Looking to the future

FI-Joe-PisaniI’m ashamed to admit that in my younger years, my priorities were all messed up.

They were, in order of importance, partying, spending, fly-fishing, partying, car payments, and more partying. And finally, last and least, was “saving for retirement,” because I figured I’d be filthy rich someday and the problem would simply take care of itself.

So, every payday, I had about $23.72 left to salt away if I didn’t squander it on cigarettes, Ballantine ale and other assorted sinful pleasures.

My partying ended, however, when my four daughters came into the world and began appropriating my paychecks for sundry expenses that included Barbie dolls, designer jeans, college tuition, and now weddings. And then, my meager nest egg cracked completely after the 2008 fiscal crisis.

I’ve always been a firm believer in the need to save for the golden years, but troubling times are upon us. Seven in 10 Americans say they won’t have enough money to retire from their jobs, and those are the ones who actually still have jobs.

The statistics are startling. Almost half of the workers surveyed recently said they “have little or no confidence” they will be able to retire comfortably. Another study concluded the average American has enough money for only 14 years of retirement, which is seven years short of what they’ll need. Is it any wonder that 30% of middle-class Americans plan to work until 80?

Social Security is on the verge of collapse and most people no longer have pension plans, so we’ll need to take drastic action, which may mean having our kids support us. I’ve tried to persuade my daughters to commit to that cause, but they’re too busy partying.

Clearly, Generation X and the Millennial Generation can learn a lesson from the baby boomers, and the lesson is to save early and save hard and spend less at J.Crew and the nail salon.

A new technology was recently developed to encourage young people to save for retirement. An “app” called “Face Retirement,” created by the Bank of America/Merrill Edge, lets them visualize how they’ll look years from now, with jowls, wrinkles, gray hair, crow’s feet, and gold crowns. Seeing themselves as seniors is supposed to inspire them to think about retirement and saving — at least the ones who aren’t saddled with so much student debt they need a bailout by the Obama administration just to be able to live their daily lives.

I figure this device can also help young people who smoke, drink, overeat, and tan. As you know, many of them aren’t concerned about the ill effects of their bad habits because they think they’ll live forever. I’m convinced that letting them see how they’ll end up after all that tanning, puffing and quaffing could lead to enormous savings in health care costs. Another crisis solved by technology.

If I’d had this fantasy program when I was their age, it could have dramatically changed my life. Back in my partying days, I would have seen a picture of myself as an aging, bald guy and thought, “This isn’t good. Look at what’s going to happen to me. I’d better start putting money aside for … a hair transplant.”

Of course, cosmetic procedures can be very expensive, but now I’m so worried about saving for retirement that a hair transplant isn’t a priority anymore.

Is there still time for me to become filthy rich?

 

Joe Pisani may be reached at [email protected]

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