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Old 02-09-2016, 09:56 AM   #21
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I believe my daughter has had a tougher time getting established than I did, 40 years ago. The cost of education and housing is so much more (in Toronto) while salaries paid to young people are less on an inflation adjusted basis. My daughter is very lucky that her parents are willing and able to help but most kids her age are saddled with student debt and have little prospect of acquiring a house on their salaries. At least in Toronto.
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Old 02-09-2016, 09:58 AM   #22
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I actually collect comics.

Collecting in the internet age has made collecting old Marvel comics from the 60s pretty reasonable if you aren't picky about condition, outside of the very early issues and the big key books.
That's cool. Can you make money with the lower quality issues, or do you do it just for fun?
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Old 02-09-2016, 10:03 AM   #23
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Well, now she's on another kick, saying I should try to get a state government job, as I think they do still offer pretty good pensions. But, I told her I'd have to be in for about 30 years or more before it amounted to anything. Her response is, "so what's wrong with that?" I told her that would put me around the age of 75-76. And her response was simply a repeat of "and, what's wrong with that?" Obviously, not an early retiree mindset...
It depends on the state, of course, but the wife and I are in the TCDRS system for Texas counties and districts. Our previous employer (county) had an 8-year vesting period. My current employer (district) is 10. I can mix and match, so can still vest at 8 using the previous employer's requirement.

Matching from either employer is around 220%!

Several of my co-workers are already vested in one district while finishing up a second, separate vesting here. Two pensions in 20 years. During and after vesting the money you have contributed earns 7%/yr until you retire.
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Old 02-09-2016, 10:13 AM   #24
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That's cool. Can you make money with the lower quality issues, or do you do it just for fun?
There is money to be made for people who follow the market and make savvy purchases, but I mostly do it for fun. Lately most of the money has been made by people anticipating higher interest in certain key books (mostly first appearances) due to the movies. The speculation on them has gotten pretty silly, IMO. I think there is going to be an ugly correction at some point soon that will remind people that these are comic books, not investments.

Most of the cheap stuff stays pretty cheap though. People who make money with the more common stuff do it by buying collections and selling the books individually, either online or at conventions. It's more like buying a job than an investment, IMO. It is something I would like to do a little of when I am FIRE. I just don't have the time right now.
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Old 02-09-2016, 10:19 AM   #25
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$10K of debt in 1979 (which is what my then-SO was shouldering for a state school, while living on campus instead of at home as I did), $40K of debt today. Is that consistent with the CPI, or is it a faster increase? Are today's students getting more or less for their $$?

Bottom line, I'd like to see something more authoritative than a snarky meme before I make any conclusions on where the greenest grass prevails. Like rumors, those memes always have a little grain of truth somewhere, are extremely easy to make up and pass around, and the axes are always grinding so furiously in the background that you can't hear yourself think.

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The quote is true though. Why is that hard for all the old folks on this board to understand? ...Without parental help, graduating from the college I went to is going to involve about 40k of debt for most students.

They even have a meme for you folks--


https://www.google.com/search?q=old+...X6BDAQ_AUIBigB
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Old 02-09-2016, 10:22 AM   #26
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I think 401k's and IRA's are enablers. BUT, they have major limitations that hold some folks back from their full saving potential in tax deferred accounts. e.g. annual contribution limits and RMD's at 70.5. The government seems to want you to save, but not too much or for too long.
IRAs and 401k's are tax advantaged retirement plans. I doubt sheltering them from taxes forever was part of the design objective. Besides, RMD at 70.5 is just, what, 3.65%? Even when you're 90, RMD is just 8.77% and at 100, it's 15.87% (Table III Uniform Lifetime).

My primary issue with 401k's is not everyone has access to one and the current limits for IRA are woefully inadequate. Another thing, unlike 401k contributions which are salary reduction, traditional IRA contributions may be subject to state and local income tax, and depending on income, may not be deductible for federal tax purposes. The limited (often high expense) investment choices can also be pretty detrimental to portfolio growth.

Instead of having companies set up their own separate 401k plans, why not just have everyone switch to IRA, increase IRA contribution limits (mayhaps $50K combined limit for employee+employer contributions or up to 25-50% of gross income whichever is smaller) and make traditional employee IRA contributions salary reduction similar to 401k? Maybe follow SIMPLE IRA rules for vesting of employer match.
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Old 02-09-2016, 10:29 AM   #27
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Anyone in America can be a millionaire if they have enough drive, determination and ambition.
that's the long-standing thought, in certain circles...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horatio_Alger_myth
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Old 02-09-2016, 10:35 AM   #28
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My primary issue with 401k's is not everyone has access to one and the current limits for IRA are woefully inadequate. . . . Instead of having companies set up their own separate 401k plans, why not just have everyone switch to IRA, increase IRA contribution limits (mayhaps $50K combined limit for employee+employer contributions or up to 25-50% of gross income whichever is smaller) and make traditional employee IRA contributions salary reduction similar to 401k? Maybe follow SIMPLE IRA rules for vesting of employer match.
That would be logical and good. The present setup is just an artifact of the patchwork legislation that put each part in place, and it could certainly be made more uniform and logical.
But, any comprehensive reform will involve tinkering and "improving" the system. I'm not confident enough in the way folks now in office think and act that I'd want to roll the dice that the result would be an improvement. So, based on what I've seen lately, I'd be happier to stick with the devil I know. Attempts to improve "fairness" (i.e. equality of outcome) are much in vogue now.
Anyway, there's no prohibition against people saving for retirement outside of these government-encouraged retirement accounts. The present tax code is pretty favorable in its treatment of earned income as well as dividends and cap gains for those of low/moderate income, which effectively is another retirement savings benefit for those at the low end of the income scale--if they'll just forego the new car, $100/mo phone plan, $150 cable bill, etc and put some money away.
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Old 02-09-2016, 10:47 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
$10K of debt in 1979 (which is what my then-SO was shouldering for a state school, while living on campus instead of at home as I did), $40K of debt today. Is that consistent with the CPI, or is it a faster increase? Are today's students getting more or less for their $$?

Bottom line, I'd like to see something more authoritative than a snarky meme before I make any conclusions on where the greenest grass prevails. Like rumors, those memes always have a little grain of truth somewhere, are extremely easy to make up and pass around, and the axes are always grinding so furiously in the background that you can't hear yourself think.

Amethyst
I'm guessing your SO didn't work at all in school, or else spent a fair amount more to live than most college students to rack up $10k in debt in 1979. That seems like a massive amount of debt for that time period for a state school. I would expect that to be quite a bit more than the total cost of tuition at that time.

I went to the University of Minnesota starting in 1990. The cost for tuition there was in the $3k ballpark at that time. It is about $13.8k today (both are in-state numbers). Adjusted for inflation $3k in 1990 is about $5.5k today. So the real cost of tuition has more than doubled in that time.

I found that by working 20-25 hours per week during the school year and more than 40 hours per week in the summer, I could pay for my living expenses and an just a little more on the student jobs I had. I would have had to borrow to pay the tuition, but I got about $200/month of help from family that mostly paid the tuition. I was able to graduate debt free. Note that I lived on my own someone cheaper than the dorms would have been. I didn't have a car.

Adjusted for inflation today, that $200/month would be $4.3k/year, which barely makes a dent in the tuition these days. I would need either much more family assistance, or a massive amount of student debt to graduate these days.

Someone living in the dorms and not working would need to borrow about $100k for a four-year degree today--

https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q...nesota+tuition
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Old 02-09-2016, 10:49 AM   #30
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$10K of debt in 1979 (which is what my then-SO was shouldering for a state school, while living on campus instead of at home as I did), $40K of debt today. Is that consistent with the CPI, or is it a faster increase? Are today's students getting more or less for their $$?
I plugged $10K into an inflation calculator, and it comes out to around $32,600 in 2015 dollars.

I don't know when college costs really started shooting up, but I know that they've gone up faster than inflation, since I graduated.

My first semester at the University of Maryland was about $850, for tuition. I was a commuter student. That was the fall of 1988. By spring of 1993, it was up to around $1500. And I hear that today, it's about $5,000.

Adjusting for inflation, $850 in 1988 would be $1038 in 1993, and $1703 in 2015. Even the $1500 in 1993 would be about $2460.
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Old 02-09-2016, 10:53 AM   #31
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I guess I am getting too crotchety in my old age, but statements like this just gall me.

"The inability to save isn’t because we’re wasting money on kitchen remodeling or fancy coffee",

Umm, well yes it is. It is exactly because of this way of thinking.

"And millennials have the extra burden of staggering student debt."
Well no, the smart ones don't.

I see young people, even those who spend wisely, spend way, waaaay more than I did when I was in college. I needed a bed, I bought an old mattress with such a big hole in the middle I had to stuff with rags to sleep on it. I never bought coffee out or ate at restaurants. When I went out, on those rare occasions, I bought one beer and it had to last me all night, because that is all I could afford. Sure I knew people with large student debt even back then, but even though my meatloaf was mostly corn meal I always had money in the bank.

Now kids in college have to have craft beers with every meal, Starbucks coffee in the morning, and complain times are hard. I am sorry, I don't buy it.

Not to say I didn't have a lot of fun in College, went camping, did lots of free things around campus, worked at an interesting job, lots of friends and good discussions, played guitar with my friends, composed music. Even found there were beautiful women who like being with someone they found interesting, even if they were not rich.

Sure the average person will have a hard time. They always have. My advice, stop complaining, things are how they are, and don't settle for being average.

And get off my lawn...
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Old 02-09-2016, 11:07 AM   #32
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I am glad you were able to retire early at 52.

Not everybody is as fortunate.

Many people don't have 401-k options.
Many people are working 2-3 jobs just to get by. If you have read the book by Barbara "Nickel and Dimed - Not Getting by in America" you will know what I am talking about.
Many people have no financial education, informal or otherwise.
People think they will work till 65, but their body fails them and they are forced out of a job. Or the company gets rid of their "deadwood" and nobody wants to hire a 55-year old or a 60-year old. And before Obamacare, a medical problem occurs and they went bankrupt (that might possibly be true even today).


I do get what they say in the article. For the vast majority of Americans, the old pension system was better than the "new" 401-k system. The new system is better for the financial savvy folks, which is probably a small percentage of Americans, less than 50% for sure.
The problem is that few companies have the profits coming in to support their operations AND fund a defined pension program for their employees. My pension was funded by Ford Motor Company when it was very profitable and even though their pension plan investments returned the best income anywhere, they cut out their pensions and moved to good 401K programs.

Governments used to underpay their employees, but promise great vacation and pension programs to keep employees. Over the years, their pay increased to as good as private industry--or better. But they never cut their pension programs.

Tennessee Valley Authority cut their employment from 34,000 to about 10,000, but they're $ billions short of meeting pension obligations on living retirees. Look at Detroit with their recent bankruptcy over pension obligations. There are many state and cities that are in just as bad condition.

In this world, the only one you can really count on is yourself. And that means you should live below your means and save more than normal to take care of you in your later years. It's up to our children to fund their own retirement savings, as old Dad may have to spend all of his funds to live on--now that we're living longer. Hopefully we'll have enough $ to live respectively and stay out of nursing homes, etc.
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Old 02-09-2016, 11:08 AM   #33
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Thanks for the stats. They are interesting.

Are the students getting "more or less" for this increased tuition? I realize that's hard to quantify. But if you're going to speculate about what my boyfriend was doing 40 years ago, I can also engage in speculation: For example, in 1979 we were using punch-cards for our programming courses, and competing for scraps of computer time on a huge, slow mainframe computer. Today's students would have it somewhat better than that I suspect

Campus cafeteria food probably hasn't improved much. But I bet there isn't rampant smoking in the classrooms to damage the non-smokers' health, as there was at my Old School.

The job market at the time was a tad bit competitive (what with all those bad, older baby boomers having taken all the jobs! See, we even have intragenerational resentment) and the school provided no job placement help whatsoever. I ended up going to an employment agency and paying them to find me an entry-level job. I imagine that wouldn't happen to today's straight-A student, but what do I know.

Actually, now that I think about it, I am not sure what these debates over "who has it worse" (however popular) are meant to accomplish.

Amethyst

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I'm guessing your SO didn't work at all in school, or else spent a fair amount more to live than most college students to rack up $10k in debt in 1979.
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Old 02-09-2016, 11:14 AM   #34
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College costs have gone up largely due to the huge amount of federal (and federal-backed) student loans which threw a giant amount of cash into the pot. "Free money" will do that to prices (see "home prices" and "medical costs" for other examples). Then, people cite the increasing cost of "education" (which apparently cannot be conducted without lavish gymnasiums/fitness bars, single-occupant dorms, and an ever increasing number of admin staff to augment the folks actually teaching) as requiring >more< government aid. I say "turn off the money spigot" and education costs will decrease. As an added benefit, maybe the curricula will more closely approximate the skills needed to be a productive citizen.
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Old 02-09-2016, 11:19 AM   #35
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Thanks for the stats. They are interesting.

Are the students getting "more or less" for this increased tuition? I realize that's hard to quantify. But if you're going to speculate about what my boyfriend was doing 40 years ago, I can also engage in speculation: For example, in 1979 we were using punch-cards for our programming courses, and competing for scraps of computer time on a huge, slow mainframe computer. Today's students would have it somewhat better than that I suspect

Campus cafeteria food probably hasn't improved much. But I bet there isn't rampant smoking in the classrooms to damage the non-smokers' health, as there was at my Old School.

The job market at the time was a tad bit competitive (what with all those bad, older baby boomers having taken all the jobs! See, we even have intragenerational resentment) and the school provided no job placement help whatsoever. I ended up going to an employment agency and paying them to find me an entry-level job. I imagine that wouldn't happen to today's straight-A student, but what do I know.

Actually, now that I think about it, I am not sure what these debates over "who has it worse" (however popular) are meant to accomplish.

Amethyst
I think all I am trying to accomplish is to make the older generation realize that the start of life for this most recent generation is more difficult financially than it has been for a very long time. There are lots of things that are massively better for this younger generation. For the most part, the world is a pretty awesome place compared to when I was a kid.

However, the economics of getting an education and joining the workforce have gotten much worse (in the US). They aren't just complaining because they feel overly entitled. They have a lot less income than we did 25 years ago compared to the cost of education, and that education is required by employers much more frequently than it was 25 years ago. Many of the alternatives to college are also tending to pay much less than they used to.
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Old 02-09-2016, 11:23 AM   #36
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That would be logical and good. The present setup is just an artifact of the patchwork legislation that put each part in place, and it could certainly be made more uniform and logical.
But, any comprehensive reform will involve tinkering and "improving" the system. I'm not confident enough in the way folks now in office think and act that I'd want to roll the dice that the result would be an improvement. So, based on what I've seen lately, I'd be happier to stick with the devil I know. Attempts to improve "fairness" (i.e. equality of outcome) are much in vogue now.
Anyway, there's no prohibition against people saving for retirement outside of these government-encouraged retirement accounts. The present tax code is pretty favorable in its treatment of earned income as well as dividends and cap gains for those of low/moderate income, which effectively is another retirement savings benefit for those at the low end of the income scale--if they'll just forego the new car, $100/mo phone plan, $150 cable bill, etc and put some money away.
There's no prohibition against saving in taxable accounts for retirement but you have to admit, people with access to workplace retirement plans have an advantage.

My marginal tax rate is 34.3% (25% federal, 9.3% state). I have access to a 457 where I contributed $12k in 2015. If I didn't have the 457, then I would only be able to save less than $8k in taxable. This year, I'm contributing $15k which would have been less than $10k in taxable and next year, I plan to finally max out my 457 contributions. Yes, I realize I'm only deferring taxes but at my current spending level, I'd only be in 21% marginal (15% federal, 6% state).

They don't even need to get rid of 401k's. One option would be to increase IRA contribution limits to the same level as 401k/403b/etc and keep the same rules (if you're not covered by a workplace plan, tIRA contributions are 100% deductible, otherwise subject to income limits). Also, get rid of the income limits for Roth IRA contributions. As far as I'm aware, there are no income limitations for contributing to a Roth 401k.
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Old 02-09-2016, 11:28 AM   #37
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different world? definitely

401k plans were never designed to be the primary source of private pension income

it takes lots of savings and disciplined investing for the rank and file employee to duplicate DB income via a tax-qualified savings program

for example, assuming 4% interest and salary increase rate, if a 25 year old employee started saving 20% of pay (this may include matches etc), after 30 years he or she would have a nestegg sufficient to replace about 35% of income. Tough to ER on that.
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Old 02-09-2016, 11:35 AM   #38
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College costs have gone up largely due to the huge amount of federal (and federal-backed) student loans which threw a giant amount of cash into the pot. "Free money" will do that to prices (see "home prices" and "medical costs" for other examples). Then, people cite the increasing cost of "education" (which apparently cannot be conducted without lavish gymnasiums/fitness bars, single-occupant dorms, and an ever increasing number of admin staff to augment the folks actually teaching) as requiring >more< government aid. I say "turn off the money spigot" and education costs will decrease. As an added benefit, maybe the curricula will more closely approximate the skills needed to be a productive citizen.
You might be right. I disagree to some extent, but it doesn't really matter. Regardless of why costs are so high, students today have little choice but to pay them. Corporate America requires a college degree these days, and the alternatives to megacorp are generally paying less.

It's either get the degree or continue working for < $10/hr for many, many people.
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Old 02-09-2016, 11:48 AM   #39
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I went to UC Santa Barbara in the late 70s and early 80s. Tuition was $750 per year. Today I think it is $10k to $12k per year. However, back then you cannot get $12k per year in FAFSA and another $2,500 in an American Opportunity Tax Credit.

Back then tuition, books, room and board were about $25k to $30k for 4 years. Today it's about $100k. Subtract almost $60k for FAFSA and Tax credits and today's cost can be as low as $40k. It's not as different as it appears.
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Old 02-09-2016, 12:05 PM   #40
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I just checked the tuition and fees for Texas State Univ. (Not the University of Texas) This is one of the smaller Texas universities. For four classes tuition and fees run $3,500 a semester. Five years, 4 classes a semester equals about $35,000 for a degree, plus books. Living at home, and a job at a fast food restaurant and you should be able to graduate with little or no debt.

A friend of mine's daughter graduates from Sam Houston State in 3.5 years. She applied for just about every scholarship she could think of, lived at home and worked part time. She had money left over in her school account when she graduated. She got a job upon graduation as a school teacher in her home town.

Borrowing money, living on campus, or apartment is easy and fun!

On the other side, the average college debt is a little over $35,000. Seeing as most will then go out and buy a new car for $20-35K and pay it off in five years, college debt seems a little over blown. However, when I see news reports of kids getting degrees that don't lead to well paying jobs at private or public schools that have large cost, it makes me wonder where there parents are.

Congratulations, Class of 2015. You’re the Most Indebted Ever (For Now) - Real Time Economics - WSJ
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