Vigor and more

December 16, 2012 § 2 Comments

Last Friday, as I was driving back to Berkeley from San Francisco, my eye caught sight of a new billboard soon after the Bay Bridge. It read something like: “Longevity is increasing rapidly. Save vigorously”. Yours truly, Bank of America, if I remember well.

What is the message behind??

It is pretty easy and pervasive: it is up to us to make sure that we have enough money when we retire. By now, we have a good idea that we may live to a 100 and more, so we need to save “vigorously”, as much as we diet and exercise. The other subtler message behind is that our destiny is up to our diligence and perspicacity. We are in it alone. Even more, the assumption is that everyone can and should save money.

Missing is the scenario that some of us may not be able to save money because too pressed to make ends meet at the end of the month or that we had an employer that did not give us a retirement plan, or we were not employed because we were raising children or caregiving someone. There is much much more to that simplistic and frankly dangerous idea that all we have to do is save with all our forces. Needless to say, those living alone often struggle more to make ends meet. UCLA published a great report on that two years ago. Also, older solo dwellers may have less savings in their older age than those living with others because of the expenses that come with managing an household alone. So, when we see ads like that (there are millions along those lines), let’s raise our critical antennae and see what lurks behind.

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