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Retirement: Toast It and Close the Gap

In schools across the country, there are countless teachers working through their lunch breaks trying to keep up with the demands of the day. But what many don’t know is that in the time it takes to eat lunch, they could conduct a retirement savings review with a financial professional.

Here’s a repeating story of a financial professional trying to encourage a teacher to talk about retirement planning:

Financial Professional: What did you have for lunch?

Teacher: Tuna sandwich.

Financial Professional: Toasted or untoasted?

Teacher: Toasted.

Financial Professional: How long did it take you to eat it?

Teacher: About 8 minutes.

Financial Professional: How long did you spend reviewing your retirement plan’s recent quarterly statement?

Teacher: About 2 minutes.

Financial Professional: I can help with that. Next time, I’ll spring for the tuna sandwich and we’ll sit for at least 8 minutes to start looking at your retirement income strategy together.

For many, talking about retirement can seem as boring as a tuna sandwich. But if anyone appreciates the burning need to tackle retirement savings, it’s a teacher.

The Retirement Income Gap

When 55% of educators surveyed by National Life Group say they don’t believe they’ll have a secure retirement, that’s certainly motivating. If a looming income gap doesn’t excite someone enough to jump-start a saving regimen, how about the fact that there are at least 663 documented supercentenarians (living and not).* Point is, lifespans are up. Not only do teachers need to close the income gap, they’re going to need their retirement money for a much longer ride than their parents and grandparents did.

A Touch of Class

As teachers shape our children’s hearts and minds, they also thankfully protect them with constant reminders to always be aware of their surroundings. Retirement planning is of the same ilk.  It’s a form of self-protection that begins by being aware of what life could throw at you.  Be attentive, make the right choices, and you will be ok. Awareness is empowering.

The teacher retirement gap isn’t necessarily because they can’t save enough. In fact, putting away a few dollars each paycheck usually turns out very doable, provided questions about the why, how and where to get started are answered. Plus, considering how much harder it gets the longer one waits, now is the time to toast that bread.

Education is Empowering

Teachers love to impart knowledge, but they also crave to learn. Over half of educators said they spend their summer off-months doing professional development, far more than those who traveled (13%) or held down part-time jobs (5%), according to National Life’ survey. Could this enthusiasm spill over to include a retirement planning class at a community college? If not, maybe some convenient online tools could be more helpful.

Work to Close the Retirement Income Gap

Whatever your preference, it’s important to speak with an expert who is officially approved by your school district to visit the campus. Perhaps the financial professional will treat you to a lunch-and-learn. After all, exploring financial options within an employer-sponsored plan is harder on an empty stomach. Full transparency: the discussion may not be more exciting than a toasted tuna sandwich, but, in its own way, it will surely be as satisfying and nutritious.


*Supercentenarians are those who crossed their 110th birthday. Source: Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, 2010.