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Old 02-27-2016, 12:15 PM
 
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I know it's very long but, wow talk about a topic…this one prompted by a new thread about how much people have saved for retirement. I hope this doesn't ramble too much, and is SOMEWHAT coherent.

What are some of your thoughts about how you've seen the CONCEPT OF RETIREMENT change over the years: how it's paid for, what's expected during those years.

It's not just money…it's also how people have changed their attitudes about WORK, their own lives, and saving as well..on personal levels and societally as well.

And for reallll old timers their formative mindset about work and saving was already set, because there WAS no Soc. Security until they were already adults. So it was a happy surprise…not expected from age 25.

Some previous generations didn't know what "retirement" was. They worked until they died. But then again those were the "workers." The rich or wealthy worked early on to BUILD their empires, but then their MONEY worked for them. And of course the workaholic types, worked until they keeled over, no matter how wealthy they were.

-- Did it all change with the success of the "retirements" of the WWII generation? Or was is depression era babies who saved every dime so they were able to retire (those tow generations sort of over lap a bit)….and then THEIR kids, the baby boomers sort of expected that THEY would get to retire?

(Was it a mistake of start the social safety net, or did we make a mistake in how it was used?)

-- Did the boomers change it all with their ME, ME ME mind set. Because once you start that kind of thinking it's only natural that you would ask yourself do I really WANT to work until I drop?

-- Then you have the LUCK of living and working during BOOM years, instead of bust years. Look at the challenges facing Millennials and some Gen X an Yers, and this younger. People graduating from college tens of thousands of dollars in debt -- with no great job prospects. Is that doom and gloom or reality? (Of course another issue is did society as a whole make a mistake pushing everyone into college?) (One guy called a radio show saying he was more than 200K in student loan debt -- just getting a B.A. accounting degree. The host was speechless. Thought the young man was crazy for doing that. But it was done so what could you do but TRY to give him advice for going forward.)

-- And there's the serendipity of life as far as one's health, or the health of a child. Look at how having a disabled child, or having bad health it at the wrong time can throw a monkey wrench into ANY plan. So I guess we need that social safety net?

-- and of course there's also the FINANCIAL part of retirement. and how if you never "achieve" economically then you just might work all your life whether you want to or had planned to or not. But that ebbs and flows too. I see articles about how some college grads are LOATHE to take on debt -- just like -- full circle….our depression baby grandparents were.

I just find the entire psychology and sociology of retirement an interesting topic….especially as I'm approaching my own (hoped-for) retirement. It touches on soo many aspects and sectors of society...
ALSO PLEASE if any one knows about how retirement is thought of or financed in other countries PLEASE POST. I'd love to know if the retirement concept is different in Italy or the U.K. or CANADA, or even Russia or Zimbabwe, South Africa or Brazil, or China, or India, or wherever….

------------------------

I mentioned changing attitudes about work…because at 55. I think I've lived long enough to see and notice some changes.
Mom had a pension and Soci and savings. Did fine, thank god didn't out live her savings. But that's luck of the draw isn't it? Same with an aunt, who was only a live in governess/housekeeper/majordomo. Had savings and Soc Secur. Lived a simple retirement but still took inexpensive trips, etc. She also did not outlive her money. They both worked until 80.

Then there's me the late-stage baby-boomer who at 55 can't WAIT to retire. I dream of it every day. and have my eyes on 65. I'd quit and retire tomorrow if I could. I just don't want to work anymore. I'm burned out. I think there are MANY more people like me, than before. Our jobs may not be as physical. But they're MENTALLY draining. More of us are sandwiched between kids and aging parents. The little bit of caregiving I did for my aunt -- and years later my mom -- burned me out completely. ARE THERE MORE PEOPLE LIKE ME NOW during these times. OR...WERE THERE ALWAYS THEY JUST DIDN'T HAVE THE CONCEPT OF RETIREMENT LOOMING LIKE A CARROT IN FRONT OF THEM. SO THEIR ENTIRE MIND SET WAS DIFFERENT?

Then for others add on perhaps how the work environment has changed. A LOT of people HATE their jobs, either what they're doing or where they're working…so THEY don't want to work anymore either. I'm DONE with working. I go in, mark my time, do just enough not to get fired, and hope to coast for 9 1/2 more years.

BUT I also have saved a BIT. I'm lucky enough to have a pension coming (Lord willing). As a late-boomer all I can do is pray I (us as a whole) don't get screwed by any future changes to Soc. Medicare, health care, elder care, etc.

Last edited by selhars; 02-27-2016 at 12:30 PM..
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Old 02-27-2016, 04:25 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles area
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One historical change is the demise of the defined benefit pension coupled with lifetime healthcare which used to be offered by the big manufacturers to everyone regardless of skill levels, including auto assembly line workers. Remaining with the auto makers as an example, in the 1950's there was no real international competition for American auto makers as the rest of the industrialized world was still rebuilding from the devastation of their factories and housing in World War II. So the auto workers unions asker for the moon, and pretty much received it. Why not? The companies bought their labor peace at a price which was fine for them in the short term. That was a brief few decades in the history of the world during which unskilled and semi-skilled workers had pretty lavish pay and pretty lavish retirement benefits. There had never been, and in my opinion there never again will be such a period.

What killed all that was the rise of competition. The Japanese auto makers, for example, were not burdened with the tremendous lifetime medical costs of their retirees, as were General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. So the American firms, fat dumb and happy, found themselves lagging in quality control as well as beset by high labor costs. They lost market share to the Japanese and lost huge gobs of money.

Some things are just not sustainable, and that includes the minset that auto workers (and many others) would work for 30 years and retire with a good pension AND lifetime medical coverage. It's a tougher world now.

I don't claim to have covered the whole post war period in my brief remarks. I already know the identity of a poster or two who will chime in in similar fashion about how many public employee pensions are also unsustainable. There seems to be great anger and resentment on that topic.
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Old 02-27-2016, 04:57 PM
 
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"Did the boomers change it all with their ME, ME ME mind set. Because once you start that kind of thinking it's only natural that you would ask yourself do I really WANT to work until I drop?"



Let us see if I understand this Me, Me, Me mind set. Is this the same generation that finished help for the post WWII recovery of Europe and Japan and then watched while the European countries and Japan provided full medical coverage and livable pensions for their citizens? Is this the same generation that helped protect the rest of the world from Soviet and Chinese aggression? And paid for wars in Korea and Vietnam and the Middle East? And has contributed hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign aid? Is this the same generation that has seen taxes grow and has seen the infrastructure crumble and the benefits of those taxes go down and down?


Is this the same generation that paid the social security and medicare benefits of the last generation? Is this the same generation that has paid into those funds since they started to work and now hears that the funds are not sustainable?

Frankly I am missing the me, me, me part.
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Old 02-28-2016, 05:36 AM
 
Location: Central Massachusetts
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Change is inevitable. That is the one constant we all can count on. What is more at issue is how quickly does the next generation adapt to the change? Do they not see what is happening and not plan for the future as the new changes want them to do? How quickly they adapt to the new reality does make a difference.
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Old 02-28-2016, 07:49 AM
 
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We hear a lot about adapting and trying to succeed in today's society. Too bad. In the 60's we used to feel that change was in the air. Somehow that fell flat. We now seem more in need of change than ever. Watching the current political trends, we are clearly not going to see that happen. Young people used to be about causes, ideals and change. That seems to have ended and young people are just trying to adapt by finding jobs and paying off their student loans.
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Old 02-28-2016, 10:50 AM
 
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One other factor is that work seems to have changed. My father, a WW2 soldier to give you all an age, worked as a high level manager, and yet walked through the door around 6 every night to a dinner set on the table, where we all had a lively time. He and my mother bowled in a league, golfed every weekend, had a large garden to tend. He attended all of our school time activities. He also sang in the church choir, and went to practice one evening a week. And he was a success and much loved.

Now, people are being worked to death. 60+ hours is the norm. Have a family and now try to get a little time off to go see the kid in chorus recital. If you manage it, the other office workers will resent the hell out of you. Even then, you'll be in constant contact. With cell phones, you're attached to work 24/7.

It's no wonder we dream of retirement.
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Old 02-28-2016, 10:56 AM
 
Location: Great State of Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallysmom View Post
One other factor is that work seems to have changed. My father, a WW2 soldier to give you all an age, worked as a high level manager, and yet walked through the door around 6 every night to a dinner set on the table, where we all had a lively time. He and my mother bowled in a league, golfed every weekend, had a large garden to tend. He attended all of our school time activities. He also sang in the church choir, and went to practice one evening a week. And he was a success and much loved.

Now, people are being worked to death. 60+ hours is the norm. Have a family and now try to get a little time off to go see the kid in chorus recital. If you manage it, the other office workers will resent the hell out of you. Even then, you'll be in constant contact. With cell phones, you're attached to work 24/7.

It's no wonder we dream of retirement.
But in many ways what has happened is our own doing.

When I worked on a global team the Germans stopped at a set time.
There was no 24/7/365 like there is in the US. They have strict labor laws regarding that.
Software emergencies had to wait until they came into work the next day.

Boy did I enjoy being on that team No 10pm phone calls with "emergency fix needed".
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Old 02-28-2016, 11:36 AM
 
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Originally Posted by HappyTexan View Post
But in many ways what has happened is our own doing.

When I worked on a global team the Germans stopped at a set time.
There was no 24/7/365 like there is in the US. They have strict labor laws regarding that.
Software emergencies had to wait until they came into work the next day.

Boy did I enjoy being on that team No 10pm phone calls with "emergency fix needed".
Americans always worked harder and longer than Europeans. We scoffed at their 2 hour mid-day meal in Italy, France, Spain. We looked down on their one-month long summer vacations. We prided ourselves that we all owned cars, had washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers in our homes because of our strong work ethic. At that time, energy was cheap, medical care was cheaper, home ownership was cheaper. We didn't worry so much about being able to afford buying medicine and knew there would be a retirement income from working 20 or more years at the same bank, insurance company, factory, department store. My neighbor worked as a sales clerk at Macys for 25 years and was able to retire from her pension from Macys. There are no more gold watches. The Germans and the Asians have strong work ethics too, but they put social service safety nets into their structure after WWII.
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Old 02-28-2016, 12:47 PM
 
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So why is it that we work harder and harder and have less to show? We don't have long afternoon breaks or month long vacations or 20 holidays/year. We still cannot afford to retire, to provide citizens with healthcare, day care or a reasonable safety net for retirement. Our politicians instead tell us we need to expect less and less. The government just cannot afford to pay for benefits.


Where is our money going? We seem to have plenty to become involved in politics of every nation in the world. We seem to afford to spend hundreds of billions in the middle east. We have wasted enough in Afghanistan to send every citizen of that country to Harvard. We spend billions on the Egyptian army, tens of billions in Korea, huge amounts on homeland security. We even pay bribes to Iran in the hopes that they will stop building nuclear weapons and stop supporting terrorists. Instead of trying to make the rest of the world follow our political system, maybe we need to make it work first.
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Old 02-28-2016, 01:12 PM
 
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Yes we do live in interesting times…

-- How quickly WILL young people adapt to changing technologies and economies.
-- Will those of us late-stage boomers -- say 52-56 -- be able to 'hang on' and have the kind of retirement we've worked and saved for?

It IS interesting to compare the U.S. social safety net for workers AND retirees -- whatever that is -- to European or other countries' systems. But some of those countries also having their "issues." Still -- retirement is Denmark isn't looking like a bad thing (given that I don't really know about it. I HEAR that E.U countries are making changes. But I haven't heard that retirees in Holland or France are eating dog food or living on the street.

All we can do is make the best choices personally and politically that we think are right at the time -- and make plans for us to do what we need to. If that means shared housing, or pooling resources -- or having some advantageous personal or private side deals or "underground" or "under the table" arrangements -- so be it.
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