Strictly speaking, the Social Security program worked out really well for Ernest Ackerman, a Cleveland trolley car operator. But, you will need more than Social Security benefits to see you through the golden years. Here are the basics....
Planning Your Retirement
by Jim Ray
Will your golden years be delightful or disastrous?
Strictly speaking, the Social Security program worked out really well for Ernest Ackerman, a Cleveland trolley car operator. He was the very first person to receive a Social Security benefit…in 1937. The law went into effect the day before he retired – a nickel was withheld from his pay for his one day of participation in the program – and he received a lump-sum benefit of 17 cents from the government.
That’s a tidy profit for a one da investment, but probably not enough to cover all of Ernest’s retirement needs. You, too, will need more than Social Security benefits to see you through the golden years. Here are the basics:
Start saving now
Compound interest is a tremendous force. It works against you with a home mortgage or credit card debt, but it’s an ally in planning for retirement. The key: You must live below your means and save diligently. Whether you are 16 or 60, the single most important thing you can do to prepare for the future is to save, starting today.
It’s amazing but true: Millions of Americans turn down free money every day. If your employer has a matching program as part of its 401(k) plan and you’re not participating, that’s what you’re doing. Find out how much you need to contribute to receive the maximum employer match. Invest that much or more.
Expect inflation erosion
Count on it – almost everything gets more expensive over time (when Ernest retired, a gallon of gas was ten cents). Even if you plan to enjoy a low budget retirement from your couch instead of, say, a cruise ship, it’s going to cost more than your Social Security check.
Your quality of life in retirement depends on your decisions today. Get focused now on fortifying your financial future.
Jim Ray is a writer, consultant and estate gift planner. He works for the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews and lives in Nashville, TN.