Last week while flipping the channels amidst the 8th winter storm of the season here in the Northeast, I happened across a news segment detailing how a pair of once exorbitantly paid professional football players, each commanding an annual salary that approached $10 million, are now broke.

I'm sure many of us have heard or read similar horror stories about how athletes or celebrities have squandered obscene amounts of money and are dangerously close to living in a refrigerator box under a bridge and grilling squirrel for dinner.

What made this episode even more incredible is that these players were counseled on several occasions and warned about the often-lethal mixture of being in your early 20s and a multimillionaire.

One even hired a financial advisor whose advice he chose to continually ignore and proceeded to collect mansions and luxury cars like some collect stamps or coins.

I'm still trying to get my arms around the astonishing fact that a modestly salaried editor has more put away for retirement than two former first round draft picks - combined.

Which brings me to the topic de jour - retirement.

According to the latest Bank of America's Merrill Lynch Affluent Insights Quarterly poll, the majority of Baby Boomers intend to have a more active lifestyle and a better standard of living than their parents.

Since my father lives in a secluded gated Southeastern community with six bucolic golf courses at his disposal, I don't know if I can make that bold a prediction.

I do have a fee-based financial planner to prepare me for that eventuality but considering my portfolio, I often joke that he accepted me as a client only to fulfill his quota of pro bono work.

In addition to their intentions of exceeding their parents' standard of living, nearly a third of those on the BOA-Merrill Lynch survey said they would continue to work to remain active while 26 percent plan to further their education.

Considering the past two years and its effect on the publishing industry, my not working past retirement age may not be an option.

But then again, editorial is not as physically demanding as for instance laying brick, operating a jackhammer, or playing in the NFL, so extending a career into your 70s would be somewhat easier.

By contrast, those unfortunate players cited above either failed to realize, or ignored the sobering fact, that the average career in the NFL is roughly three years.

A shredded ACL or multiple concussions often signal that said player would now have to seek employment elsewhere and in another field. Hey, good luck with finding another career that pays roughly $5 million a year for seven months' work without any formal training.

Both players cited the need for financial literacy programs for athletes to begin while in college and while I agree that it's never too early, I find it hard to believe that either would have absorbed the intricacies of prudent planning no matter when they were lectured.

Currently one of the former linemen lives on a small disability pension, while the other has returned to school to obtain a degree.

Perhaps it was a blessing I did not grow to 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds with a 4.6 time in the 40. It forced me to go in another direction.

Retirement for me is a scary proposition and I'm preparing for it the best way I know how. I don't know if I will exceed my parents in terms of comfort, but I won't get mail delivered to a refrigerator box either.

 

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