I graduated college in 1979 with an engineering degree. I was fortunate to land a job with a large petrochemical company which promised a “lifetime pension” so long as I stayed in their employment for at least 25 years. I was set for life, financially; or so I thought.
About eight years into the deal, the company announced that it could no longer finance the pension program and that our pensions were being replaced with something even better–something called a “401(k)”. We were promised that we’d have “total control” over our retirement savings, that we could contribute up to 10% of our salary into the program, and that the company would “match” our contributions plus 50%.
We were, of course, skeptical, but we had no choice but to comply. And anyway, who could say no to 150% on the dollar? Unbeknownst to us, like lemmings marching toward the cliff, we were heading toward a financial fall from which many of us would never recover.
For a few years, things went as promised and we were all accumulating nice nest eggs. Then, the company announced that it could no longer afford to match 150% and that their matching was being reduced to 100%. Soon after, we learned that the company was reneging on their commitments again and would only be matching up to 6% of our salary. Within a few more years the company was still matching only 6% of our salary but at a paltry 40% level. About that time, it became obvious that the pension income we’d been originally promised was never going to be possible with a 401(k) program. I and my co-workers had been duped and many of us resigned given that a major incentive for staying had been stolen from us.
Years later, as I became much more financially savvy, I learned that the 410(k) was never designed or intended to be a retirement savings program. Actually, it was just another perk given to senior executives by Congress to provide them with an additional place to stash their cash and defer taxes. These same executives, upon realizing that their companies could no longer afford pensions, came up with the brilliant idea of replacing pensions with 401(k)s and “the great 401(k) experiment” began. In all fairness, I can’t say whether or not these executives knew at that time they were going to be bilking their employees out of their retirement dreams, but the fact was, that was destined to happen.
That experiment, while saving employers billions, created a trillion dollar industry that for decades has sucked out of American’s pockets an estimated 70% of the retirement income we would have enjoyed if the original pension promises had been kept. But don’t take my word for it… click here to read Robert Kiyosakia’s detailed history of how 401(k)’s are robbing billions from Americans annually.
“The average worker will lose $154,794 to 401 (k) fees over his lifetime. A higher income worker, making approximately $90,000 per year, will lose upward to $277,000. Tom Hiltonsmith Ph.D. economics at the think tank Demos, in this report “The Retirement Saving Drain: The Hidden & Excessive Costs of 401 (k)’s”.
Realizing one has been deceived and swindled is frustrating enough, but what infuriates me more is that thirty years later, most Americans don’t even realize this has happened to them and what’s worse, they’re advising their children and grandchildren to go along with the same scam. Talk about your lemmings!
Let me state it as clearly as I know how, a 401(k) is one of the worst vehicles you can choose for growing and protecting your retirement nest egg.
Fortunately, for those who still have time to build their retirement nest eggs, there is a happy ending to this story.
Today, there are vehicles which Americans can use to build a pension every bit as good as the one I was promised in 1979 and in many ways, even better. If you’re interested in learning more about these vehicles, I encourage you to visit www.areyoubulletproof.com and begin your retirement education process.