I don’t know about you, but I’ve always had a certain ambivalence about what are generally termed “Hallmark holidays.”
You know the ones I’m talking about – the ones that seem crafted for
the sole purpose of generating sales for greeting card sellers. Of
course, after a while you no longer question their existence – and if
one still struggles to remember exactly when “Grandparent’s Day” is,
well, we’ve pretty much got Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Valentine’s
Day down to a science (one that might not be on your calendar is
National Slap Your Irritating Co-Worker Day, October 23). Indeed, these
days there are months on the calendar devoted to a whole series of acknowledgements and remembrances.
There are also a number of occasions set aside to recognize the importance of saving (America Saves Week –February ), the importance of planning for retirement (National Retirement Planning Month – July, and National Retirement Planning Week – April), and the issue of retirement security generally (National Retirement Security Week – October). There’s even a National Financial Literacy Month (April) and National Financial Planning Month (October).
While I’ve had some involvement with most of those during my career
(mainly to remind folks about their occurrence) and, sadly, for many
those events are often dismissed as “Hallmark holidays” – even for those
of us who have made a career-long commitment to helping improve the
nation’s retirement prospects.
That said, one that has stuck with me – even prior to our affiliation
with the Plan Sponsor Council of America – is 401(k) Day. This year it
falls on Friday, September 6 – a date chosen in acknowledgement of the
fact that, as retirement follows labor, this focus on retirement follows
Labor Day (fans of history or trivia may appreciate that then-President
Gerald Ford signed the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)
into law on the day after Labor Day, 1974).
Of course, these days the focus has broadened, and incorporates a
focus on financial wellness ahead of retirement, as well as preparations
for that time yet to come. Like retirement itself, the preparations are
best attended to on an on-going basis, rather than a single date on the
Readers of this publication are all too aware of the challenges that
confront our nation’s retirement savings system – widespread financial
illiteracy, a persistent coverage gap, and looming shortfalls in the
underpinnings of Social Security. That “familiarity” with these complex
issues perhaps makes it too easy to dismiss the opportunity that an
occasion like 401(k) Day represents.
Sure, we’re talking about these issues every day – but as a friend
reminded me long ago, even a Hallmark holiday can provide an opportunity
to pay attention to the people – and things – we often take for
So, this year, let’s (all) take advantage of the “occasion” – all year long. You can find out how at https://www.psca.org/401kDay
- Nevin E. Adams, JD