- There seems to be a rel shift going on in terms of retirement planning, according to the CIBC poll about Consumer Debt in Canada:
- "Two years ago, 24 per cent of respondents aged 45-64 named retirement planning as their top financial priority, which fell to just 12 per cent among that age group in this year's survey."
This is interesting because people have always had debt. So I wonder if this apparent attitudinal shift to saving and managing day-to-day bills, instead of planning for retirement, indicates that people are getting concerned about the economy and don't see their current debts as sustainable as they did previously, or if retirement planning "was selected by only seven per cent of respondents overall, down from 11 per cent last year and 13 per cent in 2011" because this generation doesn't really plan to retire in the same way that previous generations could.
In fact, I wonder if the idea of retirement was only a short term social myth that was really only relevant to the middle and upper class of the last 60 years or so, and that the "experiment" of retirement has proven a falsehood for most of the masses. For my grandfather, and generations before him, there was never really a concept of "retirement". He simply worked until he couldn't physically work any more, or died.
- Keeping in mind that the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) was only started in 1966 (the plan is younger than me and is only 47 years old), it still seems to be in its "experimental phase". A very interesting fact is that I am one of the first Canadians to pay into the plan my entire life but will also be the first recipient who will see some of these benefits start to be clawed back (I will not receive Old Age Security until 67, causing an even heavier reliance on CPP for several years).
Anyway, I would venture to guess that this drop in retirement contributions most likely reflects a straightforward shortage of household income. As a person's household income and purchasing power erodes, I have always assumed that the first thing one would naturally cut back on is the retirement investments because they are such a long term futuristic concept and having food on the table or gas in your car is an immediate functional need. I am always surprised that these great "thinkers" in the CIBC analyst pool (or any other financial think tank) release these numbers without juxtaposing them with mean and median income figures to show correlation income down, retirement savings down; income up, retirement savings up. They make it sound as though Canadians have somehow started to belief that saving for retirement is no longer an important value to them.
This was my reply:
- I believe that there are a number of factors at work here.
One of the factors that caused the shift in saving for retirement is the low interest rates for years that encouraged people to purchase cars, houses, and all sorts of other crap they don't need with easy credit. Now there is a restructuring happening to pay for this bad behavior, including raising the level for CPP and Old Age Security. There will be a lot more restructuring — such as many government worker pension plans and corporate pension plans will see the level of benefits paid out to retirees lowered dramatically.
- It's a case of the whole nation being invovled in a fraud against itself and then being penalized for it — with everyone being in denial that they contributed to the problem.
There was a time when savers were rewarded with interest rates of 10 percent or higher on GIC's. In 1990, if you had $500,000 in the bank in GIC's, you could retire comfortably off the interest of $50,000 a year. There was a real incentive to save at that time. But for years now, savers have been penalized and the debtors were rewarded. This is really stupid and most people in society are in denial that this is stupid.
Now stupid governments (in response to the stupid people that elected them) are trying to solve the problem with what created the problem — low interest rates to stimulate the economy and get people into even more debt. How insane is this? Sooner or later the pain of paying off the debts has to be felt. The longer it is put off, the greater the pain will be.
Having said this, there will still be people who retire early — those not willing to buy into the silly consumerism and the insanity that characterizes most people in society.
Here is a blog that I just listed for the ebook edition of How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free:
Retire by 40: Forget about Freedom 55. That’s for amateurs. It’s really possible to retire by 40. Joe Udo explores why it is possible to leave your day job much earlier than 65. This can be accomplished by aggressively saving and investing as soon as you start working. Many financial advisers will tell you to save 10 percent of your income for retirement. This is an OK model for some, but not for people who don’t love their jobs. For this reason you should be like Joe and his wife who have been saving and investing over 50 percent of their take-home income for many years now.
Here again are two reasons that I cite for most people having the debt levels that they have:
1. Instant gratification takes too long.
2. A necessity is any luxury that the neighbor happens to have.
In other words, elevating all your present "wants" to your "need list" is another way to trick yourself into being broke in retirement. This is what many people are doing. Spending $50 or $75 a month on a cell phone plan is not a need. It is an expensive luxury. Forrest B. has a land line and a cell phone. He needs a cell phone in addition to a land line almost as much as a giraffe needs strep throat. Forrest has made a lot of money over the years, and unless he wins a lottery or inherits some money, he will be broke in retirement. Who is to blame? Larry Wingett covers a lot of this in his book, You're Broke Because You Want to Be. As Larry Wingett says, "For anyone who gives me a bunch of excuses for why they weren't able to save, I will give you examples of people who had it a lot worse in a lower income, more living expenses, and other circumstances, and still managed to save a bundle."
I just heard this the other day: This applies to a lot of people I know, and the probems they have, including debt problems:
"I'm in love with the system that keeps me down."
— Words of a Song Heard on CKUA Radio
Regarding putting off retirement by working later, I always chuckle at studies showing that a large number of people have decided that they will work forever, instead of retiring at 60 or 65. Frankly, the majority of these people are delusional. As retirement expert Joseph F Coughlin stated, "Planning to keep working is NOT a retirement plan." This is the reality for a lot of people:
"I'm already worn out now — how do they expect us to work several years longer? My body hurts so much and I start working every day at five in the morning."
— Norbert Schmittbauer, a 50-year-old construction worker in Berlin, in response to Germany's proposal to have workers retire at 70 instead of 65
Plain and simple: Studies show that most people who had wanted or planned to work in their retirement years (60 and higher) aren't able to do so. There are about 5 important reasons why they aren't able to do so but I won't get into that.
I could go on and on about this but it would end up being a whole book.
Here are a few more great retirement quotes that I came across in articles and comments to articles, which place retirement planning in perspective.
"The top retirement planning strategy today is not to retire."
— Joseph F Coughlin
"You say you want to work past retirement? How's your health?"
— Joseph F Coughlin
Result for many Americans When They Punch in Their Data into a Retirement Calculator:
"According to your latest data if you retire today, you can live reasonably well until 5 p.m. tomorrow."
— Dave Erhard
"If you own your house and have SS, you will have a comfortable retirement. You don't "need" much else. That 401k and IRA are pure discretionary money."
"Save 15% of your money starting at age 30 and you'll be fine !! Live below your means.........or don't blow all your money !!! No fancy cars, big houses. Save your Rubles. That's what I did and just retired at 57."
"Babyboomers spent themselves into oblivion and now they are trying to take healthcare and food from the poor. Christianity sure failed, big time."
— kellamd. Alias for a person posting a comment on a USA TODAY article
"Those who didn't save for retirement should not be able to steal from those who did."
— Happily Retired Guy
"Homes are NOT investment vehicles, you morons."
— "Marine20" , Alias for a person posting a comment on a USA TODAY article about
"Treat your house as a home and not as an ATM — then you'll be fine."
— DeanG72, Alias for a person posting a comment on a USA TODAY article
"If you want the best retirement outcome possible, get rich. If that fails, consider getting married, staying married — and doing your best to die before your spouse does."
— Andrea Coombes, (This is serious — see article Half of Americans Will Die With No Money)
"While your financial assets are a good predictor of your retirement well-being, it’s worth noting that as many retirees say that they have “just enough” to live on with an annual income of $7,800 as they do with $130,000. So it’s not just how much you have, but how you want or expect to live."
— Dr. Joanne Earl, UNSW psychologist and careers expert
"A happy retirement doesn't require oodles of money, nor should it mean fighting the cat for food."
— Shelley Fralic, Vancouver Sun
“I didn’t want to die at work. I decided to start spending the money I’ve saved and enjoy it, because who knows how long I’ll live.”
— Lynda Thompson, 65, retired from being an artist for the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority who was diagnosed with cancer
To sum up, as Talbot Boggs stated, "Like life, retirement can be full of surprises. Take when you retire, for example."
One more: I can't forget the wisdom of Richard Parker:
“Retiring is easy. Staying retired — now that’s the trick!”
Actually, I wish I would have said that.
Ernie J. Zelinski
International Best-Selling Author
Helping Adventurous Souls Live Prosperous and Free
Author of the Bestseller How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free
(Over 175,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages)
and the International Bestseller The Joy of Not Working
(Over 250,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages)