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Retirement question spurs reader thought

Our weekly online poll has been a pleasing addition to Numismatic News. It encourages participation by readers in real time and it sometimes coaxes out some interesting points of view.

I use the word ?sometimes? because there are weeks where the results look like election day in a Third World dictatorship, almost everyone says yes or no in unison. That this happens from time to time is no surprise to me, because collectors wouldn?t be collectors if we did not share certain opinions. We are basically self-selected to hang out together and pursue our lifelong hobby. If that doesn?t create some uniformity in some areas, it would be a bigger surprise.

However, collectors also treasure their uniqueness. This week?s question about using coins in retirement elicited some interesting responses, all the more so because so many respondents wrote at some length. Obviously, some deep thought was given to the matter.

Retirement is a very real concept for me. Every passing birthday gets me closer to it. I am 14 years away this month to full Social Security retirement age. Yes, I believe I will get it. It is one of the few certainties in my view. It doesn?t matter if $1,000 a month becomes $10,000 a month or $100,000 a month, the government will send out those checks no matter what the cost or possible inflationary consequences. That doesn?t mean I am not taking other steps.

I have got the usual corporate 401(k) plan and IRAs. My employer does not offer a defined benefit plan, which the rest of us simply call a pension.
Coins figure in my planning also. They are not a formal part of it, but they are there. I keep an inventory and at least try to have a value attached. This is a good thing for insurance, but it is also a part of retirement planning. I have never bought a coin with the idea that it was for my retirement. I never will. However, it is foolish to simply ignore that lump of value out there when I think of my future.

I won?t eat dog food if I have a coin to sell. I will have some real assets if the worst happens and inflation adds many zeroes to my monthly Social Security check yet reduces its real value.

And the worst may not happen. What if my paper assets perform as expected? What if life in the future is pretty much like life today? I will still have a collection to play with and perhaps I can even earn a little extra money helping a dealer at his bourse table when the time comes, or volunteer to help put on a show. Who knows? The hobby gave me a boost when I was a kid, it has given me my livelihood and it may give me a retirement, too. Talk about lifetime learning.

Those are just some of my thoughts. See what readers have to say on the online poll page.

Until you actually decide to retire, all plans are subject to change. You might need the coin collection to fund a family emergency or a quality education for a child. Collectors have sold their holdings over the years to fund homes, their daughters? weddings and just about every other conceivable need. What other hobby does that on such a large scale as ours?

About the only wrong answer to the question is to simply not think about it at all.

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