TV’s “Shameless” Takes on 401(k)s

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In this video clip from “Shameless,” young adults may relate to Fiona’s reaction to “the 401(k) talk” by a manager who pops into Fiona’s cubicle.

This popular television dramedy, “Shameless,” is about the dysfunctional Gallagher family of Chicago, and oldest daughter Fiona (played by Emmy Rossum) does what she can to keep things together.  But how to cope with the 500-page 401(k) binder her manager drops on her desk with a thud?

It’s been rare that 401(k)s are mentioned on television.  So, why have retirement savings accounts entered our popular culture?

Ken Pidcock

The pie chart reminds me of a presentation I once attended given by a couple of TIAA-CREF guys pushing target date funds. Solves that whole allocation thing, right? Only later did I realize that target date funds are high expense funds of funds, designed to allow every parasite to get a piece of every host.

Ted Leber

Love it. Only wish the supervisor had spent another minute explaining the other 399 pages 🙂 And cautioned Fiona to select a number of no-load, passively-managed funds. But how could Fiona even put away $25 a pay period? Not a chance!

Peter Krieger

Just my two cents: if you take 10 representatives from each of the top ten 10 non-financial careers, such as brain surgeons, criminal attorneys, microprocessor designers, software engineers, video editors, aerospace engineers, geologists, marine biologists, pharmaceutical researchers (I am talking about intellectual and artistic heavyweights), I don’t think that more than five to ten percent will have sufficient knowledge about portfolio management and actuarial science to run their own 401(k) (or other contributory retirement plan) optimally. The average worker, let alone top performers in highly technical fields, is unlikely to be able to be act as their own pension manager. It is a specialized set of skills, with little margin for error.

That being said, a 401(k) plan is better than nothing, and it is relatively low-cost to either read a few websites or books to gain some basic knowledge.

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