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Why schools should teach our youth retirement planning

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I was having dinner with a friend last night — a divorced mother of three grown sons. She has a good job working for Larimer County in Colorado. I asked her what she was invested in for her retirement planning.

She only had one answer: her employer’s 401(k). No IRA, no equity or fixed income investments, no annuities.

This didn’t come as a shock, of course. Sadly, the nation’s workers are vastly underprepared for retirement as they harrowingly underestimate their financial needs during that time. According to the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS), the U.S. retirement savings deficit is between $6.8 and $14 trillion.


The NIRS also claims that based on 401(k)–type account and IRA balances alone, some 92 percent of working households do not meet conservative retirement savings targets for their age and income. I honestly believe this massive inadequacy in planning for the future can be blamed on one thing: lack of education. Why are students still learning about the Pythagorean theorem in school, but not how to file taxes or how much money is actually needed to prepare for retirement? Why is it necessary to teach high schoolers Avogadro’s number, but not the basics of Social Security benefits and IRAs? It’s maddening.

This month we celebrate National Annuity Awareness Month. This is a time when agents and advisors can work to educate clients young and old about the benefits of annuities when it comes to retirement planning. It will be a long time before retirement planning is a mandatory course in high school. Until then, it’s up to us.

Keep up the good work.