retirement
Reader reflections: Retirement visions

 Outsourcing sparks bitterness
I have no retirement strategy, having already been forced to retire (early). Of course, being female, even though I've worked all my life, I retired on much less than I would have if I had been, say, male.

Thanks to Ronald Reagan and every Republican administration since, I am now spending my savings just to stay alive and have a roof over my head (though I suspect I will be living in my car by the end of the year). I have never been able to actually afford a house of my own and I am not a person who would take out a loan I knew I would not be able to repay.

After losing my lifelong job because most of the work went overseas, I went back to school and learned a new profession. Alas, less than two years later, that job also went to India. Now I have an $8,000 student loan and no way to pay it back. Is the government going to bail me out? I guess not. They reserve those tax-dollar actions for big business.

Am I bitter? You bet!

Cheryl Fontaine
Lake Stevens, Wash.

 Saving early and often
I'm looking forward to caviar, I think.

I'd like to call it "hot fudge sundaes" instead, though -- I don't much like the idea of fish eggs.

The company I work for started a 401(k) plan eight months after I started working there. That was 20 years ago, when I was 23. I have been putting in what I was able to all of these years. Fortunately, "what I was able to" has risen over the years. I am currently putting 22 percent of my income in per year because I am trying to make up for my husband's lack of a company-sponsored 401(k) plan.

I became excited about the idea of saving for my retirement back when I was 23 and haven't stopped since.

Lately, I've been feeling like I need someone to tell me for sure if I'm saving enough though.

I'm also trying to help my niece (who I just helped put through college) the importance of starting now, while she's young. My graduation gift to her is a Roth IRA!

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Joanne F. DeWald
Riverside, N.J.

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