In the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic as the world approaches 1 million confirmed cases, I find myself with a bit of extra time on my hands because as I mentioned in my previous blog post, I am now working from home and saving several hours a week on commuting/getting ready for work (not to mention financially on transportation costs).
With the NBA season postponed for the foreseeable future and very little NBA news to follow, especially pertaining to the Milwaukee Bucks, I actually find myself with an extra 7-8 hours a week including the extra sleep that I have been getting.
While I have been using most of that extra time to unwind and watch TV programming, I can't help but find myself thinking about the future.
One thing in particular that has been on my mind for quite a while and most recently, is the fact that the Social Security trust funds that fund Social Security retirement benefits in conjunction with FICA tax contributions are projected to be fully depleted by 2035, according to the 2019 Social Security Trustees Report.
With this in mind, it raises concerns about the future of programs that tens of millions of Americans depend on, leading me to the following statement.
The U.S. Government Is Beyond Dysfunctional
Without being too political (as I find politics to be a distraction from our government's inefficiency and incompetence to pit us against each other), you don't have to even follow the news to know just how unreliable and dysfunctional our government is perceived to be at protecting our best interests as citizens.
Whether you consult with others that you personally know or reference the study conducted by Pew Research Center that found only 17% of Americans said that they could trust the government to do what is right, it's abundantly clear that the vast majority of Americans don't trust the government, and rightfully so.
Rather than actually addressing the fact that our programs for retirees are at risk of becoming unsustainable in the not so distant future without further action, the Washington elite are playing politics and focusing on issues that are politically expedient, "kicking the Social Security can down the road" rather than doing the responsible thing and being pragmatic to secure the future of these programs for us and our posterity.
While I do believe that politicians will eventually address this issue with some combination of FICA tax hikes or increases in the retirement age to address the improved life expectancy rates since the implementation of Social Security, and they will face no choice but to do so given the popularity of these programs, I believe it is better to be safe than sorry and to take control of your financial future.
You Must Trust Yourself To Secure Your Financial Future
While I understand that many in the American public are unsure of how to take control of their financial future and often lack the knowledge of personal finance to do so (let's face it, personal finance can be boring for most people), it is essential for everyone to do so because nobody else is capable of handling your financial future as well as you are capable of once you develop an understanding of budgeting and investing.
Dividend growth investing has proven to be a highly effective strategy in conjunction with purposeful budgeting to secure one's financial future and eventually achieve financial independence to enjoy one's retirement without worry of running out of money or relying on the government or an employer for retirement benefits.
We only need to look to the likes of Jason Fieber of MrFreeat33 to realize the true potential of living below your means and investing in high-quality dividend growth stocks.
If you haven't read Jason's story, I would encourage you to do so as it is incredibly inspiring.
Jason was one of the very first individuals in the online community that shaped my thoughts and led me to eventually select the dividend growth strategy when I began investing in September 2017.
Jason's story proves that it is possible for everyday folks like you and I to achieve financial independence with sensible budgeting, an effective approach to investing such as the dividend growth strategy, and patience.
For newer readers of the blog or readers that would like a refresher on the reasons that led me to become a dividend growth investor, I would refer them to this post.
Regardless of your political beliefs and whether you believe the government will come through and secure the continuity of Social Security retirement benefits, the moral of the story is that you shouldn't be depending upon others to secure your financial future, especially out of touch bureaucrats in Washington.
There are so many personal finance bloggers out there that have reached financial independence and serve as a model for us to follow in one way or another such as Jason Fieber, so it is important for those of us in the community to spread the message to those that maybe aren't up to speed on the need to secure their financial future independent of the government, employer pensions, etcetera.
What are your thoughts on the situation regarding the sustainability of Social Security retirement benefits?
Do you believe that you will be able to personally recover all of your contributions into FICA taxes once you reach the age of being able to collect your benefits?
Am I blowing the need to secure one's financial future out of proportion?
As always, I appreciate your readership and welcome any comments that you are free to leave in the comment section below.