If you are 30-something, are you worried about your financial security in retirement?
A survey by the Pew Research Center, as reported by Hope Yen of The Associated Press, says Americans in their late 30s are more worried about retirement than those of the Baby Boom Generation.
The 30-somethings should be concerned. However, they have time to do the right things.
If you are in this group, think about the following: your job, your pension (if you have been promised one), your lifestyle, your spending habits, your free time.
First, your job. No matter how “good” your job is, it may not last forever. Your forebears saw complete industries go from thriving to dead – or at least on life support — in a generation. If you have or had grandparents who worked in a factory, is that factory still around? Remember, your grandparents thought that job was as good as gold, and it probably was FOR THEM. But they may have lived to see those jobs disappear – something they never expected when they were your age.
No matter what industry you are in now, EXPECT it to change. New technology is making the way we do things differ by the day. What you are doing now may not even resemble what you may be doing as you approach retirement. Can you live with that? Will you see the changes BEFORE they hit you, so you can act accordingly? It’s difficult to anticipate change you don’t know is coming, but regardless of how your job, or industry, changes, your expectation of change will serve you well.
Second, your pension. If you are lucky enough to have a pension as part of your employment package, count your blessings. However, at this stage of your life, your pension is little more than a promise, unless you are contributing your own money toward it. We are seeing pension promises broken every day, and those older than you are having retirement planning disintegrate before their eyes.
Do you have a parent who is at or near retirement age but has to keep working because everything they’d worked for has all but disappeared? From your vantage point, you can learn from this. Start now to save for your retirement. How YOU prepare your own resources for retirement will make a difference in how and when you will be able to retire. Remember, the retirement planning that you do, with your own money, can’t be taken from you. It can go up and down with the markets, but your own money and efforts are yours forever. It’s a promise you can keep for yourselves.
Promises from employers can be broken. If your parents have or had an employer that is keeping its pension promise, they are very lucky. Even unionized or government pensions are coming under scrutiny. If you are employed in a unionized or government environment, and you are in your 30s, don’t expect the promises made to you today to hold up at, say, age 60. If you plan that things will go away, and they don’t, that’s a bonus for you.
Third, your lifestyle. In this age of ever-changing gadgets, people wait in long lines for fancier phones, etc. People want what’s hot. They want it even though they know that the minute they get it, something else will make it obsolete. When your grandparents and parents were young, they may have bought a TV or a radio, or a stereo system. They expected to use it for decades without replacing it. Today, people replace their gadgets annually, if not more frequently, so they can have the latest, trendy thing. If you have a gadget that works for you, think long and hard before replacing it. Your friends may laugh at you for having “old” technology, but you’ll have the last laugh when you put the money that you would have spent on the newest gadget into your retirement fund.
We’ll talk more about spending habits and free time next week. Meanwhile, as you ponder your retirement and fret about what it will look like, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. This may be one way you can put your mind at ease when it comes to retirement. Who knows? It might even put you on the road to retiring EARLY!
Time is on your side. Things you do – or don’t do – today may determine the type of retirement you will have. Think hard, and choose wisely.

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