So, the 401k equivalent for non-profit workers is the 403b. Non-profit workers are typically paid a pittance for doing “god’s work” (I’m an atheist, so that why the quotes, but for real: non-profit staff bust their asses holding up the most vulnerable in our society in most cases. Like teachers and nurses, they should get the respect and the pay that is commensurate with their value. Off soapbox!). Many don’t even participate in their organization’s 403b plan because they are living on razor thin margins and don’t see the value in investing even $5 or $10 a paycheck. At my last agency (I was an exec), we grappled with whether to make our 403b an automatic enrollment plan from a person’s hire date as opposed to having staff opt-in, which typically lead to low enrollment. We instituted a matching contribution, and we didn’t want staff to lose out on that free money, but we weren’t sure if forcing enrollment was paternalistic (staff automatically enrolled could later opt-out if the chose to).

My whole point is it would be interesting and probably gut-wrenching to do a similar piece on what the median 403b account has in it at retirement age. So many of these staff truly can never retire. It’s heartbreaking.

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I love you were able to get this great Empower data! And how you perfectly explained the concept of median vs. average.

I'm a fan of Cuban so I'll just say, I think some mix of paternalism and "personal responsibility" is best. I did read in a separate article that among "millionaires next door," in the top five occupations were teachers, who have super powerful unions and excellent pensions. I forget the exact figure but in the same article, it also said a substantial percentage of these millionaires next door never made a 6-figure annual salary in their entire careers.

So this is leading me to believe, it's a blend of government policies plus good old fashioned living within one's means and having some financial literacy, that could have the best chance of succeeding.

P.S. TY for the school supplies especially the two ✏️✏️! I let my kid have one cuz she just loved the message printed on them and so do I (Not gonna spill what it says, so peeps have to be a paid subscriber to find out 😉)

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Let's see, your CEO is making billions, the shareholders are gambling with your money, the government is taxing you three ways from Sunday and literally printing inflation, but you worker aren't working hard enough and you're drinking too many lattes. Got it.

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I agree that our current system isn't working, and that "personal responsibility" is often used as an excuse, completely unjustified.

I would urge caution about more comprehensive pensions, though. NY City very nearly went bankrupt, and had to claw back a generation's worth of benefits and advances to survive. I'm not saying it's a bad idea, just that we have to be really, really mindful about how we avoid catastrophic unintended consequences.

Great stuff to think about! I'm glad you're writing about this.

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I'm going to respectfully push back here. Labor should be pushing first for the highest fixed contributions possible, and industry-leading matches second.

We talked about it before, but unions went "all in" on using pension funds as investment vehicles. They are completely beholden to these plans, and will cast off just about any article in a CBA (including scope) to keep them. Companies know this and continuously weaponize DB plans, holding them over workers heads like a sword of Damocles.

The idea of a "career" has changed over the last 20 years. We can talk about why that is separately, but the reality is, no one's staying in one spot for 20,30,40 years anymore. Even if they want to stay at the same company, they might want to move around between divisions. A DB plan handcuffs them. With a 401k, all that leverage goes back to the workers.

And for those that decide to move on to a new job? The money should go with them. That doesn;t happen with a pension.

For those that kickoff early (God forbid)? There shouldn't be a penalty for having your spouse/partner assume the plan's benefits, but that's exactly what happens.

Labor activists talk a lot about "worker empowerment" while advocating plans that have an opposite effect. We need to change that.

Source: Almost 30 years in aviation, with 2(!) frozen pensions and a 401k.

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