On December 4th, 2013 you gave a speech on economic mobility. I felt like you were speaking directly to me and others who are in my situation. I am a very average American who considers himself lucky to have been born here, and immensely proud of our our country and the direction you are taking us. I have also come to the realization that I will not be able to retire at 65 as was the dream, and that since I already live on a fixed income at a job I love, that I decided to retire early, and keep working through my retirement so I can enjoy every moment of every day like a retired person does. I am writing this article so you can get a better idea of how you can help me, or more accurately, how you can help my child and future generations, as I don't think there is anything you can do to help me specifically... outside of petitioning my company to recognize me for what I am, not for what degrees I don't possess.
You hooked me in when you were talking (Reference the Presidents Speech) about how our "frustration is rooted in our own daily battles - to make ends meet, to pay for college, buy a home and save for retirement." While I earn a nice living with the major computer company that I teach for, my wife works on-and-off in catering, and we still can't seem to make ends meet. We live in a modest condo in a nice suburb of Chicago, we have a 15 year old son who wants to go to college to be a pilot and we dare not dream of buying even a modest house, as we barely qualified to refinance our condo to keep from going under last year.
To make ends meet and to pay for college... There is a balance between enjoying life and affording life. We try to scrimp and save on essentials, but the base cost of living exceeds our actual income by about 10%. I'm working on getting some side work to fill the income gap, but that means I'll spend even more time away from my family. Tax cuts are great for rich people, but for the average joe, they don't amount to much. For instance, I don't notice when I get an extra couple of bucks a month back because of a tax reduction. So I don't think there is much help you can offer there. For my child, and for the future of our country, we need to stay on track with pre-k programs, enhancing public education and making higher education more affordable and accessible and simultaneously cultivating industries in America that require the intellectual and physical skills of the kids who succeed in our schools. I'm stuck in my giant company where I am, primarily because I lack a degree from an institution of higher education. There are so many of us who have so much to offer, but because we couldn't afford a college degree, we skipped it and went into the workforce. The government already runs the public school system, why not extend that to include higher education? Make college degrees available to lower and middle income families, and make it possible for middle-aged people like myself to pursue a college degree, to restore the hope of a well-paid future to millions of Americans!
To buy a house... We have a condo in a nice suburban neighborhood. We dream of a house with a backyard for our dog, and plenty of room to move around, but that is a pipe dream. We can barely afford the condo we in, and we can't sell it until we are no longer upside down on the mortgage. Even if we could, the most we could qualify for is 20% more than we have, for which there are zero houses available in our town at that price. For the future, we need to get a handle on the banks that put our mortgage system into jeopardy, we need to prosecute people for their crimes against America, and ensure that it doesn't happen again. We need to make home ownership into a reality for my son, I just don't see it for me.
To save for retirement... The way things are headed, I can't see a scenario outside of winning the lottery that would allow me to stop working and 'enjoy my retirement.' With a modest condo we can barely afford, to make ends meet as it is, and in three years, our son goes to college. With all the loans required for college, we will up to our ears in debt for the next 20 years. Which puts me at 67 years old. The American dream is dead for me. I will need too continue working until the day I die because my income is stagnant and inflation is rampant. Saving for retirement is not an option, because anything earmarked for retirement will be immediately usurped by the day to day needs of life, and my son's college education.
The reality is, I'll be working until the day I die. Which is why I started my 'Early Working Retirement' a few years ago. I have come to the realization that I'll always be working to make the ends meet, because I have spent the last 25 years trying to accumulate wealth and have nothing to show for it. I am ashamed that there are many others like me, but I'd be even more ashamed if we did nothing to make sure that we are the last generation to suffer this reality. Lets make early childhood education, and a college degree a requirement of education, and ensure that there are good jobs to be had, to make the dream of home ownership a reality for our children, and to save for retirement so future generations won't have to work until they die just to make ends meet!
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