The San Diego Union Tribute profiles a fairly typical boomer retiring couple. He's 64 and ending 32 years as a firefighter. She's 58 and a teacher's aide. They have what I think are adequate savings ($400,000+) but they also have an eighteen year old daughter about to enter an expensive college. (I consider any college that will cost more than $40,000 per year darn expensive.)
Crucial to their retirement plan is the $5850 per month Mr. Campbell will receive as his pension. That's only $15,000 less than he makes working full time in a very dangerous occupation. He will also get an additional $600 per month from Social Security, which is perplexing. Shouldn't it be considerably more than that, say closer to $1500?
At any rate, there will be no pension for me. Unlike my father, a disabled longshoreman who made 65% of his prior salary in pension benefits, or my mother, who received $85 per month for the 14 years she had worked for the phone company before marrying my father, I cannot depend on the employer largesse that my parents considered their due.
I have no problem with Mr. Campbell getting his pension. There's much to admire about anyone who has been protecting my property (analagously speaking, since he lives in San Diego and I don't) for the past 32 years. I just feel badly that pensions in general are going the way of the Dodo bird.
Paying for college right around retirement seems like a boomer right of passage. Many of us had a lot of fun in our twenties and thirties, delaying our families until we were in our forties. Nothing wrong with that except that one day we wake up and we're age-sixty with age-forty-something financial issues.
The advice the Campbells are given is predictible: They cannot afford to retire. Mr. Cambell may not want to continue as a firefighter, but he's going to have to work at something. The planner suggests he find a position that pays at least $50,000 a year, and that he work until he's 70.
I'm guessing that's not quite what these boomers had in mind.