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Chapter 4. No Plan Is an Island

It seems like such a long time ago when working for a company was, in many respects, for life. My father is 80, and he spent 30 years working for one company. I'll be 50 within a year, and I had five jobs before I was 35. Nevertheless, when my father was working, it was typical for corporations to provide workers with a pension benefit that could provide 50–100 percent of their final year's salary as a retirement benefit for the rest of their life. On the surface, that sounds fine and certainly is a good start, but with inflation chipping away at your income like an ice pick on a glacier, your buying power on a fixed pension has the potential to be eroded quickly. As I mentioned in the previous chapter, my father's pension is now covering only 10 percent of his retirement income needs whereas 20 years ago it was covering close to 50 percent of his income needs. Even in Japan, where the “work-for-life” culture has been the strongest, people can't count on retiring with the company they may have worked at for dozens of years.


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