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The Millionaire Mailman?

by J. Money on Monday, November 26, 2012

mailman truck

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%?”

“Haha… understood.”

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!

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Photo credit: striatic


{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Darlene November 26, 2012 at 7:11 am

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)

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2 Lance @ Money Life and More November 26, 2012 at 7:14 am

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 :)

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3 Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies November 26, 2012 at 7:45 am

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.

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4 Travis @Debtchronicles November 26, 2012 at 8:35 am

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…..

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5 J. Money November 26, 2012 at 10:19 am

@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? ;)

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6 Stephanie November 26, 2012 at 10:33 am

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.

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7 K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks! November 26, 2012 at 10:39 am

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!

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8 Joe @ Retire By 40 November 26, 2012 at 11:04 am

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.

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9 MainlineMom November 26, 2012 at 11:25 am

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.

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10 StackingCash November 26, 2012 at 11:37 am

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…
http://Www.transparentnevada.com

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11 SavvyFinancialLatina November 26, 2012 at 11:59 am

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.

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12 Leslie November 26, 2012 at 12:17 pm

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!

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13 DCM November 26, 2012 at 12:32 pm

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!

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14 Michael November 26, 2012 at 2:04 pm

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!

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15 MakinSense Babe November 26, 2012 at 2:18 pm

I love this. Now I’m so curious!!! You and Baby $ are like detectives.

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16 Jacob @ iheartbudgets November 26, 2012 at 3:19 pm

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!

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17 Melissa@LittleHouseintheValley November 26, 2012 at 6:15 pm

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!

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18 Slackerjo November 26, 2012 at 6:27 pm
19 Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom November 26, 2012 at 6:36 pm

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

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20 debtgirl November 26, 2012 at 7:59 pm

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!

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21 Tim Allen November 27, 2012 at 12:02 pm

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.

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22 Brent Pittman November 27, 2012 at 3:24 pm

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 :-)

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23 becca November 27, 2012 at 8:25 pm

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).

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24 J. Money November 29, 2012 at 12:12 am

@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…

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25 T nabkk December 18, 2013 at 10:22 pm

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 .

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26 T nabkk December 18, 2013 at 10:23 pm

2013 Now they hire the new carriers at 15$ /hr with no health benefits too .

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27 J. Money December 19, 2013 at 9:30 am

Interesting… seems times are changing, eh?

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28 T nabkk December 19, 2013 at 1:32 pm

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.

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29 J. Money December 20, 2013 at 9:04 am

Really?? That’s sad… business-wise I’m sure it makes sense as the industry is leaking $$$ like crazy, but jeez.

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