Been There, Done That!

by Irwin Lengel

How many of you remember the movie “Back to the Future” (I know some of you can’t remember back to the mid 1980’s but try anyways)? If you will recall it was the movie where Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, travels back to 1955 where he almost messes up his own future and his very existence.

As you think back to the premise of the movie, picture yourselves experiencing how retirement today is not at all like retirement was for our parents and even our grandparents.

As a matter of fact, according to Wikipedia – beginning in the mid-1800s certain municipal employees - firefighters, cops, teachers, started receiving public pensions and this was done mostly in big cities.

American Express Company started offering private pensions to their employees in 1875. And by the 1920s there were various American industries, namely railroads, oil companies, and banking companies to name but a few that were promising their workers some sort of support for their later years when they would retire and leave the workforce.

I’m sure that if someone would research this matter further, they would find that the same consideration of workers back then does not exist today. In addition, one could also say that retirement as we know it today isn’t anything like it was for not only our parents but our grandparents as well.

In reality, until the Social Security Act was passed in 1935 many individuals didn’t even think about retiring let alone what one would do when they no longer had a job to go to. It is true that back then, it was tossed about that workers would not be allowed to work beyond the age of 60. Let’s see, how was it stated back then – oh yeah – workers would be “off the clock” at age 60.

Back when I was working (well, a bit before that) retirement to us meant we could look forward to receiving not only a small pension but also medical coverage for the balance of our lives. Such knowledge enabled employees to be loyal to their employers because they knew they would be provided for when they finally did retire.

Enter the dot-com bubble, or the period between 1995 and 2000. I am sure many of you know this time of our life (it was also referred to as the Internet bubble). That was the time when investors pumped lots of money into Internet-based startups in the hopes that these fledgling companies would soon turn a profit.

Well, we all know how that turned out, many of these dot-com startups failed and retirement plans were put in jeopardy. But that wasn’t the worst of it.

Along comes the 2007-2009 meltdown and I am sure that many of you know the one I am referring to. Financial failures were so great that millions of retirement accounts, pensions, and real estate holdings were wiped out.

Fast forward to 2019 and while our economy is doing well and has been growing for almost a decade now, it is starting to show some wear and tear. Some economists, but not all, expect a recession which does cause concern because if one recalls correctly, it was these same people (economists) that missed the warning signs provided us in 2007.

So seeing that 2019 is in the wind, where does that leave us? Do we have to do what Marty McFly did – meaning go back to re-discover out future? Even if we could though, truth-be-told, I am in no way, mechanically inclined and wouldn’t know a flux capacitor (item that needed to be repaired in order to get the DeLorean working again) from a water pump, in order to go back and change what happened to us. Life isn’t that easy!

But, looking back isn’t such a bad idea. How far back – well, as much as I hate to admit it, we could look at how we (my family) lived almost a half century ago (now there’s a scary thought) and see if there is anything that translates well to 2019.

The one thing I have learned about retirement is that no one retirement looks like anyone else’s. Besides what fun would that be? Boring to say the least.

Our retirement should be an adventure we just cannot wait to begin. Think about how you got that promotion when you worked or changed jobs and looked forward to that first day….

Our retirement should be an adventure we just cannot wait to begin – you know like it was when we got that promotion or changed jobs. The only thing that has changed is that we are moving to other passions and interests and the time we have to devote to these new passions and interests is ours to determine – not the boss’s!

Time hasn’t stopped or slowed down nor have we. The secret is to not follow the crowd. If you think back to the 1950s, and if you are anything like me, you wouldn’t be far off by saying: “Been there – done that!”

Time to move on to something new, challenging and exciting!

Until next time!

Comments for Been There, Done That!

Click here to add your own comments

Welcome back
by: Donna Augusta, Mo

Hi! Irwin. Welcome back. Yes, I agree back to the future.

Retirement for me also is very different than my parents and grandparents. I feel very blessed.

My employer was a large hospital for 37 years. I remember them telling us about our pensions and matching 401 ks. It's not that way for this generation and, since when we're young we don't think the future is that soon it's easy to neglect our retirement.

I am now reaping the rewards of loyalty to my employer but, 4 years from my retirement they phased out pensions.

I pray for the future generations to help them save for their retirement

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Irwin's Blog.