Does school prepare children for the real world? "Study hard and get good grades and you will find a high-paying job with great benefits," my parents used to say. Their goal in life was to provide a college education for my older sister and me, so that we would have the greatest chance for success in life. When I finally earned my diploma in 1976-graduating with honors, and near the top of my class, in accounting from Florida State University-my parents had realized their goal. It was the crowning achievement of their lives. In accordance with the "Master Plan," I was hired by a "Big 8" accounting firm, and I looked forward to a long career and retirement at an early age.
My husband, Michael, followed a similar path. We both came from hard-working
families, of modest means but with strong work ethics. Michael also graduated with
honors, but he did it twice: first as an engineer and then from law school. He was
quickly recruited by a prestigious Washington, D.C., law firm that specialized in patent law, and his future seemed right, career path well-defined and early retirement guaranteed.
Although we have been successful in our careers, they have not turned out quite as we expected. We both have changed positions several times-for all the right reasons-but
there are no pension plans vesting on our behalf. Our retirement funds are growing only through our individual contributions.