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Friday, January 31, 2014

"It's Time for the Talk"

Showtime's "Shameless" season premiere Sunday features the young and exceedingly cash-strapped Fiona (played by Emily Rossum) being informed of the happy news that after 90 days on the job, she's eligible to enroll in the company's 401(k) retirement plan. The look of incredulity on her face when she repeats "I deposit part of my salary?" should be familiar to struggling millennials across America, not to mention wage-deficient workers of all ages. Fiona's boss dumps the pie charts and graphs on her desk, instructs her to choose her risk profile and asset allocation, and triumphantly announces, "Easy Peasy!" (See trailer below.)

I'm happy to suggest as supplemental reading for this episode--and a good antidote to happy-talk purveyors of 401(k) pie charts--Helaine Olen's book Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry, now in paperback. I did some research for the book, and can testify that Chapter Four, "The Coming Retirement Train Wreck," proves that Fiona's look of incredulity is justified.  -- B.B.

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