Will you wed work till death do you part?
Many Americans now face retirement, hearts full of dreams, bank accounts full of nothing. For them, those Wall Street ads showing silverhaired couples sailing warm blue seas may seem aspirations beyond their grasp. Instead, they may find themselves the 72-year-old hired to drive the platinum couple from the airport to the docks.
Some 45 percent of Americans have zero saved for retirement, according to the National Institute on Retirement Security. Why would that be?
The reasons are diverse. The problem may be stagnating wages, an expensive medical crisis or divorce that chopped household income in half. Or while collecting paychecks, they didn’t save enough, invested unwisely and spent too much on vacations, cars and pricey luxuries.
A big reason is the near disappearance of the traditional pension plan. It made saving for retirement a no-brainer. Employees didn’t have to decide how much, if any, of their paycheck to set aside. They didn’t do the investing. The company did it all. On retirement, former employees would be sent a pension check every month, possibly for the rest of their lives.
The 401(k) plan has taken its place. This is a deal whereby workers elect to move a certain amount out of their paychecks every week and into a retirement account. Participants usually have a say in how the money is invested.
And the 401(k) is a deal — even though investment companies often take a too-big chunk in fees. The employer may match some of the contributions. And the earnings deposited in the 401(k) are not taxed. You pay taxes only when you retire and withdraw the funds.
Though 80 percent of workers have access to a 401(k), only 61 percent put anything in. And many who do vastly underestimate what they’ll need and contribute far too little.
Whether they have other savings or not, Americans know that Social Security is there as a backstop. (Don’t let anyone tell you the program is going down.)
Social Security is beautifully simple, but even here, people make mistakes. For one, they start collecting benefits too early.
Consider the 61-year-old entitled to $1,000 a month at the full retirement age of 66. If that person starts collecting early at 62, the monthly check drops to $750. By waiting until age 70, the benefit jumps to $1,350. The difference between dipping in early and late is, starting at 70, $600 a month for the rest of one’s life.
In a recent poll of Americans over age 50, 4 in 10 said they plan to start collecting Social Security benefits early. Less than 9 percent said they’ll hold off until 70.
has incurred is not equal to the action itself. An outpouring of anger toward peaceful advocacy for equal treatment
for all Americans indeed proves the necessity of such actions in our nation today. We must re-frame our way of seeing these actions not as disrespect—not as students fighting against something,
but as young Americans fighting FOR something they feel deeply. These girls are our neighbors. If someone willingly draws negative attention to themselves for what they believe to be a wrong, maybe
we owe them, not hatred, but an ear. We owe it to each other to pause, to ask “why?” and to listen to the response.
The Progressive Starkville Network is proud to see young voices speaking out to bring attention to the social justice issues in our country and community, and for having the courage to use what little power high school students have to bring light to very real issues. “They have expressed a desire
to use this as a tool to create dialogue about real issues, not an avenue to further division. They want to be heard and understood, “says PSN member, Aries Spruell. Perhaps it is time for adults to listen.
FROMA HARROP SYNDICATED COLUMNIST