Retirement is on its way; be prepared! As reported in the Fed’s consumer finance survey, in 2016 the median and mean average family income was $52,700 and $102,700, respectively. The study indicates that 52.1% of Americans have retirement accounts with median assets totaling $60,800 and average assets at $228,900. One-quarter of the population in the United States is made up of 45 to 64-year-olds. By comparing incomes to retirement accumulation, there appears to be a savings gap for working folks to be able to maintain their standard of living once they exit the workforce. In this article, I take a brief look at the big picture: Retirement Revelations.
What is retirement? Objectively, retirement is known as the period late in life when working individuals exit the jobs market. Subjectively, exiting the workplace represents different things to many people. For some, retirement is sought after as a time of leisure and enjoyment, absent the toil and struggle of full-time employment; for others, it is a time of new beginnings, do-overs, volunteering, and giving back. Most people work until they reach 67 years old, the age necessary for individuals born after 1959 to receive full Social Security benefits. Social Security is often derided because of its limitations and shortcomings, and yet, Social Security is far superior to what was previously available – nothing!
Pensions, retirement income, and Social Security benefits were non-existent until the late 19th century, the period known as The Gilded Age. Up to this time in history, America remained predominantly agrarian. Families encompassing three generations lived and worked on farms together; they relied on themselves to survive, strive, and thrive. Male life expectancy was 47 years; men would work until they could not, and then the stronger and younger took care of the infirmed. As the Industrial Revolution shifted labor from the farms to the factories, private enterprises flourished. Competition for skilled workers was the impetus that induced private businesses to offer benefits as incentives to retain employees’ loyalty and services.
In 1875, The American Express Company (AXP) established the first private pension plan in the United States. It was not until 1935 that President Roosevelt enacted the Social Security Act. Social Security then, as now, provided a minimum baseline retirement stream for every American worker. Social Security was always meant to be supplemental to workers’ savings and investments.
Is it too late to start implementing a retirement strategy from scratch? Nope! Now is the perfect time to take action. Whether you are just beginning or ratcheting up the pace of savings, the time is now. The world of everything digital is democratizing the investment mosaic. There are better solutions than ever before to put our money to work. Anyone who can save $1 or more on a regular basis can positively impact their financial situation over time. In fact, saving $1 a day over the course of one’s working career for the past 45 years and investing it into a low-cost stock index like the S&P 500 would have grown to $300,000 today. Of course, there is no guarantee that history will repeat itself; yet, it sure is worth going for it!
Author of Financial Fitness: The Journey from Wall Street to Badwater 135
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