Research Roundup

What, Me Worry?

‘You can’t wring your hands and roll up your sleeves at the same time.’

September 10, 2012

The last few days have plagued me with various calamities.  I am starting to get paranoid.

The lawn mower was low on oil, so I “remedied” that and completed the mowing chore in a cloud of smoke.  The latch on my sliding door malfunctioned after I merely touched it.  A wall light fixture I had removed left wires spewing sparks after I accidentally flipped the switch to “on.”

My garage door opener?   Corroded wiring.

My defiant dog “initiated” my carpet shortly after it was steam cleaned; behavior not typically in his repertoire.  Why now?

On top of all that, the milk had spoiled and I ran short of butter while baking.  A table I was assembling had a manufacturer defect; the screws did not fit the drilled holes.

Dare I stir from my chair?  What next?  Potential trauma is worrisome.

But then, in the words of Pat Schroeder, “You can’t wring your hands and roll up your sleeves at the same time.”

Worrying is a waste of energy.   Instead, we must anticipate potential problems, prudently prepare for them, and do our best dealing with situations if they occur.

September is National Preparedness Month and Agility Recovery is offering free webinars to help.  Is your credit union ready to deal with a potential disaster?

Learn how to prepare employees, use social media in a crisis, discover 10 steps for preparation, and learn from the experiences of others as you plan ahead with this informative series.

Retirement ruminations

“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened,” said Mark Twain.  Perhaps he was adept at retirement planning.

Many “Retirees Underestimate Life Expectancy, Risk Underfunding Pension Retirement” claims the Society of Actuaries:

“More than half of retirees and pre-retirees underestimate the age to which a person of his or her age and gender can expect to live, which can have significant implications on retirement planning,” and “Despite the misconception surrounding personal life expectancy, most retirees (64 percent) and pre-retirees (72 percent) say they would be very or somewhat likely to reduce their expenditures significantly if they were to live five years longer than expected.”

Meanwhile, “Hard Labor Spells Earlier Retirement.” Here, “Men with the most physically demanding jobs retire earlier…increasing the financial pressures facing this segment of the workforce once they reach old age.”

Workers transitioning into more sedentary jobs can retire later, and “implications for policies that would increase the eligibility ages for Social Security” are important.

Perhaps related to such policy issues, see “Correcting Labor Supply Projections for Older Workers Could Help Social Security and Economic Reform” by the Urban Institute. 

It states “employers will increasingly turn to older workers…Increased labor force participation among older workers can add to the solvency of Social Security and the broader federal budget.  Policymakers in both the public and private sectors can accommodate this trend by removing barriers that discourage hiring and retaining older workers.”

More worries are revealed in “2010 SCF (Survey of Consumer Finances) Suggests Even Greater Retirement Risks.” Here you’ll find that “the wealth to income ratio…is a good way to gauge…retirement preparedness” and that from 1983-2007 ratios remained stable, which is problematic due to longer life expectancy, 401(k) plan shifts, rising health care expenses, and lower real interest rates.”

Bigger woes:  In 2010, these ratios dropped significantly.

With regard to retiree health-care pressures, see “Out-of-Pocket Medicare Costs Bite Deep.”  “The bite taken out of Social Security checks to pay Medicare premiums and co-payments for doctor visits has more than doubled, from just 7 percent of benefits in 1980 to 15.5 percent currently.”

These costs are expected to “increase to about 18 percent of Social Security benefits over the next decade…”

Should your interest be piqued on the Medicare issue, investigate “Top Ten Myths of Medicare.”  A few of the myths debunked are that medicare:

  • Will pay for long-term care costs;
  • Will be spared from the budget axe;
  • Isn't as efficient as private insurance; and
  • Will fail due to peoples' ncreased longevity.

Can you help dispel retirement worries for your members, or better prepare them to avert financial disaster in their senior years?

Carefree youth?

An anonymous author noted, “Blessed is the person who is too busy to worry in the daytime and too sleepy to worry at night.”  Perhaps this sentiment can be applied to today’s younger set as we examine their situations.

In the annual Beloit College “Mindset List” we get an entertaining glimpse at the unique perspectives and experiences of those entering the college class of 2016.  Among the interesting realities that bear consideration, perhaps, in providing services to this cohort:

  • They are very comfortable in cyberspace;
  • Women have always piloted war planes and space shuttles;
  • Television shows are not actually watched on TV; and
  • Gene therapy has always been an available treatment.

How might the expectations of this group affect the financial products they need and methods for service delivery, and how has pop culture shaped their perspectives?  How do you market to them?

Parents look out for their vulnerable youngsters, and help is available as “FTC Advises Parents How to Protect Kids’ Personal Information at School.”  Often, personal information is requested on school forms, health paperwork, and emergency contact sheets that could lead to fraud.

The Federal Trade Commission here provides two reports to assist parents in preventing identity theft, “Protecting Your Child’s Personal Information at School” and “Safeguarding Your Child’s Future.” 

It might be a good thing to experience the pangs of worry that lead us to prepare in advance.  We need to be at the ready.  Avoidance is not the solution.

As English former footballer Steve Bull said, “Nerves and butterflies are fine—they’re a physical sign that you’re mentally ready and eager.  You have to get the butterflies to fly in formation, that’s the trick.”

LORA BRAY is a research librarian in CUNA's business-to-business publishing department.