Paycheck Chronicles

A Generational View of Retirement

I recently talked with a fairly typical young couple who is trying to balance their today living with their retirement savings.  This couple was having some conflict with their parents, who didn't understand why they were saving so much for retirement when it meant that they were sometimes struggling to pay for the extras they desired now.

As I thought about it, I realized the large difference between this couples view of retirement funding vs. their parents view of retirement funding  was probably typical . The younger generation sees retirement saving as an essential, personal responsibility that needs to take priority over many other competing financial goals.  Older folks started their working years during a time where the social contract was vastly different:  employees frequently worked at the same company all their lives, and there weren't questions about whether Social Security would be available when they retired.

I absolutely agree that significant retirement savings are going to be necessary for anyone who is still in the workforce, and I encourage employees to start savings as soon as they have earned income.  The later you start saving, the more you'll need to save, and that can really cut into the amount of income available for today's expenses.

I am so happy for those older parents who didn't have to save huge amounts, and who are financially secure during retirement due to good pensions and Social Security.  However, most of us will not have that experience and need to be saving while we can so that we can support ourselves after we stop working.

So, what's my point?  While many tenets of money management remain the same, many others are constantly changing.  Please make your decisions using a picture that is appropriate for our time and your situation, not the time and situation of anyone else.  There are very few universally right answers when it comes to financial planning, there are only right and wrong answers for your situation.

And I've never heard anyone say that they wished they had saved less for retirement.

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