Time for a little name-dropping. I went to school with Bill Cosby. We're both Philadelphians. Nope, it wasn't just that we went to the same school. We were in class together. He played football and I played foos-ball. And, we always got together at class reunions.
In any event, I bring this up because this week on "Nick-at-Nite," the cable channel running old sit-coms in the evening, The Cosby Show is having its marathon run as a prelude to it being included in the regular nightly lineup.
Now, it was around the second or third week after the show started in 1984 that financial planning came into play. This was the episode where Bill's 15-year old son, Theo, had decided he would finish high school but would not go on to college.
"I just want to be regular people," he proclaimed. "Not like you, a doctor, or Mom a lawyer."
"Aha!" exclaimed Bill. "Regular people like…….?"
"A bus driver."
Bill's eyebrow's shot up. "Can you live on a bus driver's salary knowing your rather expensive tastes?"
He took some monopoly money and doled out eight 100 bills to Theo, apparently what the bus driver's monthly salary would be (remember the year is 1984). Theo was delighted.
Now, slowly but surely, Bill picked apart that $800 with the cost of an apartment, utilities, clothes, entertainment, etc. The two went back and forth, Theo desperately trying to keep a lid on expenses and Bill playing the practical father. When it was all over, Theo was left holding air.
"Okay," the prodigal son smiled. "I can live with this. I'll just drive extra hours and earn overtime."
"Aha!" shouted the proud parent. "And you haven't even eaten yet."
Theo's world was decimated.
I bring this up because financial planners tell me that adults today also have unreasonable expectations of what they can and cannot do especially when it comes to any thought of retirement. Many planners say they have to work backwards the same way Bill did with his TV-offspring.
Well, consider this. According to a just-released, first-ever Cost of Leisure Index survey for baby boomers compiled by AllState Financial, respondents say they will need some $40,900 per year in retirement to cover their identified activities (traveling, hobbies, golfing, etc.) and basic living expenses. To have that, the average boomer will require more than $1.2 million at the beginning of a 20-year retirement, factoring in a return on savings and inflation.
However, those surveyed had, on average, less than $120,000 in assets. Interestingly enough, while boomers were pretty good in estimating the costs for their favorite activities, they were still not saving enough money to actually enjoy what they said they wanted to do during retirement.
Hey, Dr. Huxtable, can you help here?
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