If you have just entered the workforce in the last couple of years, the recession probably hit you hard. You’ve had a tough time finding jobs, and you’ve taken a hit in the wallet. But that doesn’t mean that things are getting easier for your grandparents either. The WSJ reports that seniors are increasingly looking for part time work to supplement diminished retirement savings and social security checks. That might be a problem for young people entering the workforce (or simply trying to stay afloat) who must now face competition in the workforce from wily and experienced old geezers who aren’t ready to throw in the towel just yet.Still, it’s a bigger problem for old folks whose retirement plans have unexpectedly fallen apart. When you’re in your seventies and eighties, dealing with a boss young enough to be your grandson is no picnic. Neither are the jobs described in the article: collecting tickets at a movie theater for minimum wage; driving from place to place trying to make real-estate sales after having been out of the business for almost a decade; working as a cook while suffering from arthritis.Via Meadia‘s advice to the young, so you don’t end up delivering pizza at 84: work hard on planning and developing your career. Good jobs and high incomes don’t suddenly appear because you want them; it takes work and planning on your part to develop the skills and build the career that will help you save for a quiet and comfy old age. As an added bonus: many people quite like their jobs. For those lucky folks, working a couple of extra years is no sacrifice and many musicians, teachers, doctors, writers, farmers and others go on working as long because they want to.Second best advice: start saving now, even it it’s just ten or twenty dollars a week. This is much easier to do than many people think. Having coffee at home rather than stopping at Starbucks five times a week would save you enough over a working life for a down payment on a house. Bring lunch from home instead of going to the deli and you’ll have saved the equivalent of several years’ full time after tax income as a superannuated security guard. Invest that money in a conservative mix of no-load mutual funds that target both stocks and bonds, and over your working life the money could grow much faster. That lunch money alone could grow to more than $70,000; give both Starbucks and the deli a miss and you could end up with more than $130,000. Put a few ideas like that to work along with a regular retirement savings program, and you will be shopping at Costco rather than working there when your 80th birthday rolls around.
In the old days, before the era of the blue social model transformed Americans from a nation of savers into a nation of credit card bingers and home equity tappers, this kind of thinking was common sense. “A penny saved is a penny earned,” wrote Benjamin Franklin, and generations of Americans saved hard — to buy their own farm, start a business, or to have a nest egg for the future.
Far too many Boomers bought into blue consumer thinking and head into retirement with their mortgages unpaid and their credit cards maxed. The Millennial generation doesn’t have to follow that primrose path to the poorhouse. Making a few simple, easy and smart decisions early in life could give you a much better future.