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Featured Article

Nov 18, 2015

Are you excited or afraid of Retirement? (And who invented Retirement?)


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Last Monday I gave a talk to eligible retirees of the largest retail company in the country. Honestly, I was a bit uncertain about the enthusiasm I would get from this audience. It was the first day of the APEC week and as Jeffrey Chua, their AVP for Training said, some of them including Chiqui, their Training Manager who put this event together, was “APEC-tado”smiley-163510_640travelling more than double the usual amount of time due to re-routing. I also left home very early to make sure I won’t be late and I ended up being there almost two hours ahead of my talk schedule. I wanted to have a feel of the audience’s sentiment on an upcoming milestone in their life called retirement. Fortunately, I found them to be among my most enthusiastic audience.

 

History of Retirement:

In order to put things in perspective I gave them the history of retirement. Back in the day there was no such thing as retirement. You work to sustain yourself and your dependents until you die, or until you no longer can. In fact, in the very early days, there were no “old” people. People died of natural causes when they were still in their twenties. The very few who lived to see their wrinkles were worshipped and were probably those who ended up telling stories of the past and somewhat predicted what could happen in the future based on their experiences. They probably became the world’s first soothsayers.

 

The person who invented retirement was Otto Von Bismark, a conservative Prussian statesman who dominated the German and European affairs from the 1860s to 1890.

1
Otto von Bismarck, the inventor of Retirement

 

Among his famous quotes are the following:

“People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war and before election.”

“Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.”

“When you say you agree to a thing in principle, you mean that you have not the slightest intention of carrying it out in practice.”

“The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood.”

“Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war.”

“Politics is not an exact science. It is the art of the next best.”

From the above quotes, we can surmise that he was a great politician of his time. And true enough, he invented Retirement in 1883 as a political move. It was in response to a threat from the Marxists. In order to keep his people from being lured to Marxism, a relatively new ideology at that time originated by a fellow German Karl Marx, Bismark announced that he would pay pension to any nonworking German over the age of 65. Of course, he was brilliant in the sense that at that time, hardly anyone lived up to age 65! Penicillin had not been invented as Alexander Fleming, the inventor, was only two years old then.

All around the world, as the older workers showed less productivity in their jobs, it became a good idea to encourage them to leave their jobs to make way for the younger generation.

 

In 1935 US President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the Social Security Act.

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US President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Social Security Law in 1935.

 

This act guaranteed the income of the unemployed and the retirees. This law has remained relatively unchanged to this day.

In the Philippines it was President Manuel Acuna Roxas who proposed the Social Security bill in Congress during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in 1948.

3
Philippine President Manuel Acuna Roxas proposes the SSS Bill in 1948

 

After years of delay due to objections and amendments, it was only in 1957 when the SSS Law was finally implemented for the benefit of the private sector and self-employed workers.

The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) was created earlier, in 1936, to provide social security services for government employees. It was later amended in 1997 to upgrade the benefits structure.

 

LIFE EXPECTANCY:

It should be noted that in the 1800s when Otto Von Bismark invented retirement and almost arbitrarily used 65 as the retirement age, the average lifespan was only in the 40s. In 1935 when the Social Security was implemented in the US the average lifespan was 58 for males and 62 for females. Today this has increased to 76.4 in males and 81.2 in females, and going higher.

This is an alarming data that should really make us do something with our under-funded SSS and GSIS. For the meantime, we should really be doing something in our personal capacity, setting aside retirement money for our twilight years.

I usually hear people in their midlife say that they won’t live as long as their parents because they live less healthy lives. Though they are right about their unhealthy habits, there is the counterpart advancement in medical technology. The sad news is, if we don’t take care of our health now, our longer years may prove to be very costly if they would be spent in hospital confinements with a lot of medications.

 If you want to find out what your estimated life span is without feeling morbid about it, go to Life Expectancy Calculator. I got mine at 85.6 years but you see my parents are now 87.3 and 85.7 so I guess I have to prepare for a longer one in terms of retirement money. As they say in Ilocano, “Napaot ‘ti biag ti Ilocano!” (Ilocanos live long!)

 To find out more about how much money you should have when you retire, please revisit my article in answer to a reader’s question How much retirement money do I need?

 

The Vacation Images of Retirement are Over-rated:

The images of very relaxing retirement years such as this one below are usually overrated.

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The typical image of retirement

 

I know that this is great dream to work hard for but I don’t think anyone would love to do this day in and day out for decades. Seriously, I think one would yearn to do something else. Midlife is a time for self-assessment and the urge to do something to help others and to have a positive legacy is strongest during this time. Day in and day out by the beach doing nothing that gives value to others may prove to be “tiring” at some point. One needs to be relevant. And one needs to have a PURPOSE in life. And that is why I ended my talk last Monday with a reminder to the retirees to use my life compass, a paraphrase from philosopher theologian Frederick Beuchner’s “God calls us to a place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep hunger.”

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My paraphrase of a Frederick Beuchner quote which now serves as my life compass.

 

What is that one thing that you really love to do? What are you really good at? Find out what that is and try to fill in someone else’s need by doing that. Chances are that’s where God calls you to. That is your sweet spot, the point where you will be most successful. And by the way, there is no need to postpone the relaxation and the good times depicted in the above photo that we only associate with retirement. Have bits and pieces of happy times that you can afford now with your loved ones while you’re young, while you still have your children with you.

I was happy that the participants seemed to have gotten the point that really retirement may be a bit fearful because of the uncertainties that go with it, but it is a milestone to look forward to because as we all shouted at the end of the session, “The best is yet to come!”

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The Batch 1 of Retirees Talk shouting, “The best is yet to come!”

 

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ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

  1. I will speak at the Knowledge Community, Inc. on How to Raise and Nurture Children to have High FQ on November 19, 2015 at the Crown Plaza Hotel.
  2. I will speak at the SM Retail, Inc.’s Early Retirement Program part 2 on November 26, 2015 at 10am. This will be at the Building A Auditorium of SM Corporate Offices, Pasay City.
  3. I will speak at the 6th PANA (Philippine Association of National Advertisers) Foundation IMC Youth Congress on November 27, 2015 at the Philippine Trade Training Center, Sen. Gil Puyat Ave. cor. Roxas Blvd., Pasay City.

 

Rose Fres Fausto is the author of bestselling books Raising Pinoy Boys and The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon (English and Filipino versions). Click this link to read samples - Books of FQ Mom Rose Fres Fausto. She is the grand prize winner of the first Sinag Financial Literacy Digital Journalism Awards. Follow her on Twitter &Instagram as theFQMom, and Facebook and You Tube as FQ Mom.

 

ATTRIBUTIONS: Photos from pensionriskmatters.com, Wikipedia, jfbleverage.com, happyretireescom, Retirement data from History.com, ssa.gov, Wikipedia, brainyquotes.com, usatoday.com .

This article is also published in PhilStar.com and RaisingPinoyBoys.com.

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