Retirement Is Coming

Richard Quinn

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 up on 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.

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