Baby Boomer Retirement Advice

Bloggified by Jake on Thursday, October 13, 2016

Got some financial advice from a retired baby boomer today. The good news is the tip of my tongue is still attached despite how much I had to bite it throughout the lecture.

The crux of his advice was that whenever you get a raise, you should put it all in your 401(k). "Obviously, you can live on what you're making, so you won't even miss it," he posited.

What isn't obvious to a man who got an aerospace engineering job immediately out of college in 1983 with a degree he was able to pay for with a minimum wage summer job is that I can't live on what I'm making.

Getting a raise means I will have to start making larger payments on the $85,000 in student loans I will never pay off in my lifetime.

Getting a raise means I may finally get a bridge to replace the tooth that literally rotted out of my head more than ten years ago because I didn't have dental insurance until the last four years, and the coverage I do have won't kick in to cover bridges or implants until I spend $3500 out of my own pocket.

Getting a raise a year ago meant I was able to buy new tires to replace the bald ones I'd been driving on for 42,000 miles, two of which had slow leaks.

Getting a raise means I might finally be able to afford an apartment where I don't have to share a bedroom with my son.

Getting a raise means I could put a sufficient amount of money into my HSA that if one of my kids or I get injured, my immediate thought doesn't have to be declaring bankruptcy.

Getting a raise means I would be able to put a couple bucks toward paying for my kids to go to college instead of relying 100% on grants or scholarships.

Getting a raise means I can take my kids on vacations where they'll experience a world beyond the horse track on the far north side of town.

Getting a raise means I could start digging myself out of years of debt I've built up paying for luxuries like car insurance, indoor living, bedbug extermination, clothing for growing kids, and gasoline.

Furthermore, assuming there isn't another huge financial crash in our future--which seems inevitable regardless of next month's election--my 401(k) will never reach a level where I can comfortably retire. If I wanted to get it to $500,000, I'd need to be contributing roughly 40% of every paycheck. And that's if I put off retirement until I'm 70. My 401(k) is really more like a life insurance policy, since I will never collect it myself and it will go to my kids. The main difference being I could have a $400,000 life insurance policy for what I putting into the 401(k), instead of leaving my kids with a couple grand each.

The baby boomer didn't have time to listen to all that. He had to get back up to his second home in Prescott.

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