Originally Posted by Irwin32
\If one waits until they have a guarenteed pension and health insurance, at least there is something to fall back on in the years when we are too old and feeble to sail.
Pay now or pay later.
The "disaster" you're hinting at is definitely possible-- I've heard of retired parents who planned so poorly that they needed to live with their children. (Yet even that is an accepted avenue in some countries, and not always a bad thing for the grand kids. In the individual-centric US, though, it would be considered a radical problem.)
The funny thing is that the "guaranteed benefits" you talk about sound like they belong to a generation or two behind us. Or maybe to people living in a country other than the US. If that's the best option, then people who have cruised to other countries earlier in life may have a distinct advantage in terms of the options for their retirement planning.
My father received a pension, but I've never had a job that offered one, so I've never been promised that (only 401K plans that I manage myself). As for guaranteed health care, my parents had an ongoing plan from my father's employer that covered gaps in Medicare, but I've never heard of that being offered to retired people from where I work-- they are on their own to find supplemental coverage.
So, if I have all these new responsibilities to be accountable for, then my critical mind wonders if another country might be better to retire in. Why not, if everything is ala carte anyway. If everything that you referred to is subject to massive price swings because of uncontrolled inflation (even if just in health costs), then the future in the US is anyone's bet, even if you have your $500k to a million saved up.
It's hard not to think that the younger generations (the 20 somethings) won't be facing a much harder picture, in part because of the deferred costs of the "paying for everything" that is done now for previous generations. "More must be better" is a great premise, if one doesn't really pay for it. In that light, I don't think that your "pay now" point is taking place-- "paying your dues" in your 20s, 30s, and 40s may not lead to the security that it did for previous generations.
Your original question was about 20 somethings who sail off for 40 years and then return with no plan. There was a recent article in Cruising World called "The Peerless Ones" (I believe) about cruising 20 somethings, and all of them had relatively stable and ingenious ways to be out there. Normally, zero percent of them will be gone for so long that they won't have careers later, so your premise would seem to fit with a very tiny percentage of young cruisers. Those who do sail that long, like the Pardeys, are normally making a living off of it.