Friday, September 15, 2006

Will You Need to Settle for Silver in Your Golden Years?

I call my retirement fund a 41k. 401k seems wildly optimistic, especially when my fund manager says: “It’s perfectly normal for your portfolio to show a negative gain at this stage in the game. You have plenty of time for it to rebound.”

To this I wonder how big of an oxymoron he really is. Rebound is a very unsettling word when used in context with my hard-earned retirement money. I’ve already conceded to driving used cars for the better portion of my life, and who could possibly get tired of chicken legs and rice for dinner?

We all make sacrifices so we can retire some day, but if your monthly statement looks like mine, then the jagged undulations that resemble the lifecycle of Enron’s stock price have you a little worried. Am I supposed to know what a Multicap Value Equity 2 Index is?

Worse yet, Americans don’t save money anymore. In fact, we spend about 100.5 percent of our income, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis. The savings rate officially hit zero in August 2005, making Americans the worst savers of any industrialized nation.

That dubious distinction means our retirement accounts will see even more stress in the near future to fill the void once met by old-fashioned rainy-day funds. Nothing like tugging at the threads of an already paper-thin security blanket.

How about your budget? Do you feel stretched between current family requirements and the hope that you might retire some day? Tell us about your balancing act.

— David Frabotta, Senior Editor

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Your Hometown Could Use Your Help

For the second time in three years, Cleveland was named the poorest big city in the country by the U.S. Census. About 32 percent of Cleveland residents live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census. Cleveland, by the way, is the home of Golfdom magazine.

When the news was reported, I felt a sick feeling in my stomach, much like I did two years ago when we learned our city's fate. Cleveland, like many Midwestern cities, has suffered economically because so many manufacturing jobs have been outsourced to cheaper labor overseas. What’s left is a lot of out-of-work people. And things just seem to get worse from there.

Of course, this problem has much to do about attitudes — poor people and rich people included. All of us, however, need to unite and attack poverty at its roots. It’s not about a quick fix.

That said, there are people in Cleveland and other cities — including your hometown — who need help now. They need food, clothing and shelter. Many of these people are children.

Two years ago, when Cleveland received the dubious honor of having the poorest population for the first time, I wrote a column in the Golfdom pages discussing how golf courses can help the poor. I’m not one for self promotion, but I’d like to share the column with you again. Please click here for “Some Ways We Can Help the Poor".

— Larry Aylward, Editor in Chief