Fathers and Fiduciary Fundamentals

Image
Anyone who has ever found their grand idea shackled to the deliberations of a committee, or who has had to kowtow to the sensibilities of a recalcitrant compliance department, can empathize with the process that produced the Declaration of Independence we commemorate this week. Not that the machinations of a plan committee can be fairly equated to the deliberations—or impact—of the Second Continental Congress, but there are some parallels. Things like… Committee members should understand their obligations—and the risks. Those who gathered in Philadelphia that summer of 1776 came from all walks of life, but it seems fair to say that most had something to lose. True, many were merchants (some wealthy, including President of Congress John Hancock) already chafing under the tax burdens imposed by British rule, and perhaps they could see a day when their actions would (eventually) accrue to their economic benefit. Still, they could hardly have undertaken that declaration of

Father's Time

Image
  As Father’s Day approaches, I’ve been thinking about my dad, the life he led, the choices he made, and his legacy. Mind you, I’m not talking about money. In fact, I didn’t learn anything about finance from my dad.  Not that our family’s income provided a lot of “room,”—but Dad avoided big purchases with the fervor of Ebenezer Scrooge. However, he’d spend that much (and more) on small things (mostly books, which remain in jaw-dropping abundance in my mother’s home 18 years after his passing!). My dad was a man of few words—spoken words, anyway. At 6’ 5”, he was an imposing figure, all the more so behind the pulpit from which he’d speak three times each week. He was a good speaker, though not a natural one. He worked hard at it, studied his subject matter (hence the books), and practiced his presentation relentlessly each and every week. I always thought it odd that such a quiet, introverted man would choose that career, but it was something he felt called to do at an early age, though

What Happened to the Three-Legged Stool?

Image
  Once upon a time, we talked about retirement as having three legs   [i] : Social Security, workplace savings/pensions, and personal savings. But to a number of vocal pundits, the full burden has been put …on the 401(k). But before there was a 401(k)—and even before the advent of ERISA—there was Social Security, a program designed to provide retirement income to working Americans. It remains absolutely integral to even the most rudimentary retirement planning calculation, and with good reason.  That said, despite a looming financing shortfall—and a fairly widespread notion that those benefits aren't "enough" for a full retirement income replacement, you don't see headlines in the New York Times—or folks going on book tours—proclaiming that program was a "mistake" the way some do about the 401(k).  The reality is that Social Security­—like the 401(k)—has undergone significant changes in scope, funding, and mission since its 1935 inception. People are often c

Retirement Realities

Image
Are you confident about your retirement finances? Apparently, and despite responses that undermine a rational level of confidence, many are. Last week, the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and Greenwald Research unveiled their 34th annual Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) . Now, I’ve commented previously about the dubious conclusions one can draw from personal sentiment surveys, not to mention those personal assessments of wealth and needs. Those limitations notwithstanding, over the years, the Retirement Confidence Survey has helped uncover a number of interesting and intriguing perspectives about retirement, real and imagined―and no small number of what would appear to be unrealistic expectations about retirement: expectations around how long individuals think they will be able to work, for example, or that they will be able to work for pay after retirement. Additionally, there have been indications that more individuals expect to receive a pension than would be suggeste