It is not Golden Pond We are at the Wrong End of the Pyramid

It has been said by a wise man “Don’t lay any certain plans for the future it is like planting toads and expecting to raise toadstools “

However it has become a common image now and everyone’s dream of retirement: crotchety and loveable Henry Fonda grumbling at Katherine Hepburn, who is bravely carrying wood, in their summer home full the past, with enough money to keep their memories untarnished and their lifestyle as comfortable as ever. Their problems are their health, their relationship with each other, their daughter’s happiness.

However in reality we may not all this lucky,

That is what we all want, from life as from retirement: to go on as we are, coping and enjoying, but with maybe a little more time for enjoying.

In other scenarios, retired couples take cruises; tour North America in mobile homes. And even take trips to such far away places as Eastern Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

However North America – the United States and Canada are aging societies. Both the numbers and the percentages of the population that is elderly are increasing. The last Big Generation in our society is the “Baby Boomers, so called as they were born in the period following World War 2 period. The servicemen had returned home from the war theatres of Europe and Asia, the women returned from the factories to the kitchen and bedroom, resulting in a period of prosperity and a family life with many children.

It is predicted according to current trends that by the year 2031, when the last of the “Baby Boomers” will have reached age sixty five, the elderly are projected to number close to 25 % of the population.

We are end the wrong end of the Pyramid. It is unreasonable to expect fewer and fewer young people to support more and more old people as the years go on and the balance of age/youth continues to tip. Those Baby Boomers coming along are going to upend the pyramid, by the time they are old there will be fewer people in the work force paying taxes to keep a disproportionate number of retirees afloat. There just will not be enough money.

Already, it has been rumored that the mandatory retirement ages of 65 will be pushed back. Indeed the origin of the magic retirement age of 65 was that the first pensions were introduced by the Kaiser in Germany pre world war 1. The average life span of the male worker was coincidentally 65 – hence payouts of retirement pensions were of no great financial consequence then. However the magic number has stayed.

Governments cannot do it all. Many people expect the wonderful government to take care of them. It has been said that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Ultimately the money for support services comes from taxpayers. If there are more people drawing on the funds than there are people contributing to them, what is going to happen?

It does not take a rocket surgeon to predict that the well is going to run dry.

As for employers, it would be unrealistic (although it would be nice) to expect them to look after us. Less than 50 % of the population is at present covered by private pension and health care plans, and few of these plans are adequate.

It is almost always the case that only in the last number of years before retirement do most people pay any attention to their retirement plans at work and indeed any planning towards their retirement,. Many are shocked to discover how they are not rather than properly covered.

It is for this reason that proper financial planning and savings towards your retirement is essential from your first work day not the last several years before retirement.

As the noted economist R. Stern has stated – It is not what you earn but rather what you save that counts.