Starting a Business

Retirement Myths

Written by Chukwuma Asala for Gaebler Ventures

Growing up we were taught a lot of things that at the time were as real as anything else we believed at that time. Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny all played a huge role in our lives at a time when we were too innocent to know the difference. This article will take a look at some of the similarities between Santa, the Easter Bunny, and retirement.

In today's economy the biggest challenge for most people is not so much getting a job but keeping it until they are eligible for retirement age.

Retirement Myths

This is not to say that getting a job is easy because that is not the case. But for a lot of people who worked hard to get where that are currently in their occupation, the future is a little shaky if they cared to take a look at what the economy is currently experiencing.

According to an article released by CNN early in August of 2008, "Employers cut jobs in July for the seventh straight month, while the unemployment rate hit a four-year high". The Labor Department reported a net loss of 51,000 jobs in the month of July and the latest report brought the total job losses this year to 463,000! Now if that is not getting people to stop and think then we have a big problem.

So with all this recession talk, people losing jobs, companies cutting costs, restricting and everything else, why is retirement something most people still feel they are guaranteed by age 65?! Robert Kiyosaki, an investor, businessman, self-help author and motivational speaker, is quoted as stating that "if you still believe in retirement, you probably believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny".

Quite the comparison, but I believe he may be on to something here. Let's take a look at some similarities between them and why such a comparison makes sense in light of what we're seeing today in the economy.

Everyone believes they exist, till they get older

Everyone remembers waking up as a little toddler Christmas morning with the anticipation of seeing gifts under the Christmas tree that good ol' Santa Claus had just dropped off through the chimney earlier. And most of you also remember that fateful Christmas morning when you woke up a little earlier than usual and to your surprise found not Santa but your father putting down the last of the Christmas gifts before sneaking back to bed. Oh how betrayed we all felt when we realized our parents had been lying to us the whole time.

Well fortunately for us we don't have to wait until we're 65 to figure out Santa Claus isn't real (and if you still never figured it out I apologize for spoiling it for you).

The reality is that more people are getting the pink slips these days than bonuses or raises at their job and the only reason they hang around long enough to get the boot is because of their belief in retirement. The days of starting with one company and finishing with one company are long gone.

Ask the senior citizens you see at Wal-mart stores at the entrance whether or not they're working because they're bored or broke. They'll probably tell you they're bored but we know the truth. They found out that retirement isn't feasible for many Americans. According to the Social Security Administration, 98 percent of Americans today cannot retire at age 65. So you've got a 2 percent chance if you keep doing what you're doing. Exciting isn't it? Remember the quote, "growing old is automatic but growing up is optional". The wise ones among us stopped believing in Santa a long time ago. If you're still not sure you might want to check out the facts.

Give you something to look forward to

The seductiveness of Santa and the Easter Bunny is they are nice, fluffy characters and are associated with a lot of fun and enjoyment.

This is not a good proxy for how life as an adult will be which is exactly why kids are the primary target for those holidays. Christmas is celebrated by all, but the young ones are usually the most excited and for good reason.

Christmas happens once a year and as such always has such a build up to it. It is the one time when everyone is supposed to be happy and cheerful and thankful for the start of a new year. You get to receive gifts from your family and friends which in a way is the affirmation that in spite of all you went through together that year you are still a good person.

Once again we see the similarity with the concept of retirement. Most people are educated for about 16 years through school with all the pressures and stress that comes with it. Then they eventually get a job which they hope will take them through the next forty years but we know that is not realistic anymore. And the dream for every working person is to at some point never have to work ever again. They paid the price, they did everything they were supposed to and the reward should be an easy retirement.

The dream of being free is one of the biggest motivations for people going to work for forty years only to find once again that there is life at the end of the tunnel; it's a freight train coming right at you.

So the bottom line is get over the fact that what you thought was true actually isn't. Retirement is definitely realistic; just without money. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but all you have to do is take a look at those before you and ask yourself what you are doing differently from them that will put you in a position better than they are currently right now when you get to their age.

If you're like most people, you really can't say you're doing anything different. That's okay, but just remember that Santa Claus was as real as your parents were real, until you found out that he was your parents!

Start planning now for your retirement. Don't rely on your company's 401k plan and pension plan. Most companies don't even have a pension for employees just getting into the work force today. They can't afford it. Start looking for other ways you can diversify your income, and I'm not just talking about portfolios. Get a business of your own. Take the entrepreneurial plunge; you just might like it. It beats finding Santa is your mom or getting a pink slip at age 45. The choice is yours.

Chukwuma Asala is an international student from Nigeria who is studying to earn an MBA from the State University of New York in Albany. He has analyzed more than 20 industry case studies throughout his education thus far, and hopes to bring some of his business knowledge to

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