Did You Put Off Saving For Retirement?
I can really, really relate to this topic.
Hey Number 6 that's really, really special, but can you elaborate.
I learned a lesson the hard way: from my father (see below), so I did not put off saving for my retirement. I've had RRSPs since I was 25 years old, and yes I pay into my company pension.
My father asked the elders over 50 years ago if he should pay in to his company pension (it was optional back then, not compulsory). He was made to feel like an apostate for even asking and, being an impressionable teenager, he never bothered up until the late 1970's. He's now retired and has a pension, but he figures that he loses about $2,000/month, because he didn't pay in to the pension from Day One. He is, understandably, very bitter about it. Last year, at one of the assemblies, we had an asshole of a District Overseer say from the platform:
"Brothers! If you knew 40 year ago that Armageddon wasn't going to be here, do you feel you would have done things differently? Well, you shouldn't feel that way brothers!!"
Everyone, even dedicated Witnesses were furious and disgusted at such a comment, seeing as most of the older brothers and sisters got royally screwed by this religion and I know for some, that was the last straw and they haven't been to an assembly or meeting since.
I can't believe what a loser that DO is. I would never have come back after hearing that slap in the face. There are thousands of Witnesses just like your father that gave up so much for the WT and they are still getting the shaft. It's a shame that so many are having a difficult retirement because they listened to the GB. I agree that for some time having a retirement plan was the same as implying that you didn't believe that the end was coming. I was of that mindset for many years. I'm glad that I found out the truth about the WT.
I didn't start saving for my retirement until I was in my 30's, but fortunately I still have some time on my side and have been making up for the lost years. But I didn't think of doing this until I saw what happened to my parents (both fanatical Witnesses). They, like so many others, thought they would never reach retirement age 'in this sytem' and that the 'New Order' would be here by 1985, or 1991, or 'in the next 5 years', or whatever, etc. So my father never put any money into any 401K plan, they borrowed money on all the equity they had in their home (to buy new cars, vacations, who knows what else), and cashed out their life insurance policy. Well, the years went by and no 'Armageddon', so my father had to keep working way past retirement age until basically he was too old and nobody would hire him (he was 72 by then). So he was forced to retire - no 401K, no pension plan, no savings. All he had was Social Security which wasn't enough to pay their mortgage and other loans they took out (my mother who was in ill health was working as a house cleaner but her income didn't help much). So their home was foreclosed on (which of course ruined their A1 credit) and they moved into an apartment that they could barely afford (my mother kept working). Not long after that my father died of cancer and left my mother with no money or life insurance benefit, so now my mother only receives a percentage of my father's SS benefits (about $890/month) and she still has to work. A very sad story indeed, and yes, I do feel that WT teachings are partly to blame, but so were my parents - they should have had more sense to save for their future regardless of what anybody (or any WT article) told them.
I recently had a discussion about something similar to this with my dad. He thinks that I dropped out of the "truth" because I'm materialistic, and that all I do is work all of the time. Far from it. I work extra hours because I enjoy my job and when I first started to drift it is where I felt most normal. I also grew up very poor: food stamps, trailor houses, and thrifts stores and the like. Not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that, but I'm considering having children and I want better for them. So when I explained my rationale, he said I was happier when I worked part time and pioneered. (Must be early dementia, I only worked part time when I was going to college.) Well our discussion kept going until we got to the subject of 401k's and pensions. He still thinks this is totally unnecessary, because Armageddon is going to come and he'll never be old enough in this system of things to retire and besides, they can just come and live with me, right? Hmmmm....
One of my parent's house rules was that to live there you had to go to all the meetings. I think he thought I was kidding when I said my house rule would be the reverse.
I remember being 12 years old and told that I would never graduate from high school because this system of things was so bad it couldn't last much longer. When that happened I made a decision that I would always plan for the now.
I can say that in my early 20's I didn't appreciate the need to plan for retirement. I was somewhat influenced by the fact that the end might be near. But I also looked around at my non-JW contemporaries who also were not planning for retirement. I also think about the articles I have read in non-JW magazines that show how people don't take their financial future seriously until they start approaching their 40's.
My JW mother participated in her company's retirement from the day she started working there. She got a late start because she was a stay at home mom. When she divorced my dad she realized how dependent she had been on him financially and went about changing that. She is glad now that she did. She collects from her pension, social security and interest from her savings. I am glad too. A sister in her congregation had to go back to work because her JW husband's retirement was not going to be able to support them both. She had not participated enough in the SS plan to collect anything. Her daughter was also allowed to quit school at 15 and pioneer because the end was coming in 1975. This daughter had to go back to school later to get her diploma so she could go to voc tech.
While many JWs have been "encouraged" to disregard their financial future, many non-JWs have neglected it too wanting to spend their money now.
Your story illustrates that wisdom doesn't always come with old age. When I became a JW in the 1940s, the man who studied with our family assured my siblings and me that we wouldn't finish grade school before Armageddon. When I graduated from high school, I should have suspected that I had been misled, but by that time I was convinced that the end was just around the corner.
I started pioneering a few months before I finished school. I had a lot of ups and downs - mostly downs - due to the need for rent money and to pay other expenses, and within two years I had to give up pioneering to work full time. Like some kind of idiot, I got back into pioneering as soon as I could and remained in full-time "service" until I was nearly sixty, depriving myself of many things that people enjoy normally.
The man who studied with us eventually ended up on his death bed due to old age. I made a long trip to visit him. That was 25 years ago. Even while he had less than a day to live, he still felt he would see Armageddon. That should have awakened me to the stupidity of my life course, but it didn't. Instead of realizing that his example lacked any measure of credibility at all, I blindly saw him as an example of faith to the end.
Around the same time, I had a close friendship with two "anointed" couples who were in their eighties and nineties. I'm not kidding when I tell you that after the husbands died both wives expressed to me their doubts that their mates were in heaven or that they themselves would be going there. Instead of realizing that their lives had been spent in futility, I did my best to encourage and assure them concerning what should have been their glorious hope.
My eyes were finally opened unintentionally by a younger person who was just as "zealous" as I was. We loved "the truth," but we were disappointed in ourselves that we had never read the Bible cover-to-cover. We entered into an agreement to do it together by reading several chapters at specified times. That's when I started to discover that the WT said one thing while the context of many verses said something else. That led to sincere questions that rarely received a satisfactory answer from other elders or in letters from the Society. I noticed that some of the other elders had questions similar to mine. Quite often I would be told something like, "Don't mention this to anybody, but here's what has always bothered me about the Society's explanation. ..."
If it hadn't been for that agreement with my younger friend to read the Bible in its entirety, I probably would have ended up on my deathbed like the sad people mentioned above. My friend also developed some doubts, but due to strong family ties remained in the organization.
Today I'm poor and living alone, but I'm not to be pitied. I'm no longer in slavery to an organization that is blind to reality while leading others into that blindness and keeping them there. I'm nearly 70, but in good health with a positive outlook and able to hold a regular job. I have no idea what lies ahead of me for the rest of my life, but I know I will die having a much better understanding of God, life and the Christian hope than I would have had on my death bed as a JW.
I do miss my friends of a lifetime among JWs, and my most earnest wish is that I could somehow reach all of them in a way that would open their eyes to the idiocy of living in bondage to the WT Society. Sadly, most of them will go to their graves not having known the joy that freedom brings.
You are so right about others besides JWs not planning for the future. It's not by any means the best source of encouragement and comfort, but life isn't as scary when I look around and find that there are many others in as bad a financial situation as I am.