Follow by Email

StatCounter

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Best laid retirement plans



I was talking with a buddy of mine a couple days ago. He mentioned that after he put 31 years into the company, they are doing away with the old retirement plan. The defined benefit plan will be replaced with a 401. Those investment plans can be fine -if you are young and the market is booming. For someone nearing retirement age, in this economy, not so good.

At least he's still working and might get something at retirement age. Lots of good jobs have gone away. The retirement dreams are quickly replaced by day to day survival nightmares.

My dad lives in a Florida retirement park. It's not one of the high end ones, but it's nice. There are indoor and outdoor pools, fishing ponds, game rooms, pool tables, and recreation centers. Sure, it's a trailer park, but the lots are good size and tree shaded. Most of the people there are from what was the middle class. Defined benefit retirement plans were a lot more common for his generation.

It should come as no surprise that in a place full of old people there's a lot of turn over. Even in a nice warm climate, no one lives forever. Places in the park were in demand, so trailers didn't sit empty long. Until now that is. Say a 90 year old person passes on. There aren't as many 65 year old people who can afford to retire in the style of their parents. Often when a place is sold, it's bought by an older person who's still working.

There's a whole economy based on retired people with time and a few dollars to spend. It's a smaller economy now.

So what's a person to do? A growing number of people are looking at self reliant survival skills as part of their retirement plan. Better to invest in solar electric panels on the roof than pension plans that won't pay out. They are planting fruit and nut trees, learning to garden, and cooking from basic ingredients. My buddy has been practicing and developing survival skills for years. He never dreamed he'd need them for a comfortable retirement.

Another friend of mine was downsized from a good middle management job. He went from a house to a trailer in a park. Later, he sold the trailer and bought a second hand RV for $3500 and traveled around in that for a while. As he and his wife got older and more infirm, they sold the RV and moved to a family farm house in Vermont shared with three extended families. Between a little outside income and what they raised on the farm, everyone got by. My friend ended his days broke, but surrounded by family and friends. It could be worse.

-Sixbears

19 comments:

  1. I hate to hear greedy companies blamed for our ills all the time, but sometimes, that's exactly what caused the retirement problems of retirees. And the government let it happen. (I hate to hear all our problems blamed on the government, too.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are quite the team of trouble makers sometimes.

      Delete
  2. For some, growing old is a very scary business and there are plenty of businesses here in New Zealand too who are just there to fleece the aged of whatever they might have left.
    The Greedy and the Needy.
    Some don't have a choice but if I'm able I'll end it all before I can no longer look after myself and enjoy my lifestyle.
    If I'm able...

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am afraid many of us will wind up like your friend,I just hope we have family and friends around us.

    China
    III

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, he was happy, the last time I saw him.

      Delete
  4. It sounds like turning a hobby into a small part time business might be helpful to folks living on a small income.

    A man we know who is retired fixes lawn mowers for reasonable prices so does a pretty good business - his customers come to him, doing the delivery and pickup of the items. It doesn't pay ALL the bills, but it does make a dent in some of them, and this along with his Social Security lets him get by.

    My generation - I'm nearing 50 and am employed as a CAD (computer aided drafting). I should be able to continue this as long as I have my eyesight and brains (wife sez I'm doomed!, lol). I enjoy it - but will the economy continue having structures to build is the question.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good luck!

      We've all got to do something to survive.

      Delete
  5. Retirement? That word no longer exists in my vocabulary. One reason why I wanted to switch to truck driving, to save my joints so I can still work when I'm older. Everyone at the old job had blown out knees, backs, shoulders...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When you've given up your health for the job, they turn around and dump you. Best keep your health.

      Delete
  6. Retirement is a thing of the past.As bad as that sounds retirement is a relitivly new thing.Think about it.in th 1800s and early 1900s you worked till you died.Me and the wife were out riding one day and i saw a house that was set up for a retired family farm the old parent house had raised bed gardens plum fig apple peach pear trees pecans and walnuts in the yard.Out back was asmall shed with acoulpe stalls and a chicken coop and yard.Across the field was a newwer house for the kids.Now the place was in bad shape but you could see the bones were still there the parents had set the minnifarm for themselves to handle in old age and passed the working farm to the kids.AS things was they will be again.Your post sent my mind straight to that old farm.Retirement will have to reflect the past in the future.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Having a small survival farm is better than starving.

      Delete
  7. My husband plans to leave his second career at Boeing in about two or three years. He feels we will be quite secure. Me? Not so sure, but not listened to much by him. I'm working to finish the mortgage and build a sustainable greenhouse and raised bed garden complex for more serious food production. I have geese down front in the semi-wild zone, but thinking of adding ducks or chickens later.

    I get called a peasant a lot, I may as well prepare to live like one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My retirement planning came to a sudden hault due to my unplanned retirement.

      Delete
  8. A sad but truly genuine post about a growing reality in terms of how the aging population are considered in today's working environment. I believe our life experiences will kick in and we will manage our own retirements - as your article states there are many of us out there doing just that, not only by choice and necessity, but because we can!. Enjoyed your post very much SixBears.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Thanks for coming by and sharing.

      Delete
  9. Reminds me of a TED talk I heard the other day. The guy was talking about working forever because it keeps you healthy and active. Fine if you're a college professor like him, not so much for people who work their bodies hard every day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly! Plenty of jobs physically tear you down.

      Delete
    2. One of the patterns in "A Pattern Language" is "settled work". Basically the idea is you find something you can make money at in the middle of your life that you enjoy and that is not physically demanding. First you start it off as a hobby, and when you need to retire, hopefully you are good enough at it to be making a decent income.

      Delete