A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Is America's Favorite Retirement Plan Broken, describes the current state of 401(k) plans. The article provides evidence that these plans may need to be fixed for them to create successful retirement outcomes for the millions of Americans that participate in these retirement investment vehicles. While the main point of the article is to point out plans of policymakers to make the 401(k) more equitable in respect to the way taxation is handled, other points made in the article piqued my interest.
Some people start a new life of sorts after they retire. Most public servants who have served their communities for years move on to other endeavors that allow them to continue to serve the public a different way while still retaining the joie de vivre of the retired life. That’s the case with LAGERS Retiree Robert Gomer, who enjoyed over 25 years working for Mid-Continent Public Library in the Kansas City area. I had the pleasure of interviewing him for this Retiree Spotlight.
LAGERS' Executive Director and I attended the annual conference of the National Association of State Retirement Administrators (NASRA) last week. This conference gathers together the leaders of the largest public pension plans in America. Attending allows us to hear ideas about how to better serve our members and gain insight into best practices in the retirement industry.
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A recent article in Forbes, Workplace Retirement Coverage Drops And The System Continues To Fail, by Teresa Ghilarducci, provides some sobering statistics about retirement preparedness for Americans. It is no surprise Americans who have access to a retirement plan at work will be better prepared for retirement than those without a plan. However, according to Ghilarducci, only 40% of workers in the U.S. are covered by a retirement offered by their employer. This is a 4% decrease since 2014 and this number has declined in 14 of the 17 years since 2000.
What is myLAGERS, and why do I need a myLAGERS account?
I recently spoke with a former colleague who told me she was not even 30 years old yet and she has absolutely no interest in talking about or thinking about retirement or planning for her financial future. She did know when she would be vested in her current pension, but she had no idea how a pension works and couldn't tell me anything about her specific employer's plan. "I'll worry about that in a few years." Bottom line, she sounded exactly like me when I was her age, and my current-age self would love to have a "welcome to reality" talk with my younger self. Unfortunately, I was not convincing enough to make my former colleague take action to support her financial future, but she is now, at least, THINKING about it.
Flexibility may not be a word you often hear associated with public pension plans. These plans are typically created by state or local policymakers, and changes to the plan structure are sometimes difficult and time-consuming. This is OK for many public pension plans because they cover workers with similar characteristics. It is common, for example, for all teachers covered by a pension plan to have the same retirement benefits regardless of the school district that employs them. All employees have the same benefits; the school districts and employees share in the cost of benefits; and all pay the same amount for those benefits.
Let’s think about these two words for a moment…”covet” (to yearn to possess or have something) vs. “begrudge” (to envy or resent the good fortune of someone, to be unhappy or upset because someone has something you think they do not deserve).
A utility worker from Rolla Municipal Utilities (above) clears debris.
Governments face many tough decisions when determining how to make the best use of taxpayer dollars. Citizens demand a certain level of service from public entities for protection, infrastructure, health, education, and more. Of course, in order to provide these services, governments need to be able to attract and retain qualified workers. The better the public workers you have working in your community, the better services you will enjoy as a taxpayer.
Recently we held our first Facebook giveaway. Did you see it? During National Retirement Security week (which also happened to be the week of our Annual Meeting) we held a T-shirt giveaway. We wanted to hear your retirement plans, and boy, did you have a lot to say! Here are some excerpts from the contest comments on what LAGERS members plan to do in retirement. There are some great ideas in here in case you're still trying to figure out what your retirement dream will be!