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Life Without Pension --Let the Family Circle Begin

"Americans can no longer count on pension" was the November 23, 2005 Nightly News headline on the topic of the disappearing pension. Medical benefits for retirees are also vanishing.

Petrifying, unthinkable and who knew it could happen in our lifetime? You feel betrayed by what you don?t know. You feel vulnerable, frustrated and angry. This is a loss of part of your present if you are retired. A loss of the future if you are still in the workforce.

But, remember, like with any other change initiated and perpetuated by forces beyond your control, you must focus and act on what you can control. Your attitude and what you can do for your retirement, now that life will never be the same, are two parameters within your control.

The loss of pension is not new. People have seen their pension disappear as organization are relegated to oblivion by man made change or natural disasters. What is new and most disturbing is that companies with promising financial status are reducing or removing pensions.

Scott Cohn, NBC?s Nightly News reporter sated that, "Not only are companies in troubled industries like airlines cutting their employees' pensions; now healthy companies are finding ways out of their pension promises, too?Whatever the reason, across America, a decades-old bond between employer and employee is now strained to the breaking point."

Over the last twenty or so years, employees have come to grips with a simple fact. The top benefit from employment is ability to be employed. A job provides you the opportunity to hone your skills, knowledge and abilities so that you can be employable. We are now beaten for a job in our hometown by a candidate in another continent--the job is done by phone or on the Internet.

Re-training has become a routine process for jobs that didn?t exit just a few years ago. Of course many people, not willing to put up with the unpredictable chaos in the workplace have opted to try entrepreneurship.

The new trend, pacing out pension plans for current and future retirees in corporate America (the public sector may start this practice, too) presents millions with unfathomable challenge. This is happening with the uncertain future of social security becoming foggier and foggier.

Maybe this calls for us to invest in family--you invest in your children?s future and they take care of you in your sunset days. In many nations, pension is either rare or unknown. No government funded retirement programs or nursing homes. To make matters worse, no health insurance for millions of people in those countries.

In those countries, however, a key cultural practice is that parents invest in their children who are raised with full knowledge that it is their responsibility, a much cherished practice, to complete the circle of life--take care of parents and grandparents.

This, however, calls for adjustments in some practices. We refrain from the assumption that all 18-year old are mature enough to cater for themselves. Family members need to always belong and be part of each other?s lives. In general, people remain closely attached to those relationships whose cords have not been broken. Those we care for in their most vulnerable period of life are more likely to care for us intimately in our most vulnerable days.

The other adjustment is not new. Each individual must learn to be the CEO of their own life. Hundreds of thousands believe, even expect, a system or other people to provide for their needs and wants. As the absence of pension adds a new dimension, the best you can do for yourself is to not be a burden to any entity.

Think smart and act now--develop other sources of income. Financial experts advise is that you invest in your employer?s 401(K) program.

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