Pensions have a very particular schedule. You pay in to the same plan - at a rate of 10% or more over a large chunk of your career - and it starts paying out at a fixed point: at age 55, or 60, or whatever.
It seems to me that a pension's particular schedule should instead be one end of a spectrum, the other end of which is credit cards and savings accounts. And then we should fill in that spectrum.
See, savings accounts are a way of putting a little bit of money aside for a big future purchase or a "rainy day." Unemployment insurance does the same job, but it has a fixed pay-out trigger.
Savings accounts, unemployment insurance, and pensions are all ways to smooth out spikes in income over time.
A credit card provides for smoothness too, only it smooths out income spikes into the past whereas a savings account or a pension smooths out income spikes into the future. There are also fixed term investment vehicles with tax benefits.
I wonder whether there's another kind of income smoothness service, one possible only with modern computerised record-keeping?
I've been using Twitshift, which lets me follow myself from a year ago on Twitter. I get to see all the things I was doing and thinking from 365 days in the past. Timehop does a similar job, but across lots of social media. I like the continuous, day-by-day nature of it.
Also I think a little about Bob Shaw's concept of slow glass which is
glass that is so opaque that light takes as long as ten years to pass through it. From a practical standpoint, then, if you looked through a window made of slow glass, you'd see events that took place outside that window ten years ago.
I would like a slow savings account.
A slow savings account would work exactly like a regular account -- I could pay money into it, and transfer money out. The difference would be: when I pay money in to a slow savings account, it appears in the available balance exactly one year later.
Additional slow savings models might include:
A slow savings account would be the exact opposite of a credit card: it distributes present income into the future, instead of borrowing from the future; it deals with assets instead of liabilities; it encourages smooth spending instead of enabling large spike purchases; it raises the level of the safety net instead of raising the level of indebtedness.