Reality Check for Firefighter Parents... They do eventually grow up...
From your friend, Captain Busy...
Hello fellow adult firefighter's out there. This post is not intended for Junior firefighter's, and in fact, there is no way they can post a response here because in order to answer the question or, post an opinion, one has to have gone through the process of raising someone who just might be calling themselves a junior... I mention that because like many here on the FFN, I'm pretty tired of the word games, rhymes, helmet colors, pager types, fire engine colors or any other nonsensical post that folks dream up, just because. This is reality, real life and responsibility... What a concept in today's world, putting someone else ahead of yourself, so I share...
Our middle daughter moved out of the house, getting her first job working in the field of hazardous materials (what a surprise for those that know me) cleanup and mitigation consulting. Like most parents, when asked by your kids what they should do when they focus on a subject matter, I have always said to follow the job market and see where you can benefit most from a college education.
In my opinion, there are two wide open job market careers that can lead to enough income to be able to buy a home, and raise a family, in times like these. For now, 2010/2010, my call is either the medical field or environmental. Two of our daughters are doing the nursing school gig and the other just graduated with a degree in environmental science. She is the one who just got the EHS job that pays over 50k annually to start. Not bad for someone 22 years old. Funny thing though is that this is where the money is. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure that one out.
So what's the question? When your child asks your advise as to how they should prepare for retirement, and knowing that they are not going to be a firefighter with the afforded benefits and retirement, what do you advise them to do in order to be prepared in the future?
Here's my answer:
"You should maximize your savings as a number one priority. Committing to saving even a small amount, but consistently will yield long term results and significant benefits, such as having a down payment for buying your first home. You should have the goal of saving a minimum of 15% of your income or more each year. Think of it as paying yourself first, then others... Set your 401(k) contributions to the highest level you can handle. At least contribute up to whatever your company can match, and ideally push the limits, which is $16,500 for now because you are under 50 years of age."
Note: Thank you reference sources such as the Wall Street Journal, and other online resources to help dad's like me figure out how to answer these types of questions.