Basics: Asian male, age 45. A financial manager for a government agency, he knows about budgeting. The Stark County man’s household income is between $35,000 and $75,000.
How do you envision retirement? “The vacations, the golf, the cruises. Those are the things I would like to do. I do believe that a lot of financial planning firms and other entities that are trying to get business love to promote that picture of retirement as ‘I’m just lying on the beach all day, seven days a week, and I have nothing else to do. Ain’t life great?’
“Of course, people want to buy into that. I think we’ve kind of gotten this notion in our heads, especially when the stock market was up so high.”
The recession and collapse in home values changed those dreams.
“I would like to have those things, but, realistically, it probably isn’t going to be like that,” he said, shrugging. “I would like to be completely retired and not have to worry about finances, but that doesn’t mean that I’ll be on a beach or playing golf every day.”
What have you done to plan for retirement? “Being that I have a more financial-type education, when the market went down, I tried to be more aggressive and put more in [mutual funds and stocks]. I figured when it comes back up, I will have more because I purchased at a lower price. And it has come back — somewhat.
“Fortunately, I also had the good sense to put money in the state’s deferred compensation plan and let that ride. And Roth IRAs.
How do you view your retirement finances? “One thing about retirement is that I value it almost more than I do my current salary. That retirement is what’s going to protect me when I can’t work anymore.
“At 45, I’m still employable and can probably find employment. But once you are retired and you blow that retirement money, you’ve got nothing.”
Is there anyone in particular, or any policies that you think are responsible for the ailing economy?
“I do believe that the easy-money policies back during the Clinton administration, where we encouraged people to borrow on houses that were probably beyond their limit — that’s part of it.”
“Banks too eager to lend money and people to go into debt over the heads is another.
“A lot of economists didn’t want to get in front of the train and say, ‘This is not going to work.’ That’s one thing about our democracy — very few politicians are willing to tell the American people what they need to hear. No one wants to say it because they know they won’t get re-elected.”
America Today project seeks citizen input
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