Treasury Department official, surrounded by pa...

Okay – I retired last year and I’m worried about you ~ the Generation X’ers and the Gen Y’s.  These are my own thoughts and I need to get them out of my system, so I can say “Well, I gave it a shot.”  If I sound like your mother, or your grandmother, I probably do ~ heed the advice.  I’ve put in more than a few links – you don’t have to open them, just  start saving today!  If you’re a Senior, please pass this along to your young people and add your thoughts too.

I retired from full-time employment, from a full-time career that paid my house and car gas, my electric, phone, cable, credit cards, rent, and food bills; from a job that funded my Friday night bar tabs, Saturday shopping excursions, Sunday tithing and brunches, vacations, and even vet bills; from a paycheck that took care of my health, life, and car insurances; and from a business that contributed to my retirement savings plans.

Now what ?  To jump into my concern ~ After this first year of writing my own paychecks, I’m worried about the Gen X’ers, and the Gen Y’s ~ if you were born after 1960, that’s you. Seriously, whatever is happening to me, a Baby Boomer, and all my kith and kin, is in the present, it’s a done deal, while those Gen X & Y’s are in the future – for retirement, that’s 20 to 40 years down the road.

Here’s a recent US Chart on life expectancy which proposes that if you were born 30 years ago, you’ve a 50% chance of dying before age 73 while the other 50% continues to party on.  That 73 number may not sound reasonable, but 100 years ago, the break-even age was around 48.  As the chart unravels this data six ways to Sunday, I’ve rounded out those numbers.

With advances in health care and environmental developments, you could live another 25 years after you retire. Or maybe that’s where the 50/50 chance comes in ~ my Baby Boomer generation is dying of cancer caused by smoking yet the Gen X’s & Y’s are still smoking.

If you work full-time from the time you’re 25 or so, saving religiously toward retirement, then retire at 65 or 70, will you, how will you, have monies to pay for your living expenses that continue, while some that your employer has been covering, begin the day after you leave your job?

Look it up, search the web ~ keywords “Gen Y Retirement;” by the time you’re 65, you’ll need roughly $2 million in the bank to retire.  That’s putting away about $100 a week ~ for forever ~ until you retire anywhere near 65.  And you had to start saving 5 or 10 years ago.

Now what ?  Do you see why I worry for you?

Mary, a 67-year-old retired friend, says she has enough money in her retirement accounts to live for another 20 years in the style she’s accustomed to.  Her Aunt Joan, who retired at 70, is now 80, has 50K left and is now moving into her 45-year-old daughter’s house ~ in thrift-store-basement-apartment conversation style.

Now what?   There is no free ride.  It doesn’t matter if you’re single, married, divorced, or widowed, after you get that final paycheck, with all its deductions listed, you’re now the responsible party ~ your bills and expenses are on the horizon.

Carol, another retiree friend, doesn’t carry life insurance on herself.  “How will you be buried?”  I asked, almost choking on my Margarita.  Carol said she didn’t care ~ she’s willed everything to her only child and he can do whatever he wants with the good china, the good silver, and her damn good, but now dead, body.  GULP!

Now what?   With the Social Security changes, you’ll have to be 66 to start collecting and no way, 30 or 40 years from now, will it be enough to meet your “nut”   Will Medicare, with all its options, take care of your medical / prescriptions needs?  Or will you be paying those bills too out of your savings?

By the way, what’s your nut today?  Do you plan to duplicate it when you retire ?   Can you ?  Are you supposed to be living frugally now and planning for retirement or should you live well now and tighten your belt later?   In 30 or 40 years will you be able to physically climb the Matterhorn or mentally conquer the NYT Saturday crossword?  (I can definitely live without the alpine air but I need to get to Thursday’s puzzle.)

Now what?   Everything goes up in price.   I remember my Dad’s gas being less than fifty cents a gallon and my Mom’s cigarettes being less than fifty cents a pack, in the 1960’s.  If you pay $100 a week for food today, will you be paying $100 for less food or $300 a week for the same food when you retire?  Duh.   How about a car ~ do you need a car for retirement?  Do you buy it, finance it, before or after you retire?  How will you be paying for it – out of those retirement savings?

And those commercials ~ senior citizens holding hands, going merrily along their way are senior citizens now, not  30 or 40-year-old folks.   Believe me – planning ahead was never so relevant as it is now with retirement in your future.

Please, I / we? worry about you ~ start saving today.  

Yours ’till, Kate