An interesting thing happens when you’re taking care of a child all day long – you end up going outside as much as possible in order to try and interact with other adults :) If you’re good with timing you’ll know when everyone’s out and about to increase your odds of some good interaction, and if not you’ll have to hop in the car and go look for it elsewhere. Like at the mall, grocery store, etc …
Lately though, I’ve been pretty good with meeting my favorite people around the community. In particular our postman who’s kind enough to entertain (and answer!) all my questions about what it’s like to deliver mail all day long ;) Things like:
- Where do you use the bathroom? (“At a friend’s house or office building along my route.”)
- Have you ever got bitten by a dog? (“No, but I’ve come close… Also to hitting them!”)
- Do you think Saturday deliveries will ever go away? (“I have no idea but they’ve been saying that for years… I just concentrate on today and let everyone else worry about that stuff. Nothing I can do about it anyways.”)
And my most recent question, which leads us to today’s topic: Do y’all get a pension?
I figured their benefits would be pretty good considering they work for the Gov’t (he pays like $60/mo for health insurance!), but I just assumed they all got pensions which he told me was incorrect. At least the path HE’s on… According to him – and I’m sure there’s some cut off here – he gets matched 100% of whatever he puts in himself. Which means if he puts in 5%, he’ll then get a match of 5% thereby DOUBLING his money from the get go! And being the smart man that he is, he’s been contributing 10% every single year going on 26 years now :) Effectively investing 20% of his salary each time.
“You invest 10% of your paycheck? That’s awesome!! And they give you 10% match just like that?”
“Yup. And I’ve been doing it for 26 years in a row now.”
“WOW. Good for you man. What if you put in 50% of your paycheck? Would they match that too?”
“How the hell could I live off 50%?”
I wanted to ask him more at that point like “How much have you saved so far??” but our convo got cut short when cars started piling up behind us (we always talk in the middle of the street as he’s coming or going from his runs). So for now we’ll have to guess until I can run into him again and work it all back into our conversation ;) So far he doesn’t seem to mind sharing though, bless his heart…
So here’s what we know up to this point:
- He contributes 10% of his salary every paycheck, and receives 10% back in matching.
- He’s been doing this for 26 years in a row now, and will probably retire in another 6 years (his latest guess when I asked)
Now, I have no idea what postal workers’ salaries were back then, but I do know after some quick Googling that the median pay for these guys/girls right now is around $53,860 (According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2010). Which is a) A LOT higher than I would have guessed for some reason? But b) even better for my hopes that he’ll soon become a millionaire if he’s not already ;) So let’s just say for calculation reasons that he was making $30k conservatively for 5 years when he started out, then got bumped to $35k after 5 years on the job, and then up to $40k the next 5, and $50k the remaining 11 years following. Again, I could be totally wrong here, and they seem super conservative really, but let’s just see what happens when we run the numbers…
This would mean he made an average salary of about $41,350/year across his past 26 years of employment so far. (($30k x 5) + ($35k x 5) + ($40k x 5) + ($50k x 11) all divided by 26). Which would also mean an average of $4,135 contributed to his retirement account so far, with that same amount of $4,135 matched as well. Totaling $8,270 every single year of employment. So far so nice! :)
Now if we multiply those yearly investments by 26, it’ll mean he has saved a whopping $215,020 without factoring in any growth or inflation/etc so far at this time. If we add in the typical 7% compounded growth over the years like most calculators use, AND disregard inflation (cuz that wouldn’t have any affect in the AMOUNT he’d have in his retirement accounts at all, just purchasing power), that would bring his total amount of investments to a sizefull pot of $567,954 :) Love it.
And if we factor in the next 6 years at the same rates until he thinks he’ll retire? That brings his nest egg to a whopping $911,504!! So close to my millionaire guess! Woopee! Hahah… And honestly it’ll probably be higher since our salary numbers were on the lower side in my opinion… A few more hundred invested every year would make a killer difference. (Btw I’m using the retirement calculator from CNN Money btw to get these numbers)
Now we’ll have to see how close I am the next time I catch him in our neighborhood ;) You think I’ll be in the ballpark? Think I’m missing any major factors here? Take a guess yourself and let us know! We’ll see who gets the closest when I find out :) (Watch him answer everything but that now, haha…)
Anyways, now you know what happens when I watch Baby $ all day long these days… I harass people during our walks and then try and figure out how much money they have ;) Next up? The policeman that lives on our street… Time to start tracking her moves!
Photo credit: striatic
Get blog posts automatically emailed to you!
What? I’m a letter carrier in Massachusetts and they don’t match *whatever* I contribute and there’s a max that I can contribute though I don’t know what exactly it is.
This quote is from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thrift_Savings_Plan
“FERS employees receive an “Agency Automatic Contribution” of one percent of base pay (this includes any locality pay adjustment and/or shift differential but does not include overtime or bonus pay) from the first day of employment, even if the employee does not contribute to the TSP.
Additional matching contributions are made dollar-per-dollar for up to 3% of base pay, then at fifty-cents-per-dollar for each additional percent up to 5%.”
They don’t match anything over 5%
The plan is The Thrift Savings Plan and there’s more information at tsp.gov
Also, I pay $86.95 every two weeks (26 pay periods per year) for Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance, Family Plan. (It’s going up in January)
Just make sure you don’t pry too far and piss your mailman off. I’d hate to stop getting my good mail and coupons because my mail man thinks I’m nosy :)
He could already be a millionaire if he bought a modest house when he started working – he’s likely to have most of it completely paid off, with a likely increase in value over the same time period.
Just goes to show you want you can accomplish for retirement if you start early and are consistent with your contributions, heh? Be careful with tracking your policewoman’s moves…I’d hate to see that into a stalking incident – she does have a gun after all…..
@Darlene – Hmm… maybe he’s locked into an older plan from when he first started 20+ years ago? Or it used to be, and now he *thinks* he’s getting matched recently but isn’t? I’ll have to poke his brain a bit more the next time we chat and see if I can get a better handle on it. He was pretty certain he was getting a full match though.
@Lance @ Money Life and More – Haha… agreed. We’re starting to become pretty good friends now though, so hopefully it’s all good :) I’ll have to repay the favor and ask him if there’s anything he wants to know about my finances eh?
@Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies – Oh yeah, for sure. Chances are if he’s good at putting aside 10% there at work, then he’s probably good w/ money and stuff in general too, yeah? We had talked briefly about home ownership in the past, but nothing too in detail as yet. Mainly us just bitching about home values ;)
@Travis @Debtchronicles – Haha, indeed! Also have to make sure I come across as “friendly” instead of “flirty” too – which I tend to turn on when I’m trying to get something, haha… whatever works, right? ;)
Geez, I’d love it if my employer matched my contributions. I work for local government in PA, and we have to contribute a minimum of 5% and a maximum of 15%, but it’s a defined benefit plan. It’s kind of a gamble either way, I guess. I benefit from this type of plan if the stock market does poorly, but if it does really well I don’t get to reap as much of a benefit as a defined contribution plan. I’ve hedged my bets and put 5% into the pension and 5% into an IRA.
My brother works for Canada Post and they also have a pretty healthy pension situation if I recall my convo with him…it made me rethink my career choice for about 4 seconds!
Let’s see if you can get the mailman to cough up the real numbers lol!
It would be awesome if the employer match everything. I highly doubt it though. Even 10% is pretty awesome and I hope he is a millionaire. If you count his other assets, he’s probably really close now.
I’d be shocked if it were true the USPS matches up to 10%…does any company do that? I think my husband’s fortune 100 company matches up to 5% and we definitely max that out. Why wouldn’t you, it’s free money? I am sooooo glad we started saving as soon as we started working.
I get jealous of my state’s public employee’s salaries and benefits. Check out this website and tell me what you think of the firefighter’s salary and pension. Makes you wonder…
State jobs are pretty cush. I grew up in a small town, and everybody that worked for the state retired well. Their jobs always seemed so easy.
Good gig for the mailman or anyone if they can get it. I’m with KK@Living Debt Free Rocks, being a Canadian, I know first hand how good our postal employees have it! Good on him for actually taking advantage of this opportunity for the past 26 years. I am sure there were some years that that contribution money could have come in handy. His diligence should pay off for him!
My husband and I both work for the government with 100% match of 5% of our salary IF we contribute 5%. We both put 10% of our salary in and having started for the govt. at age 40, neither of us have huge amounts put away. Both of us will work for approximately 25 years before we retire (we are 10 and 15 years in now). My husband works for the Post Office and the job is anything but “cush”. They treat their employees horribly. Deny vacations and sick leave. Push, push, push. He is a clerk and there is lots of heavy lifting and pushing. My job is more mentally stressful and I am thankful that I don’t work for the P.O. Anyway, yes we are grateful for our jobs and we feel that we work hard and are deserving of the pay and benefits. We have family that work for private industries and some are doing MUCH better with paychecks, some worse. One thing is for sure though, it doesn’t really matter how much you make. What matters is how you spend and save and in that department I think we are doing GREAT!
JMoney–I love reading your blog–keep up the great work!
Yeah, what Darlene said… This got me curious so I dug in and found the same info she did, albeit from an official (USPS) source. Maybe he’s grandfathered into an older plan?
As for the comment on living on 50%… If they were willing to match that much (I’m sure they’re not), I’d take a second job just to make it work!
I love this. Now I’m so curious!!! You and Baby $ are like detectives.
Man, I love someone who can invest consistently. It really does pay off. It will be interesting to hear if he DOES answer your question. Right now, I’m only investing 3% with a 35% match, so not very good. Having a 100% match would be AWESOME!
I hope he gives you some more information. Sounds like you and Baby $ are having fun. My employer had me automatically deposit 8% in retirement, and then after 5 years, they matched the full amount. I stayed at the job longer than I would have liked just to get the match!
Starting early seems to be the key!
In Canada one of the most popular personal finance books is The Wealthy Barber. The primary message is pay yourself first, even if you have a modest wage, like a barber or a mail man, and reap big benefits. Careful about stalking a police officer, budgets may not be so sexy in court. haha
Government jobs ain’t what they used to be. You have to be top managment for your pension to mean squat! Or have worked there for 50 years and retire and 100. It really isn’t that great and I can’t believe how badly the public sector wants what little goverment workers get. Its so sad!
I’d be careful about regarding this one mail carriers supposed pension as a fact. I’m surprised how many public employees don’t know how their retirement plans really work. He is not getting a match on all 10%, or any amount he wants. If he is with the old CSRS system (hired before 1984 or so) he is getting a great deal but there is no “match” so to speak. If he is post 1984 FERS or has access to the TSP, the most match is 5%. He might want to do a little more research, or, like you said, you do a little more prodding. I only make a big deal out of this because public employees, particularly USPS, are contantly on the burner for their lavish pay and benefits (which isn’t true most of the time) and this post seems to perpetuate that.
I’m a topd out custodian at USPS. Base pay 54500, night d, Sunday premium 57500 a year. I always make 75000/to 80000 a year with overtime. I’ve saved 175000 tho in tsp the the 11 yes I’ve been with USPS.
Nice work on that overtime $$! And investing an average of $15,000 a year too in your TSP! Millionaire Mailman status will be yours too at this rate :)
My in-laws were rural mail carriers before Thrift came into being, but not sure what the matching contributions limits were. They seem to be doing o.k., but I figure its rude to ask your in-laws about money….at least for now :-)
When you use the 35k for the first five years, you realize that would mean his real-salary has decreased over time because of inflation, right? 53k in 2011 ~ 26k in 1986 (25 years earlier). So starting him at 35k doesn’t make sense- it assumes he’s not only never had a raise but actually taken pay cuts in earning power (actually, for the USPS that might be true…).
Also, as I’m sure you know, due to the wonders of compound interest, small perturbations in the amount of your contributions in the early years matter quite a lot in terms of the outcome. You can’t actually simplify that he contributed 8k/year since the beginning, because he was probably making no more than an absolute max of 23.4k/year (90% of the average pay, adjusted for inflation).
@Stephanie – Huh. That’s odd that there’s such a high minimum like that, but I guess also good cuz it forces people to save more! So I guess I dig it :) Way to go above it too – it’s all going to pay off over time!
@K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks! – Only 4 seconds? Oh come on – you should have at least lasted 5 ;)
@Joe @ Retire By 40 – Quite possibly! Randomly enough I haven’t seen him ONCE since posting this up, hmmm… hope I didn’t scare him away!
@MainlineMom – You know it! One of the best (and sometimes only) perks of a company! Gotta max that $hit out fo sho ;)
@StackingCash – Holy crap! Some of those are almost at the $200k level when you factor in those benefits – I would have never guessed! Wow… Guess they’re not “volunteer” ones, eh? :)
@SavvyFinancialLatina – And then the downfall is you could get stuck in a place forever too :( Unless you like that kinda thing, in which case even better!
@Leslie – Right? 26 years of hefty savings will add up quite a bit over time!
@DCM – “It doesn’t really matter how much you make. What matters is how you spend” – Yes yes yes! And you guys are doig an excelent job too, keep it up!! All that momentum goes far! :)
@Michael – Haha I know right?
@MakinSense Babe – We sure do our best ;) Part of this duo has to do all the work though!
@Jacob @ iheartbudgets – Hey, at least you’re contributing *something*! I have friends who don’t put in anything – it drives me bonkers… One who even WORKS at a 401(k) company! Whose sole job is to convince OTHER employees of the benefits and to invest!! *shakes head*
@Melissa@LittleHouseintheValley – Hah! I don’t blame you, that’s some pretty good matching. And awesome he forced you to invest so much too cuz that’s a sizeable amount most people wouldn’t go for! :)
@Slackerjo – You know it! Will check that out once I post this up, thanks :)
@Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom – Oh yeah! I keep forgetting about that book actually – one of the main ones I still have yet to read. Gonna add it back on to my list again, thanks :)
@debtgirl – Maybe cuz of the stability? Or how hard they say it is to get fired? Personally I’d mainly do it just to be able to travel more and move around – along with the healthcare benefits (if it’s true how good it is)… Every month when I cut that check for over $600 it stings! (okay, well no checks here, but still – when I see it auto deducted! :))
@Tim Allen – Ahhh, well even more important that I dig deeper then :) Still have yet to come across him since this post went live though, but it should be any day now!
@Brent Pittman – Haha… maybe give them a little beer first ;)
@becca – Inflation or not, it would still be real money being invested over all those years ;) But you could be right on all those salary numbers, I have no idea – I just made them up to see what they would calculate to. I’d have to prod him even further for that info but it may be taking it too far, haha…
They only match up to 5% and then you pay around 20-25 % taxes when withdraw at 59 1/2 if before that u pay 10% penalty and the health insurance in Ny is like 180$ a month for individual plan .
2013 Now they hire the new carriers at 15$ /hr with no health benefits too .
Interesting… seems times are changing, eh?
Forgot to mention that any of the offered health plans doesn’t include any dental plans coverage at all.
Also all letter carriers dont have coverage under any disability plan unlike most of people at any job at a store or city job etc……. which means if you get hurt or just got a longterm illness or surgery you wont get paid my USPS period so you get broke n lose your life because USPS doesn’t want to cover its employees under a disability insurance ! Another example for the lake of disability insurance and- i am sure that’s going to shock a lot of people – is the fact the there are no maternity leave at the post office which means when a woman gives birth she has to use all her own sick leave and annual leave balance period !! and if she doesnt have a balance good luck no pay ! the USPS dose’nt pay any woman in the working force a penny for maternity leave. I am sure that’s going to shock a lot of people – but that’s the realty at the USPS.
Really?? That’s sad… business-wise I’m sure it makes sense as the industry is leaking $$$ like crazy, but jeez.
Just to clarify: the USPS matches 100% of the first 3% contributed, 50% on the next 2% contributed, and an automatic 1% whether contributions are made or not, as long as an account is open. That adds up to 100% on 5% of contributions. The TSP (Thrift Savings Plan) also has a Roth feature, introduced less than a decade ago. There are five index options:G, or government (stable) index; F, or fixed income index; C, or large company (think S&P 500) index; S, or small company (think Wiltshire 4500) index; and I , or international index. There are also target-date funds available which utilize various combinations of the above indexes in a “pre-made” package suited to the retirement date desired. As one can expect, only the G fund is stable, and will not lose money, similar to a money market fund but with bond-like interest rates. My only gripe with these funds is that they reflect any income or capital gains from the index in the form of a price adjustment, not a “reinvestment” of dividends as known in the investing world. As a result, shares acquired remain the same, but the price increases (or decreases) with the market. Only purchases will increase the number of shares. (Of course, two interfund transfers are allowed each month, among the funds, so if one is lucky enough to ride a good stock index increase and jump back into the G fund, more shares may be obtained that way, too, but I do not really recommend this, as timing is almost impossible.) Employee contribution limit for 2019 is $19000 as with almost all 401(k) programs, and a $5000additional 50-year and over catch-up is allowed.
As to disability: there used to be a group disability benefit (to be paid out-of-pocket), but it is no longer touted. It may still be available, but I doubt it would pay out before worker’s compensation, the primary source of carriers’ funding. (And yes, it is an absolute horror to go through the claims process.) We also have sick leave benefits that carry over annually, without limit, and which can count towards time served for pension calculations. We also have annual leave (vacation time), which can accrue up to 440 hours , over which is lost if not used.
I bring all this up because the carrier in your interview did not seem to know or care to reflect the accuracy of these benefits. There is no “unlimited” match, for example.
Haha thanks for setting it straight!
This post is now about 7 years old but I’m willing to bet not that much has changed since then benefits wise :) Appreciate the detailed insight! And thank you for your service!! I feel like y’all never get the love you truly deserve giving us all our mail through all that nasty weather!