Spotlight on re­tire­ment helps pub­lic

Stamford Advocate (Sunday) - - Business - JULIE JA­SON

Na­tional Re­tire­ment Se­cu­rity Week, “a na­tional ef­fort to raise pub­lic aware­ness about the im­por­tance of sav­ing for re­tire­ment,” just fin­ished. First es­tab­lished in 2006, the goal is to el­e­vate pub­lic knowl­edge about re­tire­ment sav­ings.

Of course, I’m a be­liever in this cause. Any­thing that helps to shine a spotlight on re­tire­ment se­cu­rity is a pri­or­ity and pas­sion of mine. There is a rea­son: Sta­tis­tics tell a sad story. Not enough peo­ple start to save early enough in their ca­reers. Not enough re­tirees are se­cure in know­ing they will not out­live their money.

Ac­cord­ing to the 2017 Re­tire­ment Con­fi­dence Sur­vey con­ducted by the Em­ployee Ben­e­fit Re­search In­sti­tute, close to 40 per­cent of Amer­i­can work­ers are not sav­ing for re­tire­ment.

Those who do save don’t save enough to ad­e­quately fund their re­tire­ment years — 24 per­cent have less than $1,000 in sav­ings. Only 1 in 10 has pre­pared a re­tire­ment plan.

Why is this the state of re­tire­ment sav­ings?

The in­side story is well­told — all you have to do is read the Se­nate’s 2018 res­o­lu­tion (S. Res. 654), which I am adapt­ing here. I’m sure you’ll agree that the topic is one that needs to be ad­dressed and ad­vo­cated by all:

Peo­ple in the U.S. are liv­ing longer.

The cost of re­tire­ment is in­creas­ing sig­nif­i­cantly.

So­cial Se­cu­rity was never in­tended by Congress to be the sole source of re­tire­ment in­come for fam­i­lies.

Many work­ers may not be aware of the var­i­ous op­tions in sav­ing for re­tire­ment.

Many work­ers may not have fo­cused on the im­por­tance of, and need for, sav­ing for re­tire­ment and suc­cess­fully achiev­ing re­tire­ment se­cu­rity.

Al­though many em­ploy­ees have ac­cess to em­ployer plans to as­sist them to pre­pare for re­tire­ment, many may not be tak­ing ad­van­tage of those plans at all or to the full ex­tent al­lowed by law.

Given this state of af­fairs, what ac­tions can you take right now to help ad­vo­cate?

Try just this one ac­tion: Iden­tify a young per­son you know, such as a child, grand­child, friend or col­league who just started to work. Ask the per­son if he or she has a re­tire­ment plan at work. If so, here are a list of ad­di­tional ques­tions:

1) What’s the ben­e­fit of par­tic­i­pat­ing in the com­pany’s plan?

2) If the com­pany con­trib­utes to em­ploy­ees’ ac­counts, what do you have to do to max­i­mize the com­pany’s con­tri­bu­tion?

3) What’s stop­ping you from par­tic­i­pat­ing?

4) If you can’t af­ford to con­trib­ute, why not?

5) If you have com­pet­ing de­mands (such as stu­dent loans), how are you pri­or­i­tiz­ing?

6) Does that mean you won’t want to re­tire some­day? Or do you think some­one will pay you to re­tire?

7) What’s your plan? (You won’t be able to move in with me.)

Let me know how the con­ver­sa­tion goes.

By the way, I’m think­ing of spon­sor­ing an award to en­cour­age this type of ad­vo­cacy with those who are just start­ing their ca­reers. I’d like to know your thoughts. Would it be worth­while? Would com­pa­nies help pro­mote the award? Let me know by email­ing me at read­ers@ julie­ja­son.com.

If you will be in New York City, do come to a pre­sen­ta­tion I’m giv­ing on Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. at the 92nd Street Y. I will dis­cuss my lat­est book, “Re­tire Se­curely.” Reg­is­ter at 92y.org/ event/re­tire-se­curely.

Julie Ja­son, JD, LLM, a per­sonal money man­ager (Jack­son, Grant of Stam­ford) and au­thor, wel­comes your ques­tions/com­ments (read­ers@julie­ja­son.com). Her awards in­clude the 2018 Clar­ion Award, sym­bol­iz­ing ex­cel­lence in clear, con­cise com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Her lat­est book, a cu­rated col­lec­tion of Julie’s col­umns, is “Re­tire Se­curely: In­sights on Money Man­age­ment From an Award-Win­ning Fi­nan­cial Colum­nist.” To hear Julie speak, visit www.julie­ja­son.com/events.

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