October 10, 2012 - Sometimes I wish I would have listened to Ma Rush more than I did.
Wish I would have inherited her financial smarts rather than those of Pops Rush. Money burned a hole in Dad's pockets. Actually, it'd be cool if money made it to my pocket to burn some holes. As it is, what is earned is spoken for.
I thought about this recently because last month the federal government sent me a statement of MY Social Security "savings." If you are one of the 92 percent of Americans working you know the mailing I am talking about. It's green and white and read all over. On Page One is an explanation of how the program works; Page 2, what you can expect to receive when you retire (depending on when you retire); Page 3 shows how much I (and my employer) has put in since I started working, oh those many years ago.
Every year when I get this mailing I turn to Page 2 and look at what I can expect to get. According to this year's mailing, if I work until the designated retirement age, I can expect to get something like $2,000 a month, or about $24,000 a year.
For some reason, this year I decided to read Page 1, too. As it stands right now, the federal government is telling me I can expect maybe 75 cents on the dollar of my (and my employer's) investment. Talk about depressing! My $24,000 a year retirement salary just got shrunk to $18,000 a year retirement salary -- or about $1,500 a month.
Does anybody remember the late and rotund comedian Chris Farely? He had a skit on Saturday Night Live about living "down by the river" in a van. I think in my retirement I won't live by the river, but I have joked for years with my sons about my retirement.
"When you come to visit me after I retire, look for the big box under the overpass of I-75 and Sashabaw Road."
Ha, ha, ha, the jokes on me. Maybe I shouldn't have tempted fate, cuz the longer I look at things, the clearer it becomes that that cardboard box has my name written all over it. Rats.
Maybe I oughtta start thinking about starting to think about saving for retirement.
I signed up for and then went to a retirement seminar at Whitey's Restaurant in Davison, last week. It was put on by Prudential. The fish and chips was, as always at Whitey's, top notch. The presentation by some bi-speckled dude named Derfler was good, too. It was good and depressing.
Says he, in the 1950s there were 17 workers "contributing" to every one person receiving social security. Nowadays, it's three suckers contributing for every one person collecting. By 2025, two will contribute for every one.
For fun, he let us all know that from the year 2000 to 2009 the cost of health care rose 149 percent -- more than four times than the average worker's wages went up during the same period. Then he asked if anybody in the room thought health care costs were gonna' go down. The consensus: Nope. To throw salt in my open wound, up on the screen he pointed to the projected increases for food, gas and utilities over the next 12 or so years.
Do the words smackin, frackin, blizin, rizen mean anything to anybody?
When I started working 27 years ago, nobody ever told me, "Son. Start saving now for retirement." And, I never thought, "Don, start saving for retirement." So, there is no savings. No IRA's, 401ks, nor any pensions. Nothing. Nada. Zippo. Zero. And, all of a sudden I'm rolling in on half a century since I traded breathing embryonic fluid for air, and I just figured out: I gotta' start saving for retirement!
Groovy. I ain't never retiring.
I tell my kids, nephews, nieces and any young person I can, to save now. And, I tell it to them like this: Had I only put $10 a week into a savings account I would at least have saved up over $14,000. Young people heed my words: Start saving now.
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Upon further contemplation, I have been a relatively good father to my boys, Shamus and Sean. Maybe in my retirement I can guilt them into letting me live with them -- or at least into buying me a bigger box.
Hey, it's a plan and I gotta' start thinking about thinking about it now, don't I? It's either that or they'll send me to the Soylent Green factory.
Send your comments (like, Guess it sucks to be you, Don) to Don@ShermanPublications.org.
Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org