//On Retirement

On Retirement

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My father built a marina in Cape Vincent, NY, back in the early sixties. Cape Vincent, a tiny village of 795, sits where the St. Lawrence River meets Lake Ontario, about three hours north and east of Rochester. At the time, Rochester was home to such mega-employers as Kodak, Xerox, and Bausch & Lomb. My father had noticed that many of the blue-collar employees affiliated with these companies owned cabin cruises for which they needed safe harbor, not to mention fuel, storage, and maintenance. My father happily accommodated them with his marina.

Most of these blue-collar workers were the beneficiaries of liberal pension plans that would allow them to retire comfortably, which, over the 1960’s and 70’s, they did, in droves. Life was good.

But then things changed, as they are prone to do. Both Kodak and Xerox missed the boat, so to say, regarding technology changes in their respective industries, and were unable to compensate. The savings and loan crisis followed, and then the dot-com bubble, and then the Great Recession. Downsizing and outsourcing began to thrive; employment diminished; pensions all but disappeared. Aspirations sunk.

And not just in Rochester. The economy as a whole suffered a massive transformation. As a result, the ways and means to retirement – not just for blue-collar workers, but for most workers – were transformed from each employee showing up at work every day for thirty years, to each one accumulating enough money on his or her own to fund 25 to 30 years of retirement, with little help from the stock market, which, in the days of the guaranteed pension, could be counted on to appreciate an average of 10% per year.

Unfortunately, the pension-less, forced-to-go-it-alone employee of today has managed to save, on average, a grand total of $24k for retirement. How much is needed? Most financial advisors agree that, for a 65-year-old couple faced with funding a 25- to 30-year retirement, it would take a nest egg of between $1M and $1.5M for them to live in modest comfort, without fear of running out of money during their lifetime.

Alas, we have come a long way from a cabin cruiser in every slip.

2019-02-16T20:13:08+00:00February 16th, 2019|Uncategorized|4 Comments


  1. Barry Cook February 19, 2019 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    Since the American dream of my youth – a dream that came true for many in my generation, there have been major shifts in life expectancy and age of entry into the workforce. The baby boomers entered the workforce at a young age, contributing to their retirement savings and Social Security through steady work with good pay and benefits. But many of us still run out of resources because we live into our 80s and 90s, often without enough health insurance.
    Younger generations might be said to take their retirement in their 20s, supported by loans and parental financial support – and enter the work force later in life with employers and a government that provide less of a social safety net – and these workers are typically burdened with servicing the debt for their higher education. They need a different kind of American Dream. When I know what that is, I’ll complete this paragraph.

    • TomF February 20, 2019 at 4:05 pm - Reply

      In regard to financing a traditional retirement in our culture, as it has evolved, what about the possibility of implementing the concept of a guaranteed minimum income for all, birth to death, to eliminate any need for piecemeal safety-net programs, including social security? I believe this concept is active in one or more of the Scandinavian countries. Finland? Denmark? As for myself, I fear it is too late now to implement such a massive program on a universal scale, that the window of opportunity for doing anything of the kind has passed, just as all opportunity to update or replace our badly broken Constitution has passed, forevermore.

  2. Matt Fitzgerald February 17, 2019 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    We have indeed. I have made retirement planning a high priority since I was fresh out of college, and with remarkably little to show for it after 25 years.

    • TomF February 17, 2019 at 10:02 pm - Reply

      Here’s a guaranteed way to fire up the stock market. Drop out if it! ☺

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