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Retirement IQ test on MSN Money website

Posted by jkom51 (My Page) on
Mon, Sep 1, 08 at 11:17

A fun (and sometimes humbling) multiple-choice quiz on your Retirement IQ at the MSN Money website. I knew I wasn't going to get a perfect score as some of the questions don't apply to my personal situation, but I missed at least one question that I definitely should have known! It doesn't take long to complete it. The link is below if you'd like to try it.

Here is a link that might be useful: What's Your Retirement IQ quiz


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Retirement IQ test on MSN Money website

Thanks for the link to the quiz. I took it and scored 80 out of 100, which was rated as having a good grasp of the issues. I was wrong on a few points of law, on which I guessed because they do not apply to me.


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RE: Retirement IQ test on MSN Money website

This non-resident only scored 56 ... guess it'd be unwise to consult him about U.S. retirement options!

ole joyful


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RE: Retirement IQ test on MSN Money website

Thanks, Jkom! I was 68 - it said I knew the basics but I needed to learn more about the intricacies of the law. Our retirement money is primarily in 401Ks and Roth, so I don't know as much about other investment opportunities or their laws. Plus, I have only started trying to learn more about this stuff.

So, just curious (as I have quickly come to respect the opinions of those who post here) - I am 36 - what does anyone predict will happen for social security by the time I get to retirement?

My personal thoughts (perhaps wishful thinking) are that they can't have had this as a government program for so many decades and had people pay in to it for so long and then just say, tough cookies, we're bankrupt, you're out of luck. I think there would be a social uproar about it.

But no matter what I think or would like, I need to plan for what is likely.


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RE: Retirement IQ test on MSN Money website

I think the likelihood is (putting on my very cloudy wizard's forecasting hat) is that there will be minimal Social Security benefits with greatly extended retirement ages put in. Currently retirement ages range from 65 to 68(?), depending upon when you were born.

With life expectancies rising so quickly - the fastest growing group of people is the 80+ age group - retirement ages will start at age 70, at a minimum.

You have to keep this in perspective. When people first started collecting Social Security, the average life expectancy past age 65 was a mere 7 years. The system was not designed to pay out for four decades because no one expected such an improvement in mortality over such a short period of time. Nowadays, if a couple retires at 65 in good health, the age of the SECOND person to die is an average 92 years. And that age is still lengthening over time as mortality stats continue to be collected. This is one of the reasons financial planners almost as a group unanimously went from recommending 5+% drawdowns from a retirement portfolio, to a more modest 3-4% annual draw. Otherwise, the assets won't last 30+ years.

The Medicare system is in much worse shape. Bush's drug benefit may have been a political plus but it has proven costly and difficult to manage. The US spends twice as much money per capita on its healthsystem yet our mortality is very poor compared to its peers (see the NY Times July 17, 2008 article titled "U.S. Spends on Healthcare but Study Faults Quality" - the US ranks dead last in preventable mortality!). There are good and bad sides to nationalized medicine, but either way, there is not enough tax money to support both an increasingly unworkable healthcare and retirement system without some painful changes.


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RE: Retirement IQ test on MSN Money website

I, too, only scored 56 percent.

Many of those questions had absolutely nothing to do with my potential retirement situation, so I had no clue.


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RE: Retirement IQ test on MSN Money website

Yes, as a short quiz I imagine it had to necessarily cover a wide variety of topics that don't apply to everyone! But it reinforces what we've all discussed on various threads here - a person's financial situation is a very individual thing, and there is no "one size fits all" to make it easy.


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RE: Retirement IQ test on MSN Money website

So we live super long and yet have the highest mortality rate?


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RE: Retirement IQ test on MSN Money website

We are putting what little money we have into down payments on rental properties. I am only a little nervous about it, in fact I am amazed at myself. I once told Dave Donhoff that I would send him screaming from the room if we ever sat down together to talk about my having all my $ in safe, low return, CDs.


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RE: Retirement IQ test on MSN Money website

I wonder. If Soc Security hangs on and we don't get any kind of national health benefits......I think the avg life expectancy might dip.
We hear constantly how the current generation is obsese, we don't exercise, people without access to health care can't take care of their teeth or diabetese, eat poorly. We've all been eating far more chemicals and even the exercisers among us doesn't equal the hard daily physical work, lower calorie input of simplier foods that the current 80+ experienced.


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RE: Retirement IQ test on MSN Money website

No, what the US has is the highest "preventive mortality" rate - IOW, mortality from issues that could have been prevented (allowing the person to at least live to the average age) if we spent more on basic or preventive healthcare. It is one of the main reasons why US infant mortality also lags far behind the majority of its peer nations. Nationalized healthcare systems spend much more on basic healthcare than on specialized care; in the US it is often the other way around.

This may also contribute to what is making local emergency rooms increasingly rare (the number of local emergency rooms in the SF Bay Area has dropped to one-third what it was in 1980): emergency rooms become the last-ditch stop for the uninsured. So we all end up paying for the healthcare of our neighbors, no matter what. Obviously, the longer you put off basic care, whether body, dental or vision, the worse the problem becomes and the more difficult/expensive it is to cure it. So emergency rooms, in many urban areas, are becoming too expensive for local governments to maintain.

I've seen a stat mentioned several times (maybe from AARP?) that the vast majority of the money spent on US medical care is spent on the last five years of life. Very sobering, if true.


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RE: Retirement IQ test on MSN Money website

What I remember reading in the AARP magazine was that most of our insurance dollars go to preemies, not the aged. I don't have any figures in front of me and may be wrong about that. The grandson of one of my friends was born with a defective heart. The new mom was a teacher so had excellent insurance. The baby could not survive off life support, but the new parents kept their baby alive for over a month at a cost of millions to taxpayers.


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RE: Retirement IQ test on MSN Money website

If the mom had excellent insurance, how would keeping a newborn on life support cost taxpayers any money, much less millions? Even if taxpayers paid the insurance premiums for the teacher's insurance, it seems ... unlikely ... that the increase would be a significant amount.


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RE: Retirement IQ test on MSN Money website

I don't believe it's correct that most of our health dollars go for preemies. It is true, however, that 50% of the dollars spent on Maternity is spent on preemies.

From Fullterm.org:
Burden on the U.S. healthcare system
Prematurity has major costs for the U.S. healthcare system. According to the March of Dimes, in 2003 hospital charges for all newborns in the U.S. were $36.7 billion. Nearly half of that $18.1 billion was for premature/low birth-weight babies.2

Antepartum and neonatal care affect employers' healthcare costs and workplace productivity. Direct healthcare costs to employers for a preterm baby are 15 times higher than those for a healthy, full term baby. Mothers of preterm babies spend an average of 29.1 days on short-term disability, compared with 18.9 days for mothers of full term babies. Preterm babies spend an average of 16.8 days in the hospital in their first year, compared with 2.3 days for full term babies.
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I recently watched a PBS special by Ed Slott, IRA expert, called "Stay Rich Forever and Ever" - he was discussing Stretch IRAs. He is widely quoted by such people as Larry Kudlow of CNBC. According to his presentation, the majority of people's retirement money is spent as follows. Whether he is right or not, I have no idea.
#1 - nursing homes
#2 - taxes

However, we are getting somewhat OT. The original issue is simply one of trying to figure out what you know and don't know about retirement issues. As I said yesterday to one of my friends (who is our successor trustee and beneficiary, in fact), handling finances is not so much a matter of knowing all the answers as it is being able to ask the right questions, and find the people best qualified to give you an answer!


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