The Phaserl


The comprehensive guide on why you will never retire living the way you do

Examining the typical $50,000 household budget and why most Americans have nothing to very little saved for retirement.


We are facing an impending retirement crisis of epic proportions. The math is tough to look at. We have a growing population of aging baby boomers hitting retirement age with weak investment portfolios. Many will face increased healthcare costs since most of healthcare spending tends to hit in old age. Many older Americans are finding it tougher to retire and this also plugs up the pipeline for younger workers to move up through the employment channels. Many young Americans are confined to a new low-wage economy where pensions are extinct, benefits are lacking, and wages are far behind that of their parents even after adjusting for the corrosive power of inflation. The idea of retirement is actually a modern one. For most of our civilized history the only people that had time for fun and leisure were the top one percent of society. Life in other words was short and brutish for most of us. The US of course was the first nation to have a large and powerful middle class but this only came about after World War II. We are now trending back to the more historical norm of massive inequality for the bulk of the population. If nothing is done to reverse this trend, we will simply revert to how things were and the notion of retirement is going to disappear along with pensions. Most Americans still believe retirement is in the cards but their saving habits show a completely different future.

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3 comments to The comprehensive guide on why you will never retire living the way you do

  • NaySayer

    People in America oversall won’t be living as we have been living once the dollar is rejected soon. This is not just about retirees.

    I think it is time we all acknowledge that the pension funds are gone. They were either not funded enough or they have been stolen. Social security is a ponzi scheme that will not exist in a real form soon. Anybody with a private pension fund can expect their funds stolen and put in MyRAs as well. The MyRA funds will be disappeared into the worthless treasury bond structure and be gone as well.

    Ann Bernhard is correct. If you don’t hold anything in physical form and can’t stand in front of it with a gun and protect it, then you don’t own it. The Bundy ranch scenario is just another example of somebody in power shuffling some paper and now you don’t own your own land no matter how long it has been in the family. Funny how standing in front of it with guns worked in the new america.

  • Ed_B

    As a successful retiree, let me add a couple of comments to this article. First, it is impossible to save our way to retirement. Yes, we MUST save a good chunk of what we earn but the job of prepping for retirement doesn’t end there; it only begins there. The reason I say this is because taxes and inflation are a huge drag on retirement wealth. The current low yields on CDs, bank savings accounts, and other cash equivalents cannot hope to keep up with either taxes or inflation, let alone both of them together. The only thing that does keep up with T&I is a broadly diversified portfolio of low cost mutual funds and ETFs. Stocks can also keep up but few want to bother with the effort it takes to pick good stocks. If you do, that’s great. Stocks can definitely beat T&I over time.

    Second, don’t listen to the so-called experts who say that we need to save 10-15% of our income for retirement. The real figure is probably more like double this. Maybe they don’t want to discourage people from saving at all via the use of their low-ball number. Just save all that you can and consider that 10-15% is the absolute minimum.

    Third, the markets rise and fall with some regularity, so don’t be surprised when that happens. Ignore it. Continue to save regularly as always. Yes, your account might be down at the time BUT you are also buying more cheap shares that will be much greater in value when the market comes back.

    Forth, diversify your holdings across what I call The Big Five: stocks (includes mutual funds and ETFs), bonds, cash, real estate, and commodities / precious metals. How you allocate your money across these various asset classes depends completely on your financial condition, goals, desires, and thoughts. One could start with an even money distribution and then adjust as needed later.

    Fifth, take advantage of any tax-sheltered plans that are available to you but don’t forget to save outside such plans as well. This is referred to as tax diversification and it is an important aspect of retirement saving and spending. While taxable accounts do not yield any near term tax savings, they will be taxed as long term capital gains in retirement and not as income. Typically, long term cap gains are taxed at about 1/2 the rate of income, so significant tax savings can be had here.

    Last, become more conservative in your investments with time. One standard rule of thumb was the old Rule of 100, where the percentage that one had in the stock market was equal to 100 minus their age. This means that one is mostly in stocks when young and needs a lot of growth in their account but, as one ages, more money is shifted into bonds and cash so as to not be too susceptible to big market drops as one nears their retirement age.

    • Eric

      I used to think this was a good plan and may be very well for you Ed but I have to comment here.

      Sadly, the majority of Americans still think it’s about how much you make when its really about how much you save. And more importantly, how much you spend which at this point, unless it’s on food, silver, or anything that will help you survive, is equal to tossing quarters down the sewer.

      Stocks have saved the day for the past 5 years, bonds don’t yield enough above the rate of inflation, and any tax deferred savings will most likely be taxed higher in the future or confiscated. Also, your deposits (in my opinion) are at risk when they are deposited into an insolvent institution and they are allowed to confiscate your deposits as you are an unsecured creditor to that institution.

      In my opinion, a better solution would be to save as much as possible in gold, silver, food, guns, gear, etc. i.e. REAL assets you can hold in your hand, Pay off/down debt and separate yourself from a failing financial, political, religious, legal system. Work within your community because it will almost certainly come down to survival at the local level.

      If you want to play in paper/digital markets that are tied to a worthless currency (which is just paper we have to pay interest to use), then trade carefully in and out using only what you are willing to lose when the system fails. Knowledge IS Power and they can never take that away from you.

      It will of course ultimately depend on your own individual situation and knowledge of the situation, and how much risk you are willing to take.. Also, I’m not a financial adviser. Just someone who has nothing better to do than learn as much as I can.

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