Does school prepare children for the real world? “Study hard and get good grades and you will find a high-paying job with great benefits,” my parents used to say. Their goal in life was to provide a college education for my older sister and me, so that we would have the greatest chance for success in life.
When T finally earned my diploma in 1976-graduating with honors, and near the top of my class, in accounting from Florida State University-my parents had realized their goal. It was the crowning achievement of their lives. In accordance with the “Master Plan,” I was hired by a “Big 8” accounting firm, and I looked forward to a long career and retirement at an early age.
My husband, Michael, followed a similar path. We both came from hardworking families, of modest means but with strong work ethics. Michael also graduated with honors, but he did it twice: first as an engineer and then from law school. He was quickly recruited by a prestigious Washington, D.C., law firm that specialized in patent law, and his future seemed bright, career path well defined and early retirement guaranteed.
Although we have been successful in our careers, they have not turned out quite as we expected. We both have changed positions several times-for all the right reasons-but there are no pension plans vesting on our behalf. Our retirement funds are growing only through our individual contributions.