I entertain you, will you save for retirement?|
"Anyway, Charlie's had a hard
life. He was white-collar, moved from one job to another all his
life. Seemed to get a job and then downsized right out of it. Over
and over. Even so, he managed to save up $100,000 in retirement
money. That's a big chunk a change, if you ask me.
"When he was 55, Charlie decided to invest it
into his new brainstorm. Seems he got an idea for a barricade. Expected to go
head-to-head against Bob. You know what I'm talking about -- Bob's Barricades
-- those roadside contraptions you see lined up on construction sites with the
monstrous orange eyes? Like a row of Cyclops. They've been the same for flippin'
decades. Charlie wanted to change them into something more creative. So he came
up with a new design with more colors, more movement. Innovative, he called it.
Avant-garde. A regular roadside Picasso.
"He filed for
a patent and then test-marketed some prototypes. They confused drivers. Caused
accidents. Charlie never got over it. His partners told him the business he went
up against had high barriers to entry. Well, I guess it did! They pulled out.
He lost everything.
"Now, he's got nothing but this cardboard
box at the viaduct under I-595. Mine's next door. We been pals for years. He rigged
up a security system using two of Bob's barricades; strung them up with tin cans
around his box. Don't get much wind under here, so it works pretty good. He'd
know it fast if someone came snooping around.
Charlie and I take our posts on the off-ramp of Nob Hill Road. I call it 'Snob
Hill.' But it's a lucrative location. We got our signs. We get the occasional
sawbuck, but mostly just ones. Only problem is, there's lots of competition. Always
have to fend off the newcomers who try to weasel into our territory!
I never really saved much money in those flippin' retirement plans. Worked mostly
retail where they weren't offered. And when I had the chance, I blew it, to tell
the truth. I think I saved up 15 grand once and then, when I quit, took the money
out and bought a used Mustang.
"That dang 'stang was
cool. Only lasted me a few years though. Got into a crash.
"Would I do things differently? Heck yeah. I
would've gotten into the panhandling business in my 40s. Hey, it's
tax-free income. This ain't so bad. I get enough to get by. But
if I'd started earlier and invested my cash, by now, I could a been
hope I've entertained you. NOW will you start saving for retirement?
Longtime financial journalist Barbara Mlotek Whelehan
earned a certificate of specialization in financial planning. If
you have a comment or suggestion about this column, write to Boomer