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Retirement lost: From six-figures to flippin' burgers

Published: Monday, Sept. 23 2013 7:30 p.m. MDT

Tom Palone's retirement includes flipping burgers at a golf club grill and demonstrating food at Sam's Club.

Bloomberg video

There is something admirable about the independence and hard work of Tom Palome, a 77-year-old former vice president of marketing for Oral-B.

According to an article about retirement in Bloomberg, Palome "worked hard his entire career, paid off his mortgage and put his kids through college," but "like most Americans he didn't save enough for retirement."

Where Palome used to pull in six figures, he now flips burgers at a golf club grill and demonstrates food at Sam's Club.

"When the 2008 financial crisis hit," Bloomberg reports, "what little Palome had saved — $90,000 — took a beating and he suddenly found himself in need of cash to maintain his lifestyle. With years if not decades of life ahead of him, Palome took the jobs he could find."

Palome is not alone. Bloomberg said the median amount of money people age 55 to 64 had in their 401(k)s was $120,000 in 2011. That is just $30,000 more than Palome. Bloomberg says it isn't enough since it "will provide $4,800 a year, assuming seniors withdraw 4 percent annually, the amount recommended by retirement experts to ensure retirees don't run out of money in their lifetimes."

The Huffington Post's take is that Palome's story should "scare you into saving for retirement."

The Billfold.com says Palome's position is not all his own fault: "When his kids were 14 and 16, his life turned upside down after his wife was tragically killed in a car accident, and he went from an executive who traveled a lot for business to a single father who tried to hold everything together. … And yes, Palome also made other choices instead of diligently putting away money into a retirement fund: He funded his children's college education (folks, please fund your own retirement accounts before putting away money in a 529 college savings plan or another kind of savings plan for your children — they would rather have you be able to retire comfortably than working at 77). … He also provided financial help to his elderly parents. Palome was very generous to others, and not enough to himself. Even so, he could not have foreseen the financial crisis. It was bad luck and timing."

EMAIL: mdegroote@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @degroote

Facebook: facebook.com/madegroote

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