Tonight is dark and stormy, with nearly a full moon. I stepped outside to check the mailbox, and found a single envelope inside. It was from the government.
Do I dare open it?
Why sure. It’s only my annual Social Security Statement. At least it’s not from the IRS (really scary stuff from that brood of demons).
So how is something from the Social Security Administration scary? Keep reading…but you may want to sit down.
I’m 35 years old. Looking at the statement, it summarizes my income since I started earning money and filing a tax return (a whopping $713 dollars in 1991!). I’ve been blessed since those intermittent high school summer jobs to earn a great living doing work I enjoy, so the numbers for 2008 (the last year on the statement) are much, much higher. A real pat yourself on the back and thank God moment.
Below that section is the scary part. Scary mad that is. The statement summarizes the estimated taxes paid into Social Security over my working career. My portion is more than $50,000! My employer’s portion is the same (and I’ve always considered that a portion of my income I just don’t get to handle, since it would be mine if the government didn’t force it from my employers hands). All told, more than $100,000 dollars paid into Social Security so far.
It sure would be nice to have that money in my Roth IRA instead of being pilfered by the government. You see, if I could have that money today, and invest it at 12%, in just 20 years, it would be worth more than $1 Million Dollars! I’d be a 55 year old millionaire, and never have to invest another penny beyond today!
But there’s a problem. Even if the old SSA could give me a return like that, at 55 years old, I wouldn’t be eligible to get my money. In fact, if I die before I’m eligible to start collecting Social Security, my family doesn’t get to keep the money. The government does! If it were in my Roth IRA or 401K–or even my sock drawer–my family gets the money. Did you digest that? Read it again!
Scared now? Or just angry?
It gets worse…
Considering the horrible state of affairs with the old Social Security funds, I likely won’t be eligible to collect until I’m about 75 years old. Again, if I could have the money in lump sum today and invest it myself, earning 12%, I’d have more than $11 MILLION DOLLARS!!!
More like BOO-HOO!
I cannot trust that Social Security will even exist when I’m able to retire. And unless you’re already collecting, you probably can’t trust on it either. You have to make your own retirement happen.
Get out of debt, build an emergency fund of 3-6 month of expenses, and then invest 15% for retirement.
Only you can make yourself a millionaire in your retirement years. But you have to start soon. Time and compounding interest are your best friend or worse enemy, depending on when you start.
How much do I wish I could opt out of Social Security? I’d be willing to forfeit the $100,000 I’ve already paid in, if I simply didn’t have to pay another dime into the program. Then I could invest my 6.2%, plus my employer’s 6.2%…and build my own wealth.
Remember this next Halloween. It’ll only be a few days before Election Day!