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Could Be Better

Richard Quinn  |  Apr 19, 2024

EVERY TIME I READ about the decline in traditional defined-benefit pension plans, and the rise and supposed failure of 401(k) plans, I get annoyed.
You’d think all Americans once had good pensions that provided a secure retirement. That isn’t—and never was—true. Barely half of American workers ever had a pension and many of those received little value from them because their job tenure was too short. Job tenure has long averaged some four years or so.

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Making Claims

Richard Quinn  |  Apr 5, 2024

HAVE YOU HEARD THIS nonsense about Social Security? It’s nothing but a Ponzi scheme. The trust fund is just IOUs. My favorite: I’d rather invest the money I pay in Social Security taxes because I’d get better investment returns.

All three claims reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of Social Security and how it works. Social Security is insurance—a form of annuity, a type of pension, a social safety net. It isn’t an investment and shouldn’t be viewed that way.

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Farewell to Forever

Jeffrey K. Actor  |  Mar 6, 2024

WHEN I WAS YOUNG, I felt immortal. We all did. It’s natural and likely hardwired into our brains. Such feelings of immortality have an evolutionary advantage, encouraging us to take the risks necessary to succeed.
When I planned for retirement, the notion of immortality was front and center. I consider myself in excellent health. I eat right. I’m not overweight. I stay active. I have a close circle of friends and an active social community from which to draw strength.

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Our Waiting Game

Edmund Marsh  |  Feb 28, 2024

A FEW MONTHS AGO, my wife and I were searching for an exciting diversion on a Saturday evening. It didn’t take long to agree on the perfect experience—logging onto SSA.gov to check out our estimated Social Security benefits.
What’s so thrilling about that? Like many people, Social Security will comprise a key component of our retirement income. Even now, those future funds exert a strong influence on our plans.
Background. I’ll turn age 62 this month and still work full-time.

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Money Matters

Sundar Mohan Rao  |  Feb 23, 2024

DURING THE PANDEMIC, I started devoting more time to retirement planning. But I had more questions than answers. I called a friend who was a financial planner.
“Retirement planning is confusing,” I told him. “I have a lot of questions.”
He laughed and said, “The answer is money. What’s the question?”
While his answer was humorous, it reflected what most retirees already know: Money is crucial for a good retirement. While it isn’t the only thing you need for a happy retirement,

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Faulty Assumptions

Richard Quinn  |  Feb 19, 2024

I SAW A GRAPH recently generated by some retirement-planning software. It showed the investor enjoying substantial portfolio growth over the course of his 30-year retirement. Forget running out of money. This particular software program says the guy’ll be a 90-year-old multimillionaire.

My curiosity piqued, I used the same software to run numbers for my finances. I ran optimistic and pessimistic assumptions. I entered my monthly expenses and my fixed income. I tried to run out of money,

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Belt and Suspenders

Douglas W. Texter  |  Feb 13, 2024

I’M IN NO HURRY TO retire—but I am making sure I’m prepared. I’m age 56, and I plan to work full-time until 70 and part-time until 75. I’m an English professor, and I enjoy teaching, service and scholarship. I also enjoy having three weeks off at Christmas and two months in the summer.
I received a fairly large inheritance, which has been growing over the years and which will allow me to do some special things in the years to come.

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Fire Meets Ice

Jonathan Clements  |  Feb 10, 2024

HAVE WE GOT IT ALL wrong? “It” is our relentless, lifelong focus on socking away great wads of money, so we don’t have to worry about earning another penny once we reach our 60s.
In fact, adherents of the FIRE—financial independence-retire early—movement aim to reach this blissful state far earlier, perhaps even in their 30s. This, of course, involves saving voraciously, with all the financial sacrifice that’s entailed. Even retiring in our 60s can seem like a Herculean task,

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Prophet Motive

Ken Cutler  |  Feb 2, 2024

LARRY BURKETT WAS one of my early financial influences. Burkett, who passed away from cancer in 2003 at age 64, had a daily program called Money Matters on our local Christian radio station. For years, it came on during my commute home from work, and I’d faithfully tune in.
Burkett was a prolific author, publishing more than 70 books. His final book, Wealth to Last, co-authored with Ron Blue,

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A Long Journey

Hank Bertsch  |  Jan 17, 2024

MY FATHER LEFT US—my mother, sister, brother and me—in 1951, when I was age 10. With the help of her parents, my mother managed to raise us three children until we each got married. I knew I wasn’t as well off as many of my parochial school classmates, but I never felt poor. Still, we didn’t waste a cent, and that became a lifelong habit.
It’s been a long journey since then—service in the Army and Army Reserves,

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Retirement Ready

David Gartland  |  Jan 10, 2024

THE LAST TIME I HAD a job where I was eligible for a pension was 1994. People with pensions seem to count the days till they’re eligible to collect their monthly check. That makes sense: They know there’s gold at the end of their working life. I didn’t have this sort of “golden parachute.” If I didn’t save, I couldn’t retire.
From 1994 on, funding my 401(k) and IRA were my only paths to a comfortable retirement.

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Calculated Risk

Richard Quinn  |  Dec 8, 2023

SOMEONE POSTED THIS comment on a Facebook retirement-planning group that I follow: “My plan is based on my spouse and I living to 95 and 94 respectively. Our paid house is now worth about 900K. I am comfortable it will appreciate at 5% per year. The plan shows a 75% chance of success. If we sell the house at 85-84 and rent at a retirement community the success goes to 99%. We could cut back on expenses and that 75% chance would improve but why do that if I don’t need to?”

I suppose that,

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Took Time

Richard Quinn  |  Dec 6, 2023

HOW DID I GET financially to where I am today, 15 years into retirement? It’s a good question—one that’s taken me a lifetime to answer.

I’ve been fortunate in a way that’s nearly impossible for Americans today. I worked for one company for nearly 50 years and I accumulated a traditional pension based on that service. In addition, during my last few years on the job, I was eligible for stock options, restricted stock awards and enhanced bonuses.

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Searching for When

Patrick Brennan  |  Dec 4, 2023

DURING MY FINAL NINE years with the Coast Guard, I was involved in decisions regarding search-and-rescue operations. We were almost always working with imperfect information. For three of those nine years, I was responsible for all missions in one section of the Great Lakes and, in my last year, I made the final decision on when to suspend search-and-rescue operations in an even larger area.
To lower risk, we often assumed the worst, and threw copious operational resources at the situation.

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To Be or Not to 403(b)

Jeffrey K. Actor  |  Nov 16, 2023

I BEGAN MY CAREER at a small startup biotech company, only to realize the place had too much office politics, plus not enough credit was given for new discoveries. That was at odds with what I wanted, which was to be a research scientist focused on the basic principles underlying diseases.
Fortunately, I was offered a tenure-track academic position at a large medical school in Houston. I never looked back. Indeed, I consider myself one of the fortunate few who woke early each and every day to pursue their life’s passion.

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