The Water Cooler – Are You Saving For Retirement?

February 22, 2021 12:00 pm · 59 comments

The “Water Cooler” is a feature on where we ask you a question or provide a topic, and you talk about it.

The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday in the noon hour.

QUESTION: Are you saving for retirement? If so, what have you done to make sure you’ll live a comfortable life after you stop working? And if you’re already retired, what advice would you give to others?

Talk about it….

{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

Stove February 22, 2021 at 12:06 PM

Not this year since prices for everything have gone up a lot and my pay at work has been same for 3 years.


stove February 22, 2021 at 12:34 PM

actually my pat went down 12.5% due to less hours available, but that
doesn’t quality for unemployment.

Kentucky Derby February 22, 2021 at 12:11 PM

We started saving for retirement when we got married in the 80s. We were in our 20s, and we’re comfortable with what we saved. We just set aside a certain percentage of our income annually. If we do run out of money we can sell our second home that we’ve paid off. Out living your money would be scary, and it could happen to anyone.


Anonymous February 22, 2021 at 12:13 PM

I didn’t start saving well into my 30s. I worked a series of crappy jobs that did not offer retirement benefits and my parents were not up on those things, so they did not really educate me in investing. I opened my first IRA in 1991 (on my own) and finally got with a company that offered a 401k in 1997. I was in my mid-30s by that point. I maxed-out the 401k every year and contribute after tax to the IRA. In the end, I will do okay. I probably have half of what I should have at this point, but the house will be paid-off soon and I’m not 60 yet.

I hound the hell out of my daughter about investing. She’s 19 and I want her to open a Roth IRA right now. I tell her about investment growth, tax implications, stocks, investing vs. gambling (i.e. stocks vs. crypto) and try to educated her as best I can so she will retire with a fat nest egg long after I’m gone.

I may not have had the benefit of parental investment education, but my daughter sure as hell will. The other day I heard her advising her friend about stocks on the phone. Just when you think they don’t listen, they do. 🙂


Original G February 22, 2021 at 1:11 PM

Outstanding effort, I nominate you for Parent of the Year.

Jeff (the other one?) February 22, 2021 at 7:35 PM

Anonymous, the detail of your child made me grin. I love hearing my daughter talk stocks with me, and more so, her friends (who do not save).

TTD February 22, 2021 at 12:17 PM

Yes, we have always lived well below our means. No debt (including the house), pay cash for our purchases and/or pay off credit cards each month; plus, set aside money each paycheck for retirement and savings. It is all about discipline and not trying to “keep up with the Jones”. Because of our habits we have been able to breathe easier during this pandemic in regard to money matters.


Same February 22, 2021 at 12:34 PM

Yes. I am saving for everyone else’s retirement in the form of biweekly OASDI payments.


Hello February 22, 2021 at 12:40 PM

Since getting out of college and entering the work force in the late 1990s, been taking advantage of saving opportunities. We max our 401K contributions, making sure we get the company matching. A few years ago, health savings accounts have come around, so we’ve been maxing out our contributions there.

I think we’ve done pretty well, as we’ve been avid savers. It’s good to enjoy things once in awhile, and plan accordingly. We recently moved to Danville after spending years saving up living in a cheaper area. The cheaper area ended up being, more ‘interesting’ recently, so we wanted to move to a nicer neighborhood.

As long as you plan things out, and yeah, not worry about the Joneses, then you’ll do fine.


Chris February 22, 2021 at 12:43 PM

The Democrats are going to pay for everything so we spend every dollar we make. Our student loans will be forgiven soon. Next, we’ll try for credit card debt forgiveness.
As far as advice, I’d say go out and live like it’s your last day as long as the Democrats have our backs.


Joe February 22, 2021 at 2:07 PM

Couple years ago I opened a Custodial Trading Account for my then 15yr old son. Stuck $1,000 in it and taught him how to trade stocks.
He’s learnt a lot and done very well. It a great tool to get kids hands on experience. My bank didn’t offer Custodial (under age) accounts. TDAmeritrade does and the trading fees are lower.


Reasonable February 22, 2021 at 2:39 PM

Yep, Why work hard, work overtime, live below your means, spend money on advanced degrees or college, have any personal responsibility, etc. If you do and build any security, you’ll just have a tax target on your back. Everybody that works and receives any kind of income should pay some sort of income tax. Everyone needs to have a stick in the game.

Almost Famous February 23, 2021 at 3:06 PM

@ Chris Do everyone a favor and take your Rhetoric to the political page (just sayin)!

Giddyup February 23, 2021 at 6:09 PM

@ Almost Famous Because he used the word “Democrat” in his comment?

chuckie the troll February 22, 2021 at 12:53 PM

Already retired. My advice: max out your IRA and or deferred comp account. Pay off your house. Don’t take on debt. Don’t take on long term financial obligations. Only buy what you need. Don’t buy if it isn’t on sale. Leave California for a lower cost state. I find that financial discipline is not common.


Tsa February 22, 2021 at 2:38 PM

I second all the advice you mention. I’ll add, keep your car for 10+years and do preventative maintenance. Maintain an emergency fund for unforeseen expenses and save monthly during the year for annual payments on bills to avoid monthly service fees.
Keep it in your pocket, not theirs!!!

Jeff (the other one?) February 22, 2021 at 7:41 PM

Congrats Chuckie (I know you have mentioned this before). I am looking forward to that point, and yes, we will be leaving California. I too live like the advice you have given, and my kids are given the same advice (and live it).

Russ Sayin February 22, 2021 at 12:55 PM

Nope. Just gonna set up a Go Fund Me page when the time is right


Original G February 22, 2021 at 1:06 PM

Now ya went an did it.

The Secret, start saving for retirement EARLY !
Our retirement is set.

With advances in medicine you will likely live more years retired than you did years working. An all this is based expecting the person has and will continue to learn adding to their skill set which is IN DEMAND, by employers.

Am so tired of having newly hired kids, smart enough to pass possibly the hardest written and practical bench test for industrial electrician, in central CA, and fresh outta school electrical or mechanical engineers who have no understanding of difference between simple and compound interest.

An guess ’cause of all the white hair they ask me investment and retirement advice. Investment advice limited to take the 300k profit, OUCH, before the DOT com bust.

So here we go,
first off write down for a month to nearest dollar where your money goes.
Groceries, gas, junk food, fast food (same difference) personal items, utilities, cable, rent or house payment, vehicle payments everything you spend money on.
Second what could you do without or buy fewer of in a month ?
An that’s when ya get vacant stares.

Had a guy who’d show up fives days a week to morning Safety meetings, with coffee he’d bought on his way to work. Asked him what they cost, then asked how many he bought average in a week. OK, multiply number bought in a week by price. Then multiply that by 4 to get cost per month, take that answer by 12 for cost over a year.

About the time he figured out cost per year you could see the color drain from his face, as reality set in.
That money could have gone to retirement, maybe ? ?

Primary, have at least 6 month gross salary saved and don’t touch it.
Next pay down debt, then max out on 410K contributions.
Then fund additional retirement options.

Next is a blown up 11 x 17 copy of a print out demonstrating the effect of compounding. First person invests $2,000 a year for six years then stops, $12,000 total saved. Second person starts invests $2,000 a year after first person stops. (seventh year) Both getting same amount of return each year

That second person continues to save $2,000 each year until retirement at retirement age of 65. Because of compounding they both end up with roughly the same amount of money at retirement. When you start matters.
Those first six years demonstrate the effect of compounding.

Also suggest that they go to at least four fee based financial planners to discuss their future and retirement planning. Get expert advice !
By the fourth or fifth one you get a feel of what advice to trust.

Also people it’s their choice of how they live in retirement.
They can plan and they’ll have golden years of retirement OR they can not plan and they can spend their retirement under the golden arches askin’

“ya wanna supersize them fries ?”


anon February 22, 2021 at 2:06 PM

I’m tired now after reading all that.

PH_Dad February 22, 2021 at 2:57 PM

Sage advice. I should have started a 401k when I joined the Navy at 19, but didn’t know about it as there was no financial advice at the time.
When I got out I got a job with an employer with an actual pension and started 10% to a 401k.
Plan to retire next year, essentially debt free with a secure financial future ahead of me because I followed most of those simple rules…

Shoulda Coulda February 22, 2021 at 4:47 PM

Thanks O G for taking the time to share
some of your wisdom with us!

Original G February 22, 2021 at 5:14 PM

Retirement is something ya really want to get right, am glad to be able share and to have such a valuable resource as Claycord to share it on.

Is important we relate our experience and help each other out.

Kentucky Derby February 22, 2021 at 6:36 PM

Unless you retire at 35-40, you don’t spend more time retired than you do working. If you start working at 16, and retire at 65-70, that’s over 50 years of employment. Are you planning on living until 120 years old? And speaking of “difference between” why do you always use “an” instead of and?

Original G February 23, 2021 at 1:25 AM

Each year life span increases, an yes do know some dot com folks who were smarter than I, weren’t pigs and cashed out at the peak.
An they’re still alive and still comfortably retired.

Parents planned well for retirement did what many have mentioned on this thread. Even after gifting the max each year to us kids and grand kids they still left us inheritances.

And thanks for noticing an and and.
And no, I don’t always use an. But I do so knowingly, an on purpose.
Hopefully high school english teacher, spins in his grave each time.

Mother of Dragons February 22, 2021 at 1:29 PM

Yes, saving, maxing out retirement accounts. Plan to leave Cali to retire.


Doh February 22, 2021 at 1:30 PM

I tried to save. Had an account with Merrill Lynch. I lost 80% in 1 of their best mutual funds that was supposed to invest only in solid stocks. I put a bunch of money in an index fund of theirs. They charged me 6% instead of 2% like everyone else. That fund disappeared so they renamed and merged it so they would not look bad because it lost money. ML could not manage an index fund. In 2008 I lost half of my retirement thanks to Wall St greed and scams. No one went to jail. Of course I moved my money out of Merrill Lynch and invested in Treasury bonds that pay almost nothing because the federal rate is almost zero. Fortunately I have equity in my house so I can give it to a nursing home when the time comes.


Who Dat Gurl February 23, 2021 at 6:10 PM

@ Doh,

What you experienced is what many of us experienced when the economy tanks/stock market crashes. Seems to me, that if you took all of your money out of the market AFTER it crashed, you missed the gains when the market picked back up again (which it always does).

Wisdom: do not rely on “professional” stock brokers/financial planners to save & invest for you. Take a day off, go to seminars, read investment books, chat with Fidelity advisors (not compensated for their suggestions) and take control of your own retirement.

Bella February 22, 2021 at 1:31 PM

Observed my father, a great investor in properties and owed nothing, helped those who needed it, and usually got the best of the deal, youngest of four brothers and they counted on him and he knew how to manage and wasn’t going to lose. I learned a lot watching him. After marriage within two weeks, we had the family contact from Sonoma County out to the home to set up our Trusts, IRA’s and more. Did it for the children too. College was to be no problem. Was left after my husband died with some things to handle but have four homes in California 2 free and clear and a third one soon. The fourth I’m in and Living Trusts and Retirements.


Bella February 22, 2021 at 1:34 PM

Start as early as possible….


Strad February 22, 2021 at 2:01 PM

Don’ underestimate the cost of health care, it always gets more expensive.


Bob February 22, 2021 at 2:07 PM

Years ago I was working for a large California Corporation–we had about 10,000 retirees and we decided to do a survey to see how they were doing–the survey was quite extensive and asked many questions–the answers were quite clear–there were two main points–1. I wish I would have started earlier planning for my retirement and 2. I wish I would have shared the planing with my spouse or partner–


The Mamba February 22, 2021 at 2:11 PM

Yes, I’ve always wanted to stop working.


Anon February 22, 2021 at 2:14 PM

I was putting 20% into 401k, but 3 years ago I decided I really should focus on paying off my house.
I refinanced 300k (what I owed) in 2015 for a 15 year loan…….June 1st 2015 was the first payment. union claimed that “the brand” of loan I got did not allow for bi-monthly payments….this really bugged me so I started paying extra each month which eventually became double and triple payments. 🙂
The targeted payoff date will now be June 2021. I will then go back to maxxing out 401k + I think I’ll be able to pay more into 401k in 2 years when I turn 50. I’ll be adding a Roth IRA as well.

This is from a guy who does Not blow money on BS. If you like coffee… buy the beans and grind and brew your own (one bag of French roast costs less than that SINGLE latte you just bought). I DO NOT need a new phone when the latest Hype & Gimmick phone is released. Clothing, my clothes are nice….but Not with designer logos everywhere. Cars: I drive cars that are the most maintenance free and reliable. (I don’t do car payments, Total Scam).
I eat healthy….the trade off on it supposedly costing more to eat healthy = you are sick less often and able to work any OT when it becomes available.

I recently re-discovered Dave Ramsey on youtube…..I had been doing all of his steps on autopilot. Also, I’ve been inside kitchens of senior care facilities….NO THANKS. I’ll get an in home caretaker should that time comes.


Roz February 22, 2021 at 2:38 PM

Well, from the start, we were 20-22 years old when married. Hubby said he wanted to retire by 45!!, Well Crap, got to get a game plan. We saved 1 1/2 years of my salary to buy a little house and did it.
Then Surprise, a baby on the way. I didn’t go back to work for a while, but we worked out a budget, and no credit card(s).
Hubby’s newer job (2002) paid better, and had a 401K plan, that was good. Paid the house off at 45-47 age (2003), then started to max the 401K with was house payment money.
Thank goodness, Hubby likes his job, and is waiting to retire next year at 66 1/2, and we will be in good shape for it. When others want to know what to do, Hubby says, ask my Wife,…LOL!
P.S.~ One can budget and still enjoy home grilled steak once a week.


Hanne Jeppesen February 23, 2021 at 10:26 PM

Actually one can budget and still enjoy some luxuries. I buy candles and wrapping material at the dollar store, both are fine, wrapping paper and gift bags just go in the trash anyway. I give myself a facial and do my own nails instead of going to a beauty parlor, but then I never liked sitting still while someone is fussing over me. Do like a good haircut, since I was furloughed I have been going to Paris Beauty School on Willow Pass $8.00 for a haircut, I leave a nice tip. At some point I will probably go back to my regular stylist which is about $50.00. Bought a nice used Toyota Camry about 3 years ago, it looks and drive fine. I’m lucky I work at Macy’s we get a nice employee discount, and when you are in store all the time, you can really find good deals, so my wardrobe has not suffered.

The Fearless Spectator February 22, 2021 at 3:04 PM

I received pretty good advice when I was young and it’s served me well:

1- Pay yourself before your creditors (ie put money away and invest it)
2- Don’t eat your money: Try to reserve dining out for special occasions
3- Never leverage a depreciating asset
4- Hyper-amortize your mortgage by paying additional principal
5- Remember your bucket has two holes in it called taxes and inflation
6-Assuming an 8% return, your investments should double every 10 years,
plan major life events around those increments
7-Remove income generating assets from your IRA before retirement, there
there are several legal ways to do this.
8- If you can live on annual withdrawals of 4% of your liquid assets and
maintain your principal, you can afford to retire and leave money to heirs
9- I learned one thing from Mr. Newsom: If you go to the French Laundry be
be sure someone else pays for it.


Dawg February 22, 2021 at 3:59 PM

Buy a house, even if that means you have to drive an old clunker and eat rice and beans. Give up your cell phone for a landline, nix the Starbucks and make your own coffee. If you can afford rent, you can afford a mortgage. Rent out a room if you have to, do whatever it takes and take out a 15 year mortgage. In 4 or 5 years, it won’t seem as expensive anymore and in 15 years when it’s paid for, you’ll be sitting pretty.
Don’t have the money for a down payment? Borrow it, use a credit card, use two credit cards if you have to. Buy a house with an extra room you can rent out to pay off the down payment. It won’t take long to pay it off, then you can kick out the renter and live in your new home in piece and quiet.
Once the house is paid off, use the extra money to save for retirement.


Hanne Jeppesen February 23, 2021 at 10:33 PM

Dawg, My cell phone is cheaper than my landline was. I’m with MetroPCS and have paid $36.00 to 40.00 since I signed up with them more than 10 years ago. I get unlimited calls and text all of the states. I have a Samsung Android and paid about $120.00 for it a few months ago, the one before that I had for about 3 years and it cost me about $75.00. My landline was a lot more, but I did have long distance and international calling so I could stay in touch with friends in Europe. Now we email instead, faster and less time consuming than snail mail.

idiots everywhere February 22, 2021 at 3:59 PM

About 10%, including 3-4% from employer, every year for past 30 years mostly through 401K.
Currently just shy of $1,000,000 with a moderate income.
Never took a loan, or cashed out when changing jobs.
Never sold on a dip.
Slow and steady for another decade and I should be ok.


Mika February 22, 2021 at 4:54 PM

I retired from two civil service careers (federal and state) and earned generous pensions. I also invested a bit in low risk investments that have paid off nicely. I feel for today’s generation. Its so hard to get those nice employer provided pensions anymore.


Dorothy February 22, 2021 at 5:00 PM

Already retired nearly 20 years. Has a boss that encouraged me to get involved with the corporate employee stock purchase plan. When the company was sold I sold my stock. And that led to other investments. Learned about dividend reinvestment. Then the takeover company’s (401) K plan came along and I upped that every time I got a raise by 1%. Betwixt and between I was not only able to get a car fully paid for but also the mortgage. About 5 years ago I started taking the dividend as payments. No matter what the market does, I still not only have more than I put in but now I have to watch what I take out because it is all taxable now.


Mika February 22, 2021 at 5:09 PM

Forgot to mention in my previous post—buy a house! Purchased mine for $80k. Now worth over a million. Best return on investment ever!


Ricardoh February 22, 2021 at 5:13 PM

Here is how you save for retirement. Get a government job. If you do it when you are about 45 you should be in fair shape. You will then have from 25 to 45
for doing something useful.


Well Folks February 22, 2021 at 6:30 PM

45 is a bit late. Got to get in between 20-30. I had coworkers that come to the county in their 40’s. Their retirement contribution from their pay was 3X what mine was and I entered the system at 25.
Go in early, put in 30-35 years and things can be good for life

Exit 12A February 22, 2021 at 5:58 PM

Of course not.
I plan to become a burden on California taxpayers.


remember February 23, 2021 at 7:07 AM

you’ll have lots of company, illegal aliens and socialists

Clarence Rapidies February 22, 2021 at 6:35 PM

Not saving a thing. I’ll get on the government handout list and no worry about savings. Kinda nice.


Hanne Jeppesen February 23, 2021 at 1:38 PM

No matter what anyone says you cannot live well on government handout, besides it rubs you of your dignity. My mother told me it was no shame to be poor as long as you were honest. However, being poor is not something to strive for. Both my parents came from large families, common when they were born, they worked hard all their life and retired comfortably by Danish standard for that time. Both my parents were frugal and my Dad was VERY conservative when it came to money. I listen to Dave Ramsey, I like his philosophy on money: Make it, invest and save, be generous and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor. Wish I had found him earlier, but I’m doing okay. My dad left out the enjoy it, when he preached to me about money. So I rebelled and wasn’t always careful with it, however I learned from my mistakes, and now I pay attention to every penny. It makes a difference.

Gititogether February 22, 2021 at 7:21 PM

Diversify your investments – don’t go for the big kill
Live under your means
Looking for ways to save money ain’t being cheap, it’s being smart
Don’t loan money you can’t afford to write off
Avoid gold diggers
Live well; live in the best area, exercise regularly, interact with honest friends, indulge in 1-2 hobbies


TPC February 22, 2021 at 7:39 PM

I am 57 years old, and have worked since the age of 14.5. Full time since around 18. I’ve served a lot of pizza, fixed a lot of pianos, cleaned up a lot of hazardous waste, and had a lot of desk jobs. The best thing that happened to me financially was getting laid off and finding a new job as a Public Employee. Enter CalPers. I’ve got 15 years so far and will be able to retire relatively comfortably when SSI bennies kick in.
I’m not one to gamble (aka, invest in the market), and I live within my means. I have a little credit card debt, but the mortgage is paid off and I have all the creature comforts I need to be happy.
Considering what so many people are going through these days I consider myself extremely fortunate, and am grateful.


Ilovepopcorn February 23, 2021 at 12:12 AM

I have been retired for 13 years! I retired early after putting in 33 years at UC Berkeley. I am fortunate that I saved money while working so I could pay cash for everything. Yes that means my place at Rossmoor, car, furniture etc. I also can save money while being retired! Live below your means. Cook at home and stay away from Starbucks! I have to live independently so for that reason, I know how to live on a shoestring. I also have an emergency fund. So all one needs is a plan. Also use your credit cards as a convenience. Pay them off in a month. My faith has helped me in my bad times too. I consider the good Lord has been my strength during this journey of retirement too.


Antler February 23, 2021 at 5:13 AM

Oh, YES!
A few of the best techniques (for us):
*Never put on a credit card more than you can pay in full every month.
*Every time you have extra money, use it to pay down the principal on your house mortgage.
*Eat out only on very special occasions…… which included when one of our children’s baseball, softball, or soccer teams won a season’s end trophy (also when any got straight A’s).
*Sew, crochet, etc. a lot of your clothing… beyond that, don’t fritter away funds on cheap clothing. Buy quality and then accessorize.
*Have sufficient medical, homeowner, and life insurance.

[I wish everyone could be so fortunate as we were/are and still have money left over to donate to favorite charities. It really seemed hard at first when we didn’t even buy soft drinks or beer and didn’t use a babysitter except for our anniversary night and for the Marine Corps Ball. But I’m thankful now.]


Well Folks February 23, 2021 at 8:31 AM

Antler – absolutely “YES” to the credit card advise. When I was younger I made it a personal policy to only charge what I could pay off next statement unless it was an emergency. “Emergencies” we car tires, major auto repairs or major vet bills. If one of those came up nothing else went on the card until those were paid off. Normally al of those could be paid off in 2-3 months.
I’m currently gathering items for a complete bath remodel. Order items with credit card and when Items are delivered and charges hit the account I transfer funds to pay for them. Small items I pick up at Lowes or another place are paid for with my trusty debit card. All of this is helping not stray from my budget.
I pretty much live on a cash (debit card) basis and the only debt I have is my mortgage and with property tax and insurance is less less for my 1,400 sq ft house than my mortgage, taxes and HOA fees were in Concord for an 1,100 sq ft townhouse.

Antler February 23, 2021 at 12:02 PM

Well Folks,
Sounds like a careful plan, and real estate is indeed a great investment for so many reasons.
Take care hiking in the snow up there!

Well Folks February 23, 2021 at 4:57 PM

Antler – What snow???? Had a bit of dust last Saturday that melted by 10am. Foothills are clear and brown. Could get a big dump sometime in March but not holding my breath

Caskydiver February 23, 2021 at 8:22 AM

Yes. Was able to retire at age 52 if I wanted simply because I started investing in my IRA and later in a 401k. Maxed out contributions for my earlier years and always lived below my means. Reaping the rewards now of my good decisions made in years past.


FPN February 23, 2021 at 2:03 PM

Never used credit cards, and have no debt. Both homes are paid for and start collecting retirement benefits next month. Better half still working and at this point not worried about not having enough money to retire.


WhoDat Gurl February 23, 2021 at 6:22 PM

1. Live WELL below your means
2. Drive a modest car until it’s no longer reliable
3. Find healthy and free things to do as a family (we hike)
4. Enjoy modest hobbies (okay, I fail at this one, as my hobby is fine wine)
5. Invest early and frequently, and follow your investments to be sure they’re performing well
6. Carefully consider where you live when you retire, as taxes in CA will eat you up
7. Pay off that mortgage
8. Maintain a fantastic Credit Score, so you can borrow money cheaply (if needed)

Most Important Thing I Learned From Our Financial Advisor:
You’ll need ~ $1,000,000 invested for every $50,000/ year you need in retirement. So, if we need $200,000/year for travel & expenses, we need $4,000,000 invested so we can take 4% out every year, and then leave money to our children, alma maters and charities that are important to us.

Good Luck everybody!


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