Maybe you play the stock market, maybe you don’t. But if you’re looking to put your money into a growth industry, here are a few ideas: Bran flakes, Adult diapers, Hearing aids, Eyeglasses and vision care providers, Retirement homes, Rocking chairs, Motorized wheel chairs, Lazy boy recliners and couches, Pillows and blankets for napping, Denture makers, PoliDent and dental adhesives, Prune juice.
You see where we’re going here. The government suggests if we don’t wrap ourselves around a utility pole on the interstate or fall prey to some other unforeseen violent event, most of us will live to or into our 80’s - maybe even longer. That’s the good news. Here’s the bad. The Wall Street Journal reports almost 60 percent of us will not be ready to retire at 65 or 70, or perhaps ever. Fify-seven percent of Americans have less than 25 thousand dollars in savings, excluding their homes. Although with 21 percent of all American homes worth less than the purchase price, that’s not any for many. A new survey also finds we’re becoming resigned to the idea of working till we drop with only 28 percent of respondents convinced that someday they’ll have enough money to retire comfortably and it’s something of a vicious cycle. American Express began doling out the first worker pension plan back in 1875 and it wasn't much of a gamble. The average worker only lived to the ripe old age of 50, but today with the average American male odds on to hit the late 70's and women outliving them more often than not; pension liabilities are becoming an unforeseen financial headache for big business. It's estimated to be a combined 97 billion dollar liability which may explain why so few companies offer anything more in the way of retirement help than a 401k match. Making things worse, the big mortgage industry meltdown ate up a lot of the money responsible companies tried to sock away, not to mention scrambling the nest eggs of responsible long range planning workers.
When FDR and his social engineers mapped out social security, they had no idea that people would live so long. The average American barely made it past 60 in the depression days, and one prominent doctor told me the government has itself to blame in a sense, because after World War II, it launched a national war on smoking and as people kicked the habit or never picked it up, the rate of coronary and cancer deaths plummeted and the life span went up...and up and up.
So why are so many of us in such a cash crunch? Well, wages have been close to stagnant while expenses for housing and clothing, gasoline and food are all higher. We live longer but we need our pricey prescription drugs and from malls and big box stores to the internet, there are so many more options for our shopping dollars. And that money we were saving for a rainy day or a nice retirement – well you have to see Hawaii sometime. Then there are college tuitions, braces for your teenager and on and it's not impossible but if you're approaching 50, you'll really have to start putting the bucks away if you want to outlive your money. Depressing thought you say?
Well consider this: in places like Afghanistan, Zambia, Chad, and Zimbabwe nobody starts worrying about money and the golden years. Just before 50 - or even a few years after according to the life span tables - they're already dead.