BANGOR – There are many older Mainers working into retirement just to get by, but there’s now legislation being proposed to help younger generations of people in the state prepare for their future.
Saving is easier said than done, especially if you weren’t taught about it as a kid.
“Being able to save money through your employer, through your paycheck is a lot easier than educating yourself what a roth and what an IRA is and going down and doing all that work on your own,” said AARP Maine Outreach Director Japhet Els.
He says more than 40% of Maine’s private sector workers don’t have access to a retirement program through their employer. That can present some challenges.
“Maine is made up of small business owners, and so because of how small we are, a lot of them don’t make that leap to start stocking money away, so we think that’s part of the problem,” said Els. “Part of it is making sure that more Mainers are aware of how they can save money and creating really easy vehicles to do so”
One way is through legislation.
“What AARP is looking at is a program that would allow any Mainer who doesn’t have access to a program through their employer the option to start stocking away money,” Els said.
The proposed bill would enact a public-private partnership with the state, called the Maine Retirement Savings Board. Workers in Maine could contribute to their own retirement plan through payroll deductions.
“We think that if we can provide that sort of very basic opportunity or option…that more Mainers could take advantage of it,” said Els. “And it would not only make their financial security later in life better, but our communities as well.”
Financial experts at the Motley Fool Company say retirement cash flow should come from pensions, retirement funds and social security benefits. However, many older Mainers are now in a place where all they have is social security.
“You know some people are living on, eight, nine-hundred dollars a month social security,” said Bangor resident Mary Welch. “And I know some families are raising grandchildren and that’s all they have.”
With the future of social security hanging in the balance, saving is becoming more important now than ever for younger people.
“You need to know how to save, how money compounds,” said Orono resident and AARP Maine volunteer Linda Dougherty. “We never learned that. This twenty dollars is going to be worth how much in fifty years. I think that’s impressive to a lot of kids. Should be.”
“The value of that compounded interest is extremely important and it’s the message I have for anyone in their twenties and thirties,” said Els. “It’s that the more you put away, you are far better off for later in life”
And the people we spoke with had a message for the younger Mainers.
“Don’t take retirement for granted, because someday if you’re lucky you will get to be this age and you won’t want to be wondering whether you’re going to afford groceries or going to a doctor,” said Bangor resident Betty Dietz.
For more information on the Maine Retirement Savings Board, you can visit legislature.maine.gov and search for LD 594.