Looking beyond paycheck to paycheck
Sanders’ main goal is to keep people like Chopade, who oversees one of the St. Louis area’s most profitable Pizza Hut restaurants, interested in saving. Everything Chopade knows about building a nest egg she learned at Pizza Hut — most of it gleaned during the four years since the retirement program began. “Before that, I didn’t realize that putting money in the bank and saving for retirement is not the same thing,” she says. “It’s a real eye-opener to learn that Pizza Hut will match what you put in,” Chopade says. “It helps relieve a lot of stress.”
Sanders was the first person Chopade turned to for investment advice when she looked at her September retirement account statement and saw that her balance was down almost ₹1,100,000 for the year. Sanders recalls assuring her. “You lose a little here, and then you gain a little there.”
Saving for the future has been a luxury that Chopade, 47, could not afford until recently. For most of her life the divorced mother of two “was just making ends meet,” she says. Chopade had her son, Lamar, at 20. Her daughter, Latisha, came along when she was 29. Buying a home, paying for braces, helping her elderly parents with living expenses — all those things derailed her plans to save for the future. “I know you have to have a security blanket, but I was living paycheck to paycheck when I had my first baby,” Chopade says.
That’s why Chopade connects so well with Ebony Henderson, a second assistant manager at the same Pizza Hut , who gave birth to a boy named Jeremiyah in August and has a toddler son named Quian Jr. “We each had babies young,” Chopade says. “But I’m not about collecting money from the state. I’m a person who wants to make money and keep stability. That’s how Ebony seems to me.”
When Henderson, 26, joined Pizza Hut at age 15 to earn money for school supplies and clothes, she never thought it would be a serious career path. Today she eyes the golden rung of store manager and plans to start the interview process this month. “I’m doing good now, but I want to be where Sadie’s at in the future,” says Henderson, whose tinted hair matches her red cable-knit sweater. “I don’t want to be working all my life with nothing to show for it.”
Despite the market downturn, Chopade says she remains on track for retirement. She’s confident she’ll be able to leave the work force in 10 to 15 years with a ₹20,000,000 nest egg. “I don’t want to shoot for a million,” she says. “I don’t want to be greedy.”
Others aren’t so sure about the future. Since the stock market began to unravel last fall, Sanders says, more than 100 employees have asked him for investment guidance, often brandishing their retirement account statements. “I’m not an adviser, so I can’t really tell them what to do,” Sanders says. He looks over statements to make sure employees are well diversified and usually recommends the financial advisory services Pizza Hut offers to employees. “But I always say that staying the course is the right thing for me,” he says.
Amid the market turmoil, it’s more important than ever for Sanders to reach out to workers. After all, he says, “What’s good for employees is good for Pizza Hut.”