Richard Quinn | Aug 5, 2022
AM I ALLOWED another rant?
I have a tip for anyone under age 50. Someday—if you’re lucky—you’ll stop working and still need income to live. Most of us call that retirement.
How in the world do people reach their 50s and suddenly have a revelation that retirement is somewhere in their future?
I get it. If you’re in your 20s or even early 30s, it’s time to have fun. But there’s the trap. Fun for too long, without long-term planning, can mean a not-so-fun old age. Trust me, old age—which I refuse to acknowledge—sneaks upon you.
I frequently read about the plight of retirees and their surviving spouses—especially the surviving spouses—and think, “How did that happen? How can they be living only on Social Security?” These aren’t necessarily people who were poor all their lives. Many are average Americans.
The poor have any number of safety net programs at both the federal and state level. It’s the people who don’t qualify for most assistance who really need to think about their future. I’m talking about the people who blow a tax refund or their stimulus check on “stuff,” instead of using the money to open an account that could jumpstart their retirement nest egg.
I remain convinced that the overwhelming majority of Americans can save something every month. For Pete’s sake, at a minimum, put your daily change or a few dollar bills in a jar every evening, and go from there.
Then there are the folks who claim they don’t know what Medicare will cost, what Medigap will cost, what they’ll receive from Social Security, how much retirement income they’ll need. A modicum of effort will get you answers. For goodness’ sake, get your head out of the sand.
I see all this “not knowing,” even as I read about young people planning to retire in their 50s. I couldn’t retire in my 50s, even with a pension. I was still paying a mortgage and college bills. Besides, my wife wouldn’t go for the idea. Just imagine spending three or four decades in retirement with me ranting, I mean, writing cogent words of wisdom.
Originally published on HumbleDollar.
Today while working out at the YMCA I met a very overweight woman who appeared to be in her mid to late 60s . She is currently on disability from work after knee surgery in March. She told me she wished she could retire “but she didn’t plan properly”. Her husband is also still working full time . She mentioned at some point she has a college degree so presumably she had better than average earning power. The husband , also quite overweight, has had foot reconstruction surgery and is about to have both knees done . Apparently some people assume they can plan on working forever instead of planning for retirement.
Your rant is right on target. However, to be fair, when I retired at 55, I still did not what Medicare was going to cost me. I now have a good ideal what it might cost me in another five years when I turn 65. After I retired, I watched a lot more TV and kept see supplemental Medicare coverage ads during Medicare open enrollment. I finally researched it. I had no ideal what it was all about. I thought you just sign up for Medicare. I don’t trust advisors or salesmen. Good thing there is the Internet to get several opinions on how the Medicare supplement plans work.
In my wife’s case, she never worked in a large corporate setting that mailed out benefits packages and information like you did. Even though I didn’t always understand how the information applied to me, I could ask. She was never offered any information and would not to have known what to ask. Only one doctor office she work at had a 401k and the doctors were limited to what they could save unless their employees saved more.
By the time we reached our 50s, we had no living relatives or retired friends who were not on a state pensions to ask for retirement financial details. My grandfather, who died in 1981, might have been my last relative who had to save for his own retirement and he did well. My brothers and I all somehow saved for retirement in addition to company offered 401k plans. Don’t know where we learned it because we never talked about retirement planning.
People just don’t like talking about money.
I would not let an insurance broker choose a Medicare supplement. Many will steer you to Medicare Advantage . If you don’t want to do it yourself, I would recommend you call your local council on aging and they will put you in touch with a Medicare counselor (called SHIP or SHINE, depending on your state). They will help you choose a drug plan too. They are unbiased, well trained and free. Many of my friends have done it. You can go every year to re-evaluate your drug plan.