The US census of 1990, 2000 and 2010 all show that 90% of Americans retire at or below poverty income levels. Why is this you ask? It is because there is only 1 way to retire that is to have social security, a passive income stream (like a pension) and personal savings. What companies have done is eliminated pensions so we are retiring on only the social security and whatever we have in our 401k account. You have $101,000 or so in your 401k. I know that because Vanguard recently reported the average 401k balance at year-end 2013 was only $101,650. If this is the average then some are more and some or less. But a realistic view of what that means is that a whole lot of us are below that figure. Nobody can retire on $100,000.
The typical investment advisor will tell you how to diversify your portfolio. They will tell you to grow your nest egg. But growing a large pile of money never retires anybody. The pile can’t ever be large enough for you to retire. What stops you from retiring is that at the end of every month a bill comes in. That bill could be rent, car note, or food. Since you like eating you need income to pay that bill. What retires you is not piles of money but income…passive income. A pension is income and they took those away. So what you need to do is replace the income lost when pensions were taken away. That is what real estate will do for you.
I was in corporate America working sixty to eighty hours a week at a job that I really loved. Although I was paid very well and I was under a pension system and had a 401k, I was still trading time for money. I was too busy earning a living to have a life. When I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, I was in my orientation with a major international chemical company. There were people who came in to explain how the purchasing process worked, how project funds were approved, how to organize projects for successful monitoring of costs and completion, how to work with contractors and bids etc. They even explained the difference between projects that were going to be capital versus expenses. Then the session changed and they discussed human resources issues. They told us about the progressive discipline process, hours of work and how the performance review process worked. Then the benefits session came up and the director of human resources came in to do a section on retirement. As a newly minted 23-year-old engineer, retirement was not even on the radar. All I could think about was buying fast cars and chasing as many girls as I could. But I did learn from him how to retire. He told me that retirement was a 3 legged stool. You can’t retire effectively without all 3 legs. The 3 legs are company pension, social security, and personal savings. He said that social security is in place, and working for a good company like DuPont, Union Carbide or Enron would secure your pension. The government realized that personal savings was too low in America. Because of this they instituted a change to the tax code in section 401k. This was intended to add incentive for people to save. This was an adjunct to your retirement program. As you now know the 401k is THE retirement program. They have taken an ancillary part of the retirement program and made it the only retirement program. We are looking to retire with only 1 leg under us.