Retirement Plans Must Take Inflation Into Account


Item Submitted By Darrell Pittman Full Column Show Next. in Legible Print.

Item Submitted By Darrell Pittman
Full Column Show Next in Legible Print.



                                                                                                                                                                                                     He Made a Coffin For Himself And Grew Too Large For It

San Antonio, Tex., July 6. — Last night C.J. Vivroux died in the 74th year of his age. There was nothing in particular the matter with him beyond his advanced age. He was a Frenchman by birth and a locksmith by trade, and was universally respected. For a long time he ran a shop on Navarro street, and did a thriving business. Eighteen years ago he made himself a coffin of iron. It stood in his working place in view of all visitors. He was proud of its workmanship, its shape, the elegant manner in which it fit him and its other merits. He realized a very handsome competency, and retired from business taking his future abode with him. Up to the moment of his death it was a cherished piece of furniture in his bedchamber. He never lost faith in it, and his admiration of it never abated a jot. Unfortunately, like most of his nation he lived well and during his retirement took on much flesh. When the attendants attempted to place him in the “narrow house” which his hands had fashioned so many years ago it was found that he had outgrown it. All efforts were unavailing, and C.J. Vivroux was buried in a custom made coffin after all.

~ Galveston Daily News, July 7, 1888


The 1888 death of 74 year old C.J. Vivroux in San Antonio  is a pretty good example of what happens to younger people who build financial retirement cash based on formulas  that fail to take into account the serious effects of inflation upon any best laid plans of mice, men, and women over time.  Although Vivroux’s dilemma was about the failure of his longtime plan to be be buried in a cast iron casket that he had proudly built for himself as a younger man, he had failed to consider that his own body weight inflation over the years might mean, in the end, that his internment plan, like any under-inflated retirement plan today, might be too small to meet his needs.

In the case of Vivroux, that proved to be no big problem for the undertaking crew. They apparently just dumped his undersized iron casket or sold it to a smaller customer – and threw together an XL custom-made pine box that he would have gotten without a plan. The living person in 2015 who runs out of retirement money and has no family or friends left to support them as still breathing disaster has to apply for Medicaid just to qualify for the lowest level of minor league minimal nursing home and health care available through the public coffers. That’s still not a big problem, if you are someone who has never had anything and you have a lifetime of welfare check receipts or a government agency that can prove that your needs are well known and documented. It is a problem, however, for those who have worked all their lives and have the IRS payment receipts to show for it. The workers who run out of money in retirement now have to prove that they are now legitimately broke – and not just trying to pull the wool over Uncle Sam’s eyes by hiding their assets. The problems this has caused for some newly-broke retirees has grown so complexly that it has spawned the growth of another specialty in legal practice called “elder attorneys’ – lawyers who do help elders with issues of age discrimination and abuse, but also spend a large amount of time now helping those seniors who once had assets prove that they now qualify for public assistance through Medicaid.

What’s the lesson here? I’m not totally sure, but I don’t like the one I’m hearing. – It sounds like it’s easier to get public assistance as an elder if you simply have been on it all your life, but if you have worked your way into old age and, due to bad planning or a catastrophic health problem, you now may have to retain a lawyer and develop a plan for proving that you are not just another crook trying to get into the public entitlement trough.

Oh well, old C.J. Vivroux’s problems back in 1888 weren’t all that complicated. Besides, he was already dead and didn’t even realize there would be a problem, unless, of course, he had tried out the iron casket later in life on a trial run and had one of those “UH-OH” moments that he then decided to ignore. All he needed when his problem came to light was – a carpenter and a guy with a shovel – and they might have even been the same man.

Pardon me folks. I’m now in recovery from barbeque inflation as a result of yesterday’s Fourth of July Food fest. Fortunately, my future plans are not based upon the presence of an iron casket I’ve been lugging around for a half century.


The Pecan Park Eagle Says:

The Pecan Park Eagle


3 Responses to “Retirement Plans Must Take Inflation Into Account”

  1. vdpittman Says:

    No doubt he died from a coffin fit

  2. Rick B. Says:

    “There was nothing in particular the matter with him beyond his advanced age.” That’s a classic! It also reminds me of a story my grandfather used to tell. He was on his way home one day when he met a neighbor who said he’d just been to the doctor. My grandfather asked if the neighbor was okay, to which the man responded, “Oh, yeah. The doctor said I could live to be 100 if nothing happens in the meantime.” Alas, something did happen – namely, the same thing that happened to C. J. Vivroux, and he didn’t live to 100 either.

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