Many are beginning to believe retirement as they once knew it may be over. September 7, 2010 witnessed widespread one day strikes across France by her largest unions in protest of President Nicholas Sarkozy's bill to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62. Demonstrations protesting this change were expected in more than 130 cities across France. Transportation workers began the strike last night, and schools, post offices, and government offices are expected to be closed today. Workers are upset because they see a reversal of the trend that lowered the retirement age from 65 to 60 after the 1981 election when Socialist President Francois Mitterrand was elected.
Economic conditions, massive debt, careless spending, and falling currency values across much of Europe have precipitated the need for changes to the retirement systems of several nations. In 2007, Germany adopted a plan to gradually raise its retirement age from 65 to 67. In addition, both Spain and Italy also increased their retirement ages to 65. Changes sweeping across Europe are likely to bee seen across Great Britain, and many other parts of the world, including America, sooner than many may have been expecting.
According to a BBC Newsnight poll, some 70% of the 1,000 people who were asked about retirement thought it would not be feasible for people to stop work then live on a pension for up to 30 years. In addition, some 72% of those currently working were also worried about not having the funds to live as they would like in retirement. At least 77% thought younger workers would get a worse deal, and 54% thought it was unfair that younger generations would be worse off than those currently nearing retirement age.
Professor of history at the University of Exeter, Jeremy Black, said younger people who were yet to retire were having to adjust to traumatic change in fortunes. "The relationship between the generations has been transformed. Whereas it used to be the case that up and coming generations tended to be more prosperous than their parents, now we're going to be in reverse," he said. He added that the powerful sense of entitlement among those who had grown up with a strong welfare state had now become unaffordable.
What does this mean for an American citizen facing retirement twenty years from today? Can Social Security be saved? Yes it can and will be saved in some form. While only God knows what it will look like in the future, it does mean that the retirement system you are familiar with today will undergo major overhauls before you reach your retirement age. What's more, your current projected retirement age of 67 will likely be changed to 70 by the time you actually retire. The US Social Security Administration has already embarked on a similar track years ago by raising the full retirement age from 65 to age 67. In August 2010 some Republican senators including House minority leader John Boehner (R-OH) suggested raising the retirement age to age 70. However, one could argue that it is already there because if a person scheduled to retire at age 66 today waits 48 additional months, or four more years, that individual can receive the maximum Social Security check beginning at age 70.
What should you do in preparation for these coming changes.
1. Refuse to adopt a victim mentality; though you may feel that victimhood is warranted, embrace reality, step up to the plate and assume personal responsibility for your future
2. Prepare to work longer than anticipated and save like crazy
3. Make independent arrangements for your retirement (Roths, IRAs, 401(k)s, real estate, precious metals, etc.
4. Contact your congressperson, since Social Security effectively cost you (combined with employers' matching funds) 15.3% of you income for 40+ years, you deserve to have them hear your opinions
5. Control your finances, refuse to depend upon big government, their track record leads to buy one conclusion: their goal is to control more and more of your money
6. Be prepared to lower your expectations, you may be forced to lower them since no one knows the future and where the economy will be when you retire
7. Live with a keenly increased level of awareness of economic conditions; if you don't provide for your own future retirement needs, don't make the mistake of assuming that someone else will
8. Be prepared to redefine and lessen the expectations your heirs may have concerning any future inheritances they may anticipate receiving
9. Diversify your investments
10. Most importantly, depend upon the Lord to guide you, to give you wisdom, and to take care of you during your retirement years