By Paula Aven Gladych
For Huskie Tools
Lineman jobs are both physical and technical in nature. While on a national average, individuals in this field start out making about $35,000 to $45,000 a year, linemen can earn quite a bit more later on in their careers.
But what about a lineman who is done working?
Visit any apprenticeship program and they will tell you that “in a time when most companies are cutting back on retirement benefits, the journeyman lineman profession offers outstanding retirement benefits to ensure you and your family of a secure financial future.”
Lineman retirement plans include retirement benefits for each hour you work to annual contributions to individual accounts.
Regardless of the plan, there are several ways linemen can ensure they are prepared for retirement.
Lisa Malick, a certified financial planner with Lighthouse Financial in Broomfield, Colorado, says even workers starting out should set money aside for retirement, and reap the rewards in the future.
Just like good lineman tools are essential on the job, there are several tools you can use to make sure retirement goes smooth.
Malick says good planning starts with a budget strategy and deciding what to spend your money on. Instead of going out to eat every day for lunch, decide to only eat out one day a week and brown bag it the rest of the time. Instead of buying coffee every morning, she suggests making it at home and bringing it with you to save money.
“If you take time to look at where your money is going, you can probably find an extra $2,000 a year in those little things that really don’t make much of a difference in your life,” she says.
Linemen shouldn’t wait until they are near retirement to think about their retirement, she says. They need to take the time to look at what they want their retirement to look like.
It isn’t enough to just want to be retired, she says. Instead, individuals need to think about what they want to do in retirement.
“What do you want those years to look like? What is your purpose? Television and golf can only go so far. A lot of people don’t think through that. They are going to retire, wake up and struggle to find a new identity,” she says. For some people, retirement may mean spending more time on a beloved hobby or traveling. For others, it may mean changing careers and starting a small business.
“Research shows that people who have a purpose tend to be healthier and live longer in retirement,” Malick says.
Once you figure out what you want to do in your retirement, you need to put some numbers to the plan. What will you need to save to make your retirement goals a reality?
There are a number of online tools that can help people calculate how much money they will have in retirement based on how much they earn and how much they have saved.
“Obviously it is a moving target but it gives you a place to start,” she says. Many people will get sticker shock when using these calculators but Malick cautions them to remember that most people make a lot more money the older they get. That means they can “turbo charge their savings in the last few years,” she says.
Individuals should get on the Social Security website at least once a year to get their estimate of benefits.
“The younger you are, the less accurate it will be. They have tools where you can project out in the future. It is a good tool,” she says. The Social Security Administration won’t send out statements until people are in their 60s so it is up to everyone to get online earlier and create a presence on the website.
Another thing people neglect when building up their retirement savings is having both pre-tax and taxable savings accounts. Everyone needs to have access to funds that have already been taxed, like three months’ worth of wages set aside in a money market savings account. Malick recommends having equal parts of tax-deferred IRA or 401(k) funds, taxable savings, brokerage accounts and tangibles, like a home.
If your employer does offer a matching contribution on their workplace retirement plan, employees should strive to save enough to get that contribution. It is free money.
Life insurance is a must, especially if the lineman has a non-working spouse and children. Term life is the way to go for people with limited means who just want to get their kids grown and get to retirement themselves.
Generally, individuals go on Medicare when they turn 65. Malick recommends people hire a Medicare specialist to help them navigate the best plan for their family’s needs.
“It is very complicated and, depending on what their needs are, that person can direct you to the best plan available for your particular prescriptions and doctors,” she says. “You usually can find someone who won’t charge you. They will get reimbursed by the companies they represent.”