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How do I plan for the future if I know that I’ll pretty much always have an extremely rewarding yet fairly low-paying job? I’m looking at an average salary of $45,000 annually in the public-service sector.


Always is a very long time. You may decide to change careers at some point. But let’s assume that work will pan out about as you expect. Let’s also assume that you’re in your 20s and just starting out. A little goes a long way when you have a long time – although somewhat less than always – to accumulate it.
Say you’re 25, make $45,000 a year and save 10 percent of your salary for retirement. Say also that your employer will kick in an additional 5 percent, your salary will rise 3 percent a year and your pension fund will earn 8 percent a year. Based on those modest assumptions, the retirement calculator at reckons you’ll have $2.25 million at age 65.
Chances are that won’t buy as much as it does now, but it’s still a nice chunk of change. You just have to make sure you live with sufficient discipline and simplicity to contribute month in and month out. If you find your tastes becoming more expensive, you may have to switch out of the public sector and into a job that offers a bigger paycheck.
-Conrad de Aenlle