Take Personal Responsibility and Stop Relying on the Government
“Retirement worthy idea, not” – Yoda.
From where did the concept of retirement actually come? Interestingly, the German culture was the first economy to introduce the concept of a fixed retirement age with a government pension. It emerged during the Industrial Revolution and was institutionalized in the U.S. after the Great Depression. The public and private sector began introducing pension plans as a benefit package to attract better employees.
Simultaneously, the advancement of medicine created an “unintended consequence” – the life expectancy of humans began to extend. So much so that today, instead of the average life of man being in the mid-50’s it is now 79 years of age. Life expectancy has created a complex problem with respect to the social, moral and fiscal demands of retirement.
A Few Simple Truths
Social Security was created by our government to offer a secure source to supplement an individual’s retirement plans. It was never intended to be an individual’s main source of retirement nor was it mandatory that businesses contribute to support the program. When planning for your future, Social Security shouldn’t be depended on; it cannot survive.
Social Security as a means of retirement is untenable, while it allows the government to control the lives of people. Don’t believe me? Then consider the latest episode of fiscal irresponsibility by our government and how the political parties are using Social Security in a fear campaign to control people and their attitudes. Or ponder the riots in London and Greece, where politicians started cutting back entitlements to achieve some fiscal sanity.
What’s Wrong with Work?
The principle of work is sound – man is intended to work. Trying to avoid this principle will only bring frustration and a lack of purpose in your life. As we see in the lives of many “trust fund babies,” balance is difficult and without it you cannot achieve true happiness. As Coach John Wooden said so eloquently in his Pyramid of Success, “Your work should be your joy and your joy should be your work.”
Since life expectancy continues to extend to higher levels, it creates fiscal requirements for both you as an individual and for society as a whole. For example, you will be forced to examine the options of long-term healthcare insurance along with the moral dilemma of dealing with end of life decisions. As a culture, we are going to have to come to grips with these end of life decisions or we will bankrupt ourselves.
So What Does One Do?
First and foremost, start paying yourself before anyone else. A habit of saving 10 percent of what we earn must be taught to our children and practiced by us. There are many things that we teach in school, but financial literacy is one that we avoid like the plague. Every student should be required to take the Junior Achievement Financial Literacy course taught by professionals from our community. Knowledge is power; wisdom is security. The wisdom of money at an early age will correct the individual fiscal retirement issues and eliminate the entitlement issues created by Social Security. Additionally, as you approach the age of sixty your debt requirements must go down and you must look to create residual streams of income.
Second, individuals must start taking care of their physical needs. The cost of poor personal health decisions is breaking the bank. It really is simple – start eating the right foods, exercising and doing both with moderation. Our medical profession and government-supported programs cannot fiscally support the lazy health attitudes being demonstrated by our culture. One of the single biggest mistakes we have ever made is classifying obesity as a disease. This is ridiculous. Be honest and state it for what it is – the government classifies laziness as a disease; almost all of the diabetes & obesity growth is a result of improper diet and exercise.
It’s In Your Hands
Here is my definition for retirement: taking care of YOURSELF fiscally and physically. If people took the personal responsibility to do both, the two top stress factors in the world would be eliminated. Our concerns as a nation would be reduced by approximately 75 percent – check it out and look at the programs and money spent to support just these two areas because people will not take care of themselves. Additionally, happiness will no longer be an elusive idea and would become reality for millions. Coach Wooden’s definition of success is worth repeating with respect to this retirement issue: “Success is that peace of mind knowing that you have achieved your absolute best of what you were intended to achieve.”
Retirement? Yes, if you take responsibility for YOU.