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Old 09-23-2013, 09:08 PM   #21
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How could you not feel sorry for a 77 year old widower like this:


Where in this article does this guy ask for sympathy?
+++

Surely another victim of capitalism and greed. How sad that a 77 year old man has to work 2 part-time jobs, standing on his feet for an 8 hour shift at Sam's Club with just 1/2 hour of breaktime! And when he's not doing that, he's standing at a golf club kitchen grill in the Florida heat, while also tending the cash register. The system must be broken!


So this guy had a high 5-figure income in the late 70s/early 80s (even making more later on)....paid for his children's college educations....then gave away his home equity to his children for their own home down payments - and wonders why he can't subsist on his $40,000 401k balance plus Social Security and pension? And we're supposed to feel sorry for his blatant decisions?


Why are you so upset with this guy? He seems willing to work two jobs and doesn't seem to be complaining. You apparently think it's a bad thing that he paid for his children's education and their down payments--and helped his elderly parents.
+++


He admits that he could exist just on his SS and pension - but he wants to be able to travel and do more things that require spending money. Gee, don't we all?

I'm not sure he "admitted" anything. Maybe he just "said" it. But, from what I read in the original post, he is willing to work for what he wants. Don't you think that's a good thing? (I do).

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Old 09-23-2013, 09:42 PM   #22
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At least most of the Yahoo comments on the article's tone were rational. This guy made his financial choices over his lifetime (inc. the gifts to his family) & is now living with the results. I happen to have friends in their 50's who freely admit they will keep w#rking 'forever' to support their desire for expensive lifestyle (homes, cars, travel, etc.). IMHO- This is what freedom of choice is about.
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Old 09-23-2013, 09:50 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by ERhoosier View Post
At least most of the Yahoo comments on the article's tone were rational. This guy made his financial choices over his lifetime (inc. the gifts to his family) & is now living with the results. I happen to have friends in their 50's who freely admit they will keep w#rking 'forever' to support their desire for expensive lifestyle (homes, cars, travel, etc.). IMHO- This is what freedom of choice is about.
Off with their heads!
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Old 09-23-2013, 10:27 PM   #24
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Off with their heads!
Land of the free, indeed. The Unabomber had a point.
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Old 09-23-2013, 11:07 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by redduck View Post
Where in this article does this guy ask for sympathy?
If the article's very title is the (seemingly mathematically incorrect) claim that some 77 year old guy has to slave away for an entire week to make what he used to earn in just 1 hour, do you think the author's trying to ask people to look at him as a loser, or rather focus on a 'down and out' situation and appeal to the tender emotions of someone's heart to draw sympathy? Or do you think it simply has absolutely no bearing or purpose whatsoever to the article?


Why the need to mention how this guy goes to the extreme of 'running his dishwasher just once a week' (although as a single guy, I don't know why he'd run his dishwasher for just 2 plates every day), or "turning off the water heater after he showers in the morning" if the objective isn't to tug at your heart strings and make you feel sorry for this guy, who is apparently pushed to such extremes as these to make ends meet? Why mention about how he flew 1st class in his younger years for work (instead of just saying he had a high paying job), and has since been demoted to standing for 8 hours at Sam's and sweating over a grill in the heat at a country club to scrape by if not specifically to try and make you feel sorry for him by showing how far he's tumbled? (and we'll get to the "why" he tumbled...)


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Why are you so upset with this guy? He seems willing to work two jobs and doesn't seem to be complaining. You apparently think it's a bad thing that he paid for his children's education and their down payments--and helped his elderly parents.
Where in my post did I say I was "upset" specifically with the subject (Tom Palome)? I take issue with the overall tone and theme in the article that the author is trying to convey, and the specific financial facts of Tom's case that the author ignores in their attempt to get you to feel sorry for Tom and hate someone else (like ignoring how he wouldn't likely have to work right now if only he hadn't given away his home equity and paid for his childrens' college educations!). I do not have anything specifically against Tom Palome.

As I mentioned in a different post, there is a slant to suggest that the 2008 financial market drop was a major cause in forcing him to go to work:

Quote:
When the 2008 financial crisis hit, what little Palome had saved -- $90,000 -- took a beating and he suddenly found himself in need of cash to maintain his lifestyle. With years if not decades of life ahead of him, Palome took the jobs he could find.
It's implied that in 2009, Palome 'suddenly' found himself needing cash to fund his lifestyle - which presumably forced him to get a job. It didn't say he was working in 2007/2008 and simply took a different job after the financial crisis - it implies he was retired in 2007.

But even if his portfolio of $90k fully recovered, it doesn't look like it would have been enough to fund the lifestyle he wants to live anyway. Which makes the article's implication that he had to get a job because of the market plunge and his portfolio drop a red herring.

If you were to ask 100 random people what 'caused' the market plunge in 2008, probably 98% (again, random people) would lay the blame with "greedy financial companies" as being the principal culprit, rather than acknowledging that EVERYONE (including some financial institutions more than others) played a role through more lavish than previous lifestyles, which propelled the entire economy at an unsustainably large growth trajectory and eventually collapsed.

By trying to suggest that the market plunge in 2008 was the main reason Palome had to go out and get a job at age 72, it implies (from popular consensus thought) that the greedy bankers/Wall St caused his portfolio to drop, and therefore greedy Wall St. caused this nice old man who used to fly 1st class for work to have to spend his golden years sweating over a grill and standing for 7 1/2 hours handing out free samples, and shutting off his water heater each day. Which appeals to mob psychology to demand "reform" - because if Wall St. can make this high-flying executive reduced to working for minimum wage, imagine what the Middle Class masses will be 'forced to do' to make ends meet in retirement!

And, dear reader, while we're appealing to your emotions and getting you riled up against Wall St, here's another point from someone (the infamous Ghilarducci) suggesting that it's impossible for "an average middle class person" (note Ghilarducci's use of the singular, not plural) to amass a $1MM portfolio to sustain themselves on...even though with a 2 person income household, it is possible by living beneath your means. It also ignores the fact that a "middle class person" probably wouldn't be accustomed to (or "need") $40k in spending from their portfolio if they have SS to maintain their lifestyle, since their smaller portfolio (with SS) could be well above the standard of living they enjoyed while working.

The article mentions how many retirees have very little (or even zero) savings. But does it talk about warning current workers to start saving? Nope. It does, however, quote Palome's "biggest regret":

Quote:
If Palome has one regret, it's that he didn't get better retirement investing advice somewhere along the line. "I thought I could do it on my own," he said.
It doesn't say that he obviously didn't save enough - it says that he didn't get better investing advice as his biggest regret. Perhaps "investing advice" could partially mean "how much to save", but when I hear the phrase "investing advice", I would bet most "average people" people would associate it nearly entirely with what to buy, not how much to invest, such as perhaps "financial planning" would do.

It appears that the problem in this case isn't spending too much/saving too little, but rather (according to the author) is everyone trying to do it themselves. As many on the ER forum know, investment returns are important - but sometimes just as important is the amount/% of your income you save.

Rather than quote a financial planner who could say "middle class America, look at this guy and take note to save more", instead it has quotes from Teresa Ghilarducci and the author plants seeds and implications that

Quote:
It's about to get worse. Right behind the current legions of elderly workers is the looming baby boomer generation, who began turning 65 in 2011 and are reaching that age at a rate of about 8,000 a day...They're the first generation expected to fund their own retirements, even as they live longer lives.
What constitutes the definition of "the first generation expected to fund their own retirements"? As mentioned before, even in the heyday, pensions were only going to maybe 50% of Americans (and again, that includes very small pensions as well as larger ones). There are still Boomers who have pensions today - a definite minority, but still some.What did 50% of Americans do back in 1960/1970 to survive?

No historical analysis based on facts and figures, but rather implications that Wall St. will use and abuse you for their gain, and force hordes to work well into their 70s because it's simply impossible to make it in retirement without someone holding your hand and telling you what to do.

Again, I acknowledge that some need their nose wiped their entire lives...but the article appears to take a definite subtle hint in a direction other than simply "save more and consult an hourly financial planner".
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Old 09-23-2013, 11:12 PM   #26
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Without the job, he makes $21.6 a year, plus if he took 4% of $40K that's another $1.6K for a total of $23.2. With his part time jobs he is making $40K a year in a paid for home in a low COL state.

Instead of part time jobs, if he had a roommate with the same SS and pension income, the total household income would be $46.4K living in a low COL state with paid for housing. That compares favorably to a median U.S. household income of ~$50K, which includes households paying SS taxes and with higher housing costs.

There are people on many of the more frugal forums who would consider themselves able to live quite well on this kind of income, and would be socking away half. Instead of a roommate he has part time jobs, but he still says, "....his jobs keep him active and learning new things, could survive without working. He receives $1,200 from Social Security and a $600 a month pension from his last corporate job. Still, his $1,400 in monthly wages allows him to bolster his savings and provides for some extras. He goes to the theater, pays for plane tickets to visit his children and grandsons and takes occasional vacations."

He is working because he wants to. He isn't destitute or even breaking even every month. He is saving some of the money from his jobs and using the rest to pay for extras.

So to recap in retirement he has jobs he enjoys that give him exercise and keep him active, he is in good health, he is saving money, and he has extra money for travel and the theater. Written differently, this could be a story of how to live frugally but well in retirement.
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Old 09-23-2013, 11:58 PM   #27
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Another example of why I gave up reading Yahoo! Finance articles years ago.
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Old 09-24-2013, 12:01 AM   #28
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I feel more sorry for the 77 year old who expected to work well into old age, but isn't healthy enough to work, or simply can't find anyone willing to hire them.
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Old 09-24-2013, 12:34 AM   #29
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I think the OP and the follow up posting pretty much dissected the "article" enough for me.
I'm curious if the subject of the article knew how it (him or his financial situation) was going to be portrayed or described in said article. I could picture the author being a golfer or Sam's club member and hearing about or hearing stories directly from the subject, "when I was working for Oral-B......" Not in a boastful way but just good friendly conversation, then over time the author says your story would make a good article, mind if I write about it. At that point what the subject might think of as a nice, "This is how I do it" or a "No regrets" type of piece becomes the drivel that came out?

I didn't read the article, just the points that were quoted, but to me it seems like the subject had no regrets and has a pretty good work ethic that I'd like to see in some of my employees

I personally wouldn't have paid for the college education (you can get loans for that but not for retirement spiel) nor would I have split the sale of the house, that would have been put right back into the retirement fund, but again, to me, just looking at the comments and description of the subject he seems like a no regrets type of guy and he's happy or at least satisfied with his current situation.
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retiree failed to save. Now works at 77
Old 09-24-2013, 01:39 AM   #30
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retiree failed to save. Now works at 77

Interesting perspectives on this article. At first I was generally in the "no sympathy" camp, for someone making good money in the 1970's till his wife died in 1983...not to save.

But then I take a step back and see my own 70+ YO parents with little saved and thinking that a "social security check + paid off house" will take care of them. It's tight. Really tight. Pains me to see them struggle, but in many ways my own folks lived life much the same as this guy ...prioritizing kids education and such.... My own Dad, 78, works 25-30 hrs/week in a grocery store to make ends meet. Always the optimist, not sure he really wants to be spending his sunset years in a grocery store working side by side with people 40 years younger than him. Keep in mind - this guy is working, earning his keep. yea, life is difficult for him but somehow he has found some solace in work and i bet being around people every day and having a reason to get up every morning (to go to work) has given him many more years of life. he can earn a bit to enjoy travel, but also lives very frugally. My own dad is much the same way.

I guess really I respect a guy who loses his wife with still young children, decides to keep working hard to put them through college and then continue working into old age.

In today's day and age, take someone of the current generation- they will likely claim some mental / emotional distress, collect from welfare and/or disability, and think nothing of it. Or worse - fall in a bottle, or addicted to pain pills to make their troubles go away...a Neglect the kids...or worse.

My concluding thought is that at some point, the music stops.... if there were more guys like this able to earn his own keep in the pre-boomer and boomer generation that is of retirement age.... we'll all foot less of a bill (taxes or otherwise) eventually taking care of them in retirement.

Sadly i think this story will play out countless times in the next 25 years.
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Old 09-24-2013, 05:39 AM   #31
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I work with a number of senior people that make safely in the six figures and I am surprised when I hear comments about "financial sturggles." It seems to eventually involve a pair of BMW SUVs they picked up or something equally "essential." It's clear they plan on working forever. Then, there are others that are clearly saving a large chunk of their pay.

I know one guy that's safely over 70. He's financially flush after a solid career. He consults reguarly and works part-time at an Orvis store. He likes having something to do and interacting with people. He lives a comfortable but modest lifestyle. His children and grandchildren will probably not spend their inheritance with the same care it was amassed.

I suspect the guy in the article likes having his part-time jobs. I know several retirees that have minimum wage jobs for a few hours per week and don't seem to be struggling financially. Part-time work in retirement is just one of many possible lifestyle decisions people make. The money may even be irrelevant.
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Old 09-24-2013, 08:07 AM   #32
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Friend of mine is very financially comfortable (pension, trust fund, investments) but bartends two days a week for the social/busy aspect.

Another friend was prez of a mid sized private investment firm. At age 70 he was required to step down and found himself having dramatically downsize in order to stay afloat...seems he never thought that the income would slow or that the economy might tank...yeah, I know 'investment manager', but...he was paying $40K a year just for landscapers! Had to sell two of his three homes, drop out of the country club etc etc etc. He still lives better than most, but he was in denial about so many things.
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Old 09-24-2013, 08:48 AM   #33
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If he earned as much as $120,000/year at his best year, that works out to about $57/hr. It says he earns $1,400/month now at his part-time jobs- that works out to $350/week.

Unless he had a magic formula for working just 10 hours a week to earn $120,000/year at his peak, the finance editors need to learn some basic math to learn that $57 is nowhere near equal to $350.
Weren't his peak earning years in the late 1970's and early 1980's? $120,000 per year. Adjusting for inflation, $120K in 1980 would be $340K today. $57 per hour would be $161 today. Still nowhere near $350 per hour, but closer.

That's also assuming he did a normal 40 hour per week job. If he worked as an independent consultant, he probably made a lot more per hour, but didn't work a full 40 hours. As an example, I knew someone who was a consultant (what he consulted for, I don't remember...something defense-related I think) back in the late 1990's. I think he charged $250 or $350 per hour. However, he did not get $250 or $350 per hour, 40 hours per week.

I'm sure there are "billable hours", "non-billable hours", etc worked into those equations. Isn't that how lawyers and such work?
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Old 09-24-2013, 08:50 AM   #34
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I'm curious if the subject of the article knew how it (him or his financial situation) was going to be portrayed or described in said article.
Well, that's a good point.

My advice to everyone: if a report of any kind (TV, newspaper, blog) asks you for permission to take your picture or tell your story, kindly "Just Say No."

It isn't worth it. No matter what you say, you will be spun into what they want to spin.

Many here won't read Yahoo. Well I don't watch 60 minutes. 60-min is famous for grilling people for 2 hours or so and dissecting it down to 3 minutes of comments they can spin.

So, OK, maybe we're missing the whole story. Maybe when the guy was making 80k when average wage was 11k, he was giving it all away to Indian orphans. Who knows?
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Old 09-24-2013, 09:09 AM   #35
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....My advice to everyone: if a report of any kind (TV, newspaper, blog) asks you for permission to take your picture or tell your story, kindly "Just Say No." It isn't worth it. No matter what you say, you will be spun....
I can imagine this poor guy reading the article and thinking, What the heck, this is completely out of context, they made me look like a moron. Too often as in this case and many AARP stories, the subject is not really typical (in that most 77 year olds are not working for any reason and probably most who had a high-paying career are not in dire straits) and the writer wants to use him to prove a point for an industry (asset management as quoted in the article) rather than do any work to find out what really happened to this guy (maybe a few exwives who took him to the cleaners both from his nest egg and part of any pension, maybe there was some malfeasance in his business dealings) and if his current situation is at all related to a lack of investment advice.

I agree the Yahoo stories are a waste of time to read.
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Old 09-24-2013, 10:20 AM   #36
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IMHO, the underlying cause his current situation can be summed up in one of his quotes: "I never thought I'd live this long..."

Just like in business, this is why I always plan for the extreme case...although I guess living longer than expected is not a bad extreme!
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Old 09-24-2013, 10:27 AM   #37
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IMHO, the underlying cause his current situation can be summed up in one of his quotes: "I never thought I'd live this long..."

Just like in business, this is why I always plan for the extreme case...although I guess living longer than expected is not a bad extreme!
77 isn't outside his IRS longevity table. He's getting close to the mean age for death but he's probably got a few more years past this since he's still heathy enough for what he's doing.
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Old 09-24-2013, 10:38 AM   #38
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77 isn't outside his IRS longevity table. He's getting close to the mean age for death but he's probably got a few more years past this since he's still healthy enough for what he's doing.
True, his case is more average than extreme. I guess he just couldn't imagine himself at that age.
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Old 09-24-2013, 11:26 AM   #39
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My grandfather worked part time for many years as a crossing guard through some pretty brutal winters after he retired from his office job. I used to drive by and see him standing out in all kinds of weather, including rain and snowstorms. He enjoyed having a meaningful job and the extra money. The school children would draw him pictures he'd put on his fridge.

It never occurred to me to feel sorry for him for working in retirement. He didn't have to work. He a lived to an unusually old age and still left a sizable inheritance. He worked in retirement and stayed living in the same small house for most of his life because he had depression era money habits that never left him.

I don't see the man in the article as model for retirement failure. Sure maybe he could have saved more money when he was younger, but they didn't give him enough credit for his work ethic and LBYM lifestyle now.
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Old 09-24-2013, 11:54 AM   #40
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After re-reading the article and some of the comments here, I'm coming around to give Tom, the featured worker, a break.

My sense is the writer was trying to make a point and probably picked the wrong example of an older worker who has to work to even scrape by. I don't think Tom fits that category.

The article is interspersed with quotes from "experts", and I got confused by who was saying what.

Tom sounds like an affable guy who likes and needs people. He's working to keep that connection, more than anything. Sounds like he enjoys it more than really needs it. And the writer didn't say what Tom did during the 2009 panic. Did he sell low? Or is the writer just trying to make a point? Arghh!

"Financial Porn" indeed...
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