four seasons of The Sopranos, two radically different versions
of retirement have been portrayed. Both of them involve water. In a
wistful swansong, "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero tells Tony and crew:
"I always wanted a house by the ocean. Maybe in another life."
It's a nice dream but one that will elude Big Pussy. Soon he sleeps
with the fishes. It's early retirement Sopranos stylea
permanent pink slip for FBI rats, rivals, and informants. A one-way
boat ride that concludes with a gunshot and a loud splash.
would prefer to spend his Geritol years in a house on the Jersey shore.
To that end, he buys Whitecaps, a beachfront property where he can take
the kids today and retire tomorrow. Understandably, Carmela wants securitya
rainy-day fund and control over her own financial future.
nobody watches The Sopranos for retirement advice. But because
Tony and Carmela Soprano want to reach their sunset years without getting
clipped or arrested, they do follow, in their way, basic rules for retirement
consult experts. After much nagging, Carmela persuades Tony to meet
with her cousin, a financial adviser. Afterward, she invests in government
bonds, and Tony is inspired to get involved in a low-income housing
scam. Tony focuses on making more money and stashes tax-exempt bundles
in his garden and his lawyer's office. Carmela gets her real-estate
license so she can start earning on her own, and she asks Tony for money
to invest in stocks.
do their research. "CNBC is a very interesting channel,"
Carmela says when her daughter finds her watching the financial news.
At neighborhood social events, Carm eavesdrops when the talk turns to
stock picks. She learns about different financial vehicles and exactly
how much she can deposit before a bank is required to notify the IRS.
Tony is equally methodical. Before signing off on a planned robbery,
he figures out if it's a federal crime or violates interstate commerce
laws. And before he buys Whitecaps, he brushes up on escrow rules.
diversify. Tony knows it's unwise to put too many eggs in one or
two baskets. So he invests in the Bada Bing strip joint and gets involved
in airline ticket scams, brokerage fraud, and exporting luxury cars.
He adds traditional savings accounts and wads of cash hidden in bags
of birdseed. Carm is more a savings-under-the-mattress type. "I
want something save," she tells one of her bankers. "Something
'old economy,' maybe treasuries."
Tony and Carm, like countless others, go off the tracks. Uncle T is
an inconsistent boss, father and investor. He often sleeps till noon
and abdicates responsibility. His lawyer has a suitcase of cash for
him or Carmela if things get really bad, but that's about it for long-term
planning. For her part, it's taken Carmela four years to start building
a nest egg, and she makes the mistake of thinking she can build it once
and then ignore it.
they don't plan as a couple. They don't communicate about their financial
goals, and their views clash about when and how to retire. Carmela wants
to create a life insurance trust, but Tony's lawyer warns about a "big
red flag" that might attract attention. Do they discuss it? Explore
options? Fuggedaboudit. They simmer and brood.
might not make it to retirement anyway. "There's two endings for
a guy like me," he tells his therapist, "dead or in the can.
Big percent of the time." Besides, at this writing, Tony and Carmela
are in Splitsville. They may not be together if and when they retire
to compare planning strategies. Still houses on separate beaches wouldn't
be bad for the godfather of New Jersey and his wife. If they keep investing,
communicate better and stay alive, it's possible. Stay tuned.
US News & World Report Retirement Guide 2004