Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Where do we go from here?

Before I got back to my regularly scheduled family blogging (read: not as interesting as the debate going on about retirement) I wanted to just answer a few questions that I have gotten a lot since I posted on Friday.

Many people have asked me what I think the solution is.  You know, since I have an opinion I must be crunching numbers in my free time to balance the budget.  As I stated in my blog post, I am not a politician or a finance person at all.  The point of my post was to illustrate a major piece of the financial life of military families that was missing from the considerations made by the DBB when formulating the new retirement system.  So what I want is for the people making decisions to see "the forest through the trees" as one commenter wrote.  I want them to acknowledge that the average family in this country is dual income and really think about how that impacts military families and their budgets.  If I saw some thoughtful analysts crunching those numbers (which, by the way, all of my research came from journals available at the Joint Forces Staff College library in Norfolk) I would be much happier.

Some accused me of making the private sector look like rainbows and puppy dogs.  That wasn't my intention at all.  My point just goes back to family choices.  Of course people in the private sector struggle to make decisions about money and retirement.  Nothing is perfect.  If a mom or dad has always wanted to stay home and can't because of the economy - that is no fun.  The economy is hard on everyone right now.  The major difference between "us and them" is that they get to make those choices.  I got dozens of emails from women talking about their Master's degrees collecting dust, their "swiss cheese resumes" that are hurting them, and the companies they work for that do everything in their power not to hire military spouses.  This is an issue!  And it is a unique issue.  I wasn't talking about deployments (of course people in the private sector travel) or hardships like that.  I am talking about the PCS schedule of the average military family and how that impacts a woman's ability to hold down a job and contribute toward a 401K style retirement plan.

Lastly, some of you have been really wonderful and talk about how you will just "adjust your budget" and move forward.  While I think it is incredibly awesome to have good financial organization and saving, I would caution you against just mindlessly allowing whatever happens happens because you are organized.  The bottom line is that they are taking money out of your pocket.  That if they pension goes away, you are losing literally millions of dollars.  And you would have to figure out how to make up those dollars.  Not something that I think can be whisked under the carpet in the name of coupons and a good Quicken spreadsheet.

My plan is to reformulate my post into an official letter.  I will take some of your comments to heart when doing it, take out the slang of my original post, shorten it (so people actually read it), and send it off to everyone I can think of.  I welcome all feedback and suggestions.


Michelle said...

Jill, after looking at your blog, I think I might have known you long ago when we were both planning our weddings? In any case, I would be willing to help with an offial letter. I am a licensed attorney who has never been able to practice due to our military moves. This summer, he will be doing our 4th OCONUS to CONUS (first CONUS to OCONUS then OCONUS to CONUS, then CONUS to OCONUS, and now OCONUS to CONUS). By the time we move, we'll have been married 8 years. On top of the frequent moves, both of our children have special needs...and frequent moving means re-setting up therapy, advocating for them, meetings with the school, more evaluation, etc. It is a full time job in itself.

Jill said...

@Michelle, That would be wonderful! Can you click the "Contact Me" tab and send me an email?

Anonymous said...

I really appreciated the perspective you provided in your original post. My first thought was "I really wish I knew someone who knew someone (who knew someone) so that 'someone' who mattered could see this!" I'm very excited to hear that you will be composing an official letter, and I hope that it makes its way to someone with decision making authority (or at least to someone who knows someone who...). Thank you for sharing your thoughts and bringing this situation to light!

Hi, I'm Jill!

Hi, I'm Jill!
Extrovert. Mom of two. Wife of a cute Naval Aviator. Lover of wine. When I'm not chasing my two kids around town you will find me writing, taking too many photos, and researching the ten future areas the Navy could potentially (but probably won't) PCS us. We are fish out of water, landlocked at 7,000 feet. For now.

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