Thomas R.

Las Vegas, NV

I myself have only 401k to rely on if I were to work for the same employer until my retirement.  My employer has phased out their cash balance pension plan right before I got onboard.  Many other employers do the same because 401k program transfers the responsibility of retirement planning to the employees because employers could save a ton of money in a long run.  So 401k has become the only source of retirement savings for most of us down the road.

One painful lesson I learned from the stock market crashes in 2002 and then in 2008/2009 was that my retirement income was not secured no matter how much I saved in my 401k. I feel lucky that my retirement accounts make a comeback because I am not rattled by the market's gyration and stay invested.  Many others are less fortunate.  Saving for retirement should not incur a high fee.   Yet many employers' 401k plans consist of mainly high cost, poor performing mutual funds. Perhaps the purpose of 401k is for the benefit of mutual fund and insurance industry and not for people like myself.  To paint a less rosy picture, 401k is just another way to make big profits for the mutual fund and insurance companies at the expense of retirement savers.

To utilize 401k effectively, a worker not only needs to be a diligent saver, she also needs to be a knowledgeable investor at the same time.   Very few people possess both characteristics.  It is hard for most of us to save in today's economy.  Many of us have so many financial obligations to deal with and saving for our retirement is not among them because it seems to be so far away.  As a result, many of us will retire in poverty or work until we drop.  Even if we want to work in our "retirement", I believe most employers may not want us at all.  More and more workers were forced to retire earlier than they expected.  I myself have also experienced job loss during the Great Recession.  So I understand very well the impact of unemployment.  Job loss would almost certainly throw a monkey wrench in anyone's retirement planning.

Another worry I have is that my social security benefits would almost certainly be cut by the time I retire.  Therefore, I really hope a new retirement income stream, which is designed to supplement my 401k and my social security benefits, be created.  If this country has so many poor senior citizens down the roard, it could create a big social issue.

The new supplemental retirement program I want see should be nonprofit, should follow the same investment philosophy as annuities administered by insurance or mutual fund companies, and should be tightly-regulated.  Participation should be mandatory among all workers.