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Lucy and Raul Are Fictional, All Right

October 15, 1995

So your fictional Lucy and Raul saved $2 million from their modest salaries by retirement, with no greater inconveniences than small salary increases and unexpected $40 ballet lessons for the kids ("Playing the Money Game," Oct. 1)? May I suggest some alternative scenarios for Lucy and Raul that reflect the realities of life in Southern California?

* Lucy and Raul buy a home for $250,000. Their children, Benjamin and Leticia, enter public school.

* When a precipitous drop in academic standards becomes apparent, both kids are enrolled in private school. Cost: $15,000 a year.

* Following waves of corporate downsizing, Lucy and Raul wind up moving and selling their home--for a whopping $140,000.

* Raul's new employer does not contribute to the 401(k) plan, and it moves all employees to an HMO with no dental or vision coverage. Lucy's new employer doesn't even offer medical insurance.

* Having had no fewer than nine employers between them, Raul and Lucy retire without a significant pension from any. Their frugal lifestyle and earnest efforts at saving leave them with a retirement nest egg--but $2 million?

Nice try.

SANDY HACK

Valencia

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Your story uses "Lucy Sanchez" to stand in as an imaginary average college graduate. There were several of her attributes that concerned me.

* "Lucy Sanchez graduates from college at age 22. Try 32.

* "She has $5,000 in credit card and student debts." How about $15,000, or even more?

* "She gets a job that pays $25,000 annually." More like juggling part-time jobs, temp work and free-lancing, maybe even an unpaid internship.

This supposedly "average" example sounds nothing like my friends or me, all recent college graduates (with honors even). Lucy Sanchez truly is "imaginary"--she's a work of pure fiction!

MICHELE WHALEN

Los Angeles

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