KuelLife Logo home 1000

Pension? What’s A Pension?

Kuel Life Featured Images December 2021 3

Elder Care Expert: Cynthia Perthuis

Who can ever forget Dolly Parton’s performance in the movie 9 to 5?

“Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living
Barely getting by, it’s all taking and no giving
They just use your mind, and they never give you credit
It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it”

“Today, few of us will ever understand the joy of a monthly deposit into our bank account from a former employer while we are enjoying our retirement.”

Pension Checks:

Both of my parents worked 9-5 to provide for their family. My mother taught school in the same district for her entire career. After my father left the Navy, he only worked for three companies over the next 40+ years.

One of the benefits of working in this manner was the pension checks that waited at the end of those long careers. Today, few of us will ever understand the joy of a monthly deposit into our bank account from a former employer while we are enjoying our retirement.

Defined Benefit Pension Plans, not to be confused with 401k plans have been disappearing. The percentage of workers covered by a traditional defined benefit pension plan that pays a lifetime annuity, often based on years of service and final salary, has been steadily declining over the past 25 years.

Pension Plans:

“From 1980 through 2008, the proportion of private wage and salary workers participating in pension plans fell from 38 percent to 20 percent” (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2008; Department of Labor 2002). As of 2019, only 12 percent of the workforce is covered by a defined benefit pension plan.

I, and many Baby Boomers, have chosen a different path from our parents for many reasons. I wanted more excitement than a 9-5 job. And I also had the attention span of a goldfish and changed not only jobs but career paths every 3-5 years. I have continually reached for the brass ring on the merry-go-round.

Straight Commission Job:

I will always remember the first time that I changed careers and started the lifelong commission-based sales route. At age 28, I excitedly called my mother to tell her about my new job with a small outfit in California.

It was a straight commission job that had a limited benefit package that definitely did not include a pension. It was glamorous and exciting. My mother’s words to me were, “What about your pension”? A little deflated, I could only think, “What is a pension?”

“That affordability sometimes hinges on the available recurring income.”

Available Recurring Income:

As you may remember, I am an avid pickleball player in Naples Florida, The Pickleball Capital of the World. As a working woman, I play regularly in the early morning hours as the sun starts its race across the sky. And as the retirees are coming onto the courts, I am leaving to get to my office.

They will call out to question why I am leaving so early. I always tell them that I do not have a pension so I must work. I am also the person contributing to the ever-depleting Social Security system so that my friends can enjoy games at a more reasonable hour.

When I am not playing pickleball, I am helping older adults find the appropriate living solution as they decline. My goal is to help as many people as I can to find a place that is safe, social, and affordable.

That affordability sometimes hinges on the available recurring income. The clients that have the old-fashioned pension income are usually pretty set when it comes to being able to afford assisted living.

Retirement Savings:

Fast forward over 40 years and close to 10 different jobs, I am registering this month for the only pension that I was able to get. I am about to be the proud recipient of $350, pre-tax, per month.

And I am going to make sure my pickleball friends know that I am a part of the crowd. I will still be playing early but hope that I can use my pension for an expensive fancy coffee once a month while sitting at my desk working my life away!

A Lot Of Pressure:

If you have a traditional pension, treasure it. While I do have retirement savings, the onus is on me to make sure it will last for my lifetime. That is a lot of pressure when I am unable to put my end date on the calendar for planning.

Oh well, I have had (and am still having) a glamorous and exciting life and I make a difference in the lives that I help improve. I wouldn’t change a thing!

“Working 9 to 5, you’ve got passion and a vision
‘Cause it’s hustlin’ time, a whole new way to make a livin’
Gonna change your life, do somethin’ that gives it meanin'”

Did you enjoy this article? Become a Kuel Life Member today to support our ad-free Community. Sign-up for our Sunday newsletter and get your expert content delivered straight to your inbox.


Cynthia Perthuis

About the Author:

Cynthia Perthuis left her cushy life in Corporate America in 2018 to use her personal experience with her parents and her entrepreneurial background to help the 10,000 people a day turning 65 in the US. The stress of helping aging loved ones and working full-time and caring for her own family while living over 1500 miles apart was overwhelming at times. She often wished there was a non-conflicted industry professional to help when facing these life-changing decisions.   She has created her team at Senior Care Authority (www.scanyfl.com) for that purpose. Her team supports over 300 families a year as they navigate these decisions.

Cynthia is originally from Texas and holds a degree from Baylor University.  She has made her home, for the past 18 years in New York City and recently added a home in Southwest Florida.  She enjoys travel and outdoor activities and has practiced yoga regularly for over 15 years.