Not planning on retirement is OK

Tim Eavenson

TEXT OF COMMENTARY

Kai Ryssdal: It's early yet to know exactly what the collective loss of wealth is going to mean for us all. But some things are going to have to change, retirements among them. Some people are going to have to stop working later than they'd planned or, perhaps, not retire at all. Commentator Tim Eavenson says he'd be OK with that.


Tim Eavenson: I'm fairly convinced that retirement is a scant possibility for me, but that's not so bad. At age 28, I am fully prepared to work until my dying day. I can't afford to contribute to a 401(k) because I don't have any income left over at the end of the month. I have approximately zero in savings and $200,000 in student loan debt. I do believe that Social Security's going to last a while, but not until I am 75, or 85, or whatever they change the retirement age to by the middle of the 21st century.

Honestly, what I'm hoping for right now -- my best-case scenario -- is that I can make a little more down the road, and pay off my loans before my kids turn 18 so I can get them through college, and sock enough away to become a part-time counsel somewhere when I'm older.

I'm not bitter. Honestly, the concept of retirement seems a little selfish to me. I mean, expecting to retire is a luxury just a few generations old -- it's not exactly the entitlement people like to call it. I would happily give it up in exchange for some other benefits. For example, I would love it if the government could somehow fold Social Security money, if there is any, into funding for single-payer health care. I'd work until my hands fell off if I knew my son could go to the doctor and we wouldn't have to file for bankruptcy.

Plus, if I didn't have to think about affordable health insurance, I'd have more freedom in choosing where to work, instead of my plan now, which is to get into the biggest corporate mega-firm possible so I can insure my family for under $1,000 a month.

I mean, money is meant to be used to make us happy anyway, right? Why would I want to wait until I was in my 70's to be happy? If I ever have enough money to put away, I think I'd put it to use. I'd rather feel the pride of watching my kids graduate, knowing they won't be saddled with the debt that I had. Or take vacations with my wife in our youth. Or actually pay off a mortgage. You know, crazy stuff like that.

Kai Ryssdal: Tim Eavenson is an attorney in Chicago, Ill. He
writes about labor law when he's not lamenting retirement.

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