Sign up For DC 37 News


Public Employee Press


The path to a comfortable retirement


New School economist Teresa Ghilarducci, an expert on employee pensions and the U.S. Social Security system, has authored a new 100-page retirement guide on “How to Retire with Enough Money: And How to Know What Enough Is.”

“I saw a need for a retirement- planning book that would be accessible, free of lecturing, and most of all, short,” says Ghilarducci. “So I wrote one.”

Along with providing excellent advice, she urges workers and retirees to stay politically engaged as a key part of their retirement plan, in order to safeguard existing retiree protections and to fight for improvements.

Pensions and 401(k) plans. While DC 37 members have traditional pensions, many workers without them are not saving enough for retirement. “This isn’t just a personal problem, it’s a national problem,” says Ghilarducci.

The shift from defined-benefit pensions to 401(k) plans saved money for the bosses, she says, but at the expense of workers who lost reliable retirement income. Nevertheless, contributing to a 401(k)-type plan is a valuable supplement to a traditional pension.

Your retirement plan. Developing a personal retirement plan is important. On average, aiming to live on 70 percent of your pre-retirement income is reasonable, says Ghilarducci, if you are free of mortgage and other major debt. Social Security would cover about 40 to 50 percent for middle income earners, with pension and savings filling in the rest.

A post-retirement job is another option if these sources fall short or if you want to delay collecting Social Security to receive a higher monthly payout, which she recommends.

Budgeting, saving, spending and investing. Ghilarducci walks readers through various real-life scenarios to illustrate how to pay off debt, save, control spending and invest wisely. She says calculators at Dinkytown and AARP can help you to plan, build a budget and pare down your spending so you learn how to live well on less in retirement.

Voting and civic involvement. Major government social insurance programs, Social Security and Medicare, play a big role in seniors’ lives, says Ghilarducci.

“They are worth almost half a million dollars to middle-income Americans,” she says. She urges retirees to “vote and mobilize voters and residents to support the goverment programs that ensure a base-line of income and health-care security.”

Looking to the future. Ghilarducci concludes by outlining her proposal for a new Guaranteed Retirement Account (GRA), a type of national pension plan that would supplement Social Security and “help everyone accumulate a solid nest egg for retirement.”

A valuable manual for retirement planning, “How to Retire with Enough Money: And How to Know What Enough Is” is available at or wherever books are sold.