Free Ebook.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

« What to Do When You Inherit Money | Main | Ten Top Jobs for Older Workers »

June 21, 2007


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

It's not that I doubt that there is a retirement savings crisis, but the stats just don't reveal much for me. It doesn't tell you how many people have pensions (not unheard of for people who are currently over 55), doesn't tell you who's sitting on valuable r.e., etc. Also, since these stats are for everybody age 55 to whatever... 95, would you really expect a 90 year old to have much left in the bank? I also suspect that the definition of savings my be suspect - does this count dollars in 401K's, IRA's, and other investments? Or is it simply what's in your savings account? Because if it's the latter, I could introduce you to a few multi-millionaires that have less than $25K sitting in their savings account.

My anecdotal observations do suggest that most people are not much concerning themselves with retirement savings - they see it as something they'll catch up on later, only later never comes. I just wish there was better data to make the point.

Oops - Guess I should have read the article 1st. Says the figures include 401K's and similar plans, but exclude home equity & pensions. That makes this some of the better data I've seen.

Well FMF, you're right. I have no freakin idea how most people are going to retire other than to work as long as possible, then mooch off their adult children. I've seen this scenario too many times in my own family. Wife and I joke that in 20 years we'll have to barade ourselves from all the friends and family that will be trying to come live with us when they decide "retire".

I read the title and thought, why would the savings patterns of "little people" be any different than "non-little people???" ;-)

Those figures are incredibly low. Yes it should pensions but how many companies still offer them? And home equity shouldn't be included, unless a retirement plan includes selling your house and living on the street.

Here's a question. With all these people retiring, they are either going to have to be supported by the government or work until they die. They either take our tax dollars or they take our jobs. I can't think of a third option!

Okay, that wasn't a question.

I have long understood that retirement will never be an option for me, and that in the statistically likely event I become disabled before I die, I will become destitute.

But to all those who suggest I have not been saving enough, I ask:

How much do you expect a minimum-wage earner with student loan debt to save?

A retirement plan could include a reverse mortgage on your home.

Min Wage,

I guess I'll take the bait. I don't expect you to save anything, other than enough to establish some sort of emergency fund at the this stage.

But (and I'm sure you're sick of hearing it), you are going to have to earn more, considerably more, in the future in order to establish some sort of stable financial situation. This is the unavoidable conclusion. You'll probably write back to tell me all the reasons that's not possible right now, to which I would probably respond with a high degree of skepticism. I've been in your shoes, I bet maybe even worse. I've been jobless, with no savings, CC co's hounding me, and huge student loans I could not even begin to pay the interest on.

The simple (and sometimes not so simple) fact is that you have to start taking some very decisive ACTIONS to correct whatever got you into this situation because it doesn't sound like your present course will lead you to anywhere but the poorhouse.

I got a liberal arts degree with law school in mind, but by the time I graduated (after several years working full time to take classes part time), law school was out of financial reach. I had a minor in comp sci but the PC made my mainframe skills obsolete.

Anyway, as a boomer with little in the way of marketable skills and nothing in the way of "career-related" experience, I have a hard time imagining a scenario in which an employer hires me for a "good" job. This leaves self-employment as the only feasible path to success, but it's hard to make a startup work on a shoestring.

Minimum Wage said: "I got a liberal arts degree with law school in mind, but by the time I graduated (after several years working full time to take classes part time), law school was out of financial reach. I had a minor in comp sci but the PC made my mainframe skills obsolete.

Anyway, as a boomer with little in the way of marketable skills and nothing in the way of "career-related" experience, I have a hard time imagining a scenario in which an employer hires me for a "good" job"

It is not obvious to me why any babyboomer would still be working a minimum wage. High School graduates with a work history can make more than a minimum wage. My 15 year old son does yard work for more than the minimum wage. What am I missing?

Paul --

You're missing the fact that your 15-year-old son has initiative, a willingness to do whatever it takes to advance, and a desire to improve his life.

@FMF - Ouch!

@ Min Wage - I too graduated with a liberal arts degree. And I sort of minored in comp sci - I was a casual hacker that converted those skills into a job during college. My training was on mainframes, but I self-taught myself PC programming skills, which helped me earn money to pay for college. After working in the technology field, I transitioned to sales and marketing, and eventually pursued a more lucrative career. At every step of the way, you have to step back, reassess the direction you're headed in, and modify course depending on the answer. You have to continually upgrade your skills, now more than ever given the technology revolution and global competition in our business environment.

This is all to say that whatever limitations we're given, we have work it. There is no replacement for persistence and a positive mental attitude. Excuses really don't cut it. A long time ago, I decided that I wasn't going to sit back and let the world run me over. Because, the only thing that is guarantied in life, is that if you let fate determine your path, you will get royally screwed.

Miguel --

I was only so harsh because I've had this discussion what seems like a thousand times with MW. If he'd stop complaining and simply take action, his life would be much better in the long run. Instead, he's full of excuses why he can't get ahead and thus will be in the same place in five years as he is now.

It's sad and I'm sorry for him. I hope he can eventually pull himself out of it.

Min. Wage

To weigh in on the conversation, it has been my experience that your degree and your skill set needn't match up necessarily. You have a degree which is a great asset and there are still some employers who look for just that - regardless of your skill set.

In today's workforce, many people switch careers (in fact, most people are expected to make about 4 major career changes in their working lives). That means their skill set doesn't necessarily match their degrees anymore - and employers are getting used to seeing that.

What if... you choose a topic of interest (let's say programming with PHP). And let's say you could find 2 or 3 hours of spare time each week. With all the free resources on the web, could you not teach yourself a new skill? Probably in a matter of just a few months(?).

Commit to it and burn it into your mind that you HAVE to do it. Believe me - necessity is the mother of all invention (progress in this case) - and yes, I'm speaking from experience.

By the way, if you do get comfortable with programming , or writing, or organizing, etc., you'd be surprised at how many freelance sites are out there where you could bid on jobs and make extra money.

Just my 2 cents...

All the best,

People not saving for retirement is a huge issue here in the UK too. Our state retirement pension is barely enough to pay for essentials like food and many of our company retirement schemes are closing down or collapsing because they're simply too costly to run. People know there's a problem, yet they won't take responsibility for their own future. A major survey released here this week found that less than half of UK adults think they'll be in a financial position to retire at 65, and more than five million (that's alomst 10 per cent of the entire UK population of all ages)are so short of cash they expect to have to work until they drop. Depressing, isn't it?

It is perhaps not as bleak as it seems. A third are poor and will rely on SS alone. Another third have pensions which are most likely among those over 55 although the value may be less than optimal. The remaining third have savings but probably also less than optimal. If they own their home by retirement, they could be in fairly good shape.

Minimum Wage,

Something just doesn't add up here. You can access the internet, type in complete sentences, spell correctly, are financially sophisticated enough to read this site and know what a reverse mortgate is, yet you earn minimum wage? It just doesn't make any sense.

A liberal arts degree isn't exactly a guaranteed path to riches. In fact I would tell young people starting college to major in an engineering discipline or business if they don't want to go to grad school (or doubt they could afford it).

But a liberal arts degree still isn't so worthless that minimum wage is the best you can do with it. In fact I'm sure tons of people have eventually gone on to excellent careers after earning liberal arts degrees...even without grad school. They just had to work a little bit harder after college than the engineering majors. Nothing wrong with that.

As for the minor in computer science: a computer science education is supposed to teach you the theory behind how all computers work, not how to use any one particular computer or programming language. The fact that PCs came along and displaced mainframes shouldn't matter much. I majored in computer science in college, and I expect that at some point in my career another revolution in computer technology will happen. It won't leave me behind though, because I won't let that happen.

College aside, just Minimum Wage's evident ability to write is enough to get a job paying a modest salary with benefits.

For that matter, even illiterate high school dropouts can do better than minimum wage, at least where I live.

So I would go farther than FMF: only self-hatred, mental illness, physical disability, substance abuse, or some combination of those can explain why someone who went to college at all would earn minimum wage.

Just weighing in as someone a little younger than the article targets...

I'm 31 and also have a liberal arts degree. I started out as a botanist working for a major school making $17,000/year with no benefits (nice, huh?). I realized early on that while everyone says, "You can do whatever you want to in life" that it isn't always true. I'd still love to do pure research, but no one is willing to pay what you need for that. So, now I'm in a completely different field.

I realize that I will likely have to provide for myself without SS, which is fine since I don't like the idea of it anyway. I would rather not pay into it since I won't see it, but some folks are going to rely on it, and I'd end up paying for it one way or another. I had an older friend sit me down when I was 23 and chew me out about investing, so I did (more out of fear than planning).

My salary has doubled 3 times in the last 7 years, only because I'm willing to make the sacrifices I need to in order to be self sufficient. Yes, I had loans as well as credit card debt, but I was pretty boring for about 4 years and paid all of it off. People just need to realize that a few years of sacrifice is worth the financial independence.

My point on the rest of the article is this: Many people will be provided for by those who are in my position. I don't feel obligated to pay for someone else's missteps, but my accounts with more liquidity are put aside for helping out anyone in my family who will need it when the time arises. If you really want to make a difference, petition to get rid of home economics and typing classes in your public school system and replace them with personal finance classes.

My other gripe is with retirement. Yeah, it would be great to sit back for 20 or 30 years of doing only what you want. But really folks, retirement isn't a right. You have to work for it. So, when I hear people gripe about not being able to retire, I want to slap them back to reality. I don't know that I'll be able to retire, but I'm working my $$$ off to at least be in a position to not pass on anything but wealth to my family.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Start a Blog


  • Any information shared on Free Money Finance does not constitute financial advice. The Website is intended to provide general information only and does not attempt to give you advice that relates to your specific circumstances. You are advised to discuss your specific requirements with an independent financial adviser. Per FTC guidelines, this website may be compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs or otherwise. All posts are © 2005-2012, Free Money Finance.