Only one problem. Currently only 33% of medium to large sized employers currently provide benefits for retirees and this percentage is declining (it was 84% in 1980). Even generous companies are moving away from future benefits, preferring instead to help employees fund 401k programs or other similar programs that the employee controls. I applaud this trend for many reasons (for example, if your company goes bankrupt, it will not impact your 401k unless you only invested in your own company).
However, I am concerned about the number of people who are expecting retirement benefits from their firm when their firm does NOT provide these benefits. Unless the EBRI did a poor job in their research and surveyed a very unrepresentative group, there are going to be many surprised people as they near retirement.
I took a few minutes to look around the EBRI site. Some very interesting trivia there, useful for people like me who love reading statistics about people.
You can call an automated service at (877) 322-8228 and ask for your report. Be careful, the voicemail system gives the appearance of hoping you’ll select the wrong option so they can hang up on you. But if you listen carefully, it only takes a few minutes to navigate the maze and make your request. The last part is the trickiest. Once you ask for a report from one company (there are three major players in the US and it is important to check all three reports), stay on the line and keep asking for more reports until you have requested all three.
You can also request instant access online, but I would not do this unless you are in a hurry. I still like printed records when the subject is important given how easy it is to modify an electronic document. By calling via the toll free number, you ensure that you will be mailed a hard copy.
I strongly recommend that you check your report once per year even if you are sure that your credit is in great shape. This is cheap insurance toward preventing long-term identity theft. If someone does try to steal your identity, you’ll be able to see activity that you do not recognize when you get your report. Consider this exercise cheap insurance; an annual financial checkup.
For these few subscription options, most content is sold in packages. You get so many channels with the basic offering and more and more content with more expensive packaging. A few offerings are sold on an individual basis (pay per view games, a few premium channels), but offerings are usually packaged in a way that you pay for a bunch of stuff you don’t watch in order to get what you really want. For instance, I only watch about 5 channels even though we get about 80. My wife and kids watch another 15 or so in total. So we are paying for 80 channels in order to get the 20 channels we want. This is not efficient nor is it fair. When we move (whenever Casa Quixote is completed), we’re thinking about dropping TV altogether because we feel like we are wasting money.
Some consumer advocates have been promoting another option, Cable Choice, that would legislate that consumers would have the option to only pay for the channels they want on a channel-by-channel basis. This movement has taken on new momentum as the subsidized channels continue to race to the bottom. Some consumer advocates are especially outraged that the FX network has been showing indecent material. I’m not going to quote this material, but if people want to be aware of what is freely available on most cable networks, click here for the offensive details.
It is one thing if people deliberately subscribe, and thus deliberately support, this type of material. It is another thing altogether when people are forced to subsidize unwholesome fare with their basic subscription (The perverted material on FX is subsidized by most consumers since FX is usually packaged with the basic subscription). Hopefully FX’s race to the bottom will motivate our legislatures to create a more competitive marketplace by mandating the option to subscribe to television on a channel-by-channel basis.
The Parents Television Council is asking that concerned people use their website to send an email or letter to the appropriate legislators and regulators. I encourage you to click on the link, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and send such a message.