A Family Talk: Saving For Retirement

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I had a short conversation with my father and grandmother on how they are saving/saved for retirement. My grandmother retired from 2 companies after 20 years, one being a military contract job. She receives a double pension from both companies. She didn’t put any money into a 401k (she said that it didn’t exist yet), but she and my grandfather invested a little in “stock and all that.”  They also invested in a nice house, the resale of which brought them good returns. More recently, she was a victim of a confidence scheme which took all of her savings. She has applied for social security, and is now living with my father.  I asked her if her she considers her retirement plan successful, and she thinks that despite the current situation, she was able to enjoy a good retirement from years of dedicated work. I mentioned that I believe the double pension to be a relic of the past, and that it would not be an option for very many people in the future, and she agreed. She thinks “it’s all catching up with us.” I mentioned a ‘bubble’, and she said “yes, a bubble.”

My father has never saved for retirement, but does receive a small pension from General Dynamics after a workplace injury. He is often heard saying that he’ll have to “work until he is dead.” He says it’s a good idea to “own stuff,” like vehicles and property, which you can sell in a pinch. He is not hopeful for a retirement in any sense.  Understanding the economic situation our planet is in, I am inclined to agree with my father, but I’m not willing to submit myself to a lifetime of work.  My future appears to be odd jobs, or self-entrepreneurship. In that case, I won’t be signing up for a 401k, or be matched by any company any time soon.  In all seriousness, I find that my only hope is to get rich from my ideas. I told my father that, and he nodded, “Your generation is stuck until you fix it.”  My plan is a hybrid of my fathers: invest in local, tangible things of value; and mine: get rich because you have to. I will never feel comfortable with investments or savings plans held electronically, because I believe that system ready to implode.

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