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Golden Years — Minus the Gold

“More than half of American Baby Boomers plan to work past 65 — or not retire at all.”
– TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies

That’s a strong statement. What is your reaction? I’m of two minds:

On one hand, I don’t aspire to the kind of retirement our parents’ enjoyed (my father retired from the government at 55). I never envisioned playing golf several days a week (although, one would be good). I like being active and engaged.

On the other hand I’ve been reading some pretty bleak statistics about retirement savings which are more than a little disturbing.

 

The Sunday New York Times devoted an entire section to retirement options for Baby Boomers. And I have to say, “the golden years” is not exactly how The Times was characterizing this phase of our lives. Baby Boomers, in many cases, had to postpone retirement plans as a result of the 2008 recession. People lost jobs, their 401(k) savings plans took heavy hits, and others returned to the workforce due to shortfalls in their income.

The article featured interviews with Baby Boomers:

Carol (70) planned to retire in 2013 but said she had to start all over again, working to put as much money away as she could. She is now at 70% of where her savings was in 2008 but still plans to work a couple of days a week as long as she is able.

Ned (70) and Barbara (67) took a big hit to their 401(k). Barbara returned to work as a nurse. They began replenishing their savings, and Social Security’s full benefits kicked in when Ned turned 70. They will work part time as long as they can be employed and able.

Fred (65), a former financial adviser, took such a hit that he and his wife rent out a room in their home and live a very frugal lifestyle.

 

My empathy went into hyper drive reading these tales. My husband and I could easily have been interviewed for this article. The recession knocked our 401(k) plans for a loop. Like the people cited above, we have steadily — but not yet fully — replenished our savings and have no intention of retiring until it is absolutely necessary.

And we are obviously not alone.

The article quoted a report by the TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies saying that a majority of Baby Boomers will not retire at 65, and many plan to never retire.  

The reasons? Many people have limited savings. Others are afraid they will outlive their savings. Still, others fear incurring a long term illness and extended medical expenses.

 

According to the Bureau of Labor, the two fastest growing age groups in the employment sector are those 65-74 and 75+. And, quite frankly, there are employers who are embracing and even nurturing this trend.

There are even awards for doing so! The Age Smart Employer Awards targets what they call “Role Model Employers” who offer training, re-training, flexible schedules, and phased retirement. This project was initiated three years ago by the Columbia Aging Center at Columbia University.

“We have increased our life expectancy by 50 percent in the last 100 years,” says Dr. Linda Fried, a Dean at the University. “Now we have to design society for longer lives.”

I’m curious how you react to these statistics. I’d love to know your opinions. Please click here to take a survey I’ve designed about this issue. I’ll report back on the findings.

 


liz-kitchens

Liz Kitchens is a writer and blogger.  Her blog, Be Brave. Lose the Beige, reaches out to Lady Boomers, women of the Baby Boomer generation. Liz also blogs for Growing Bolder and Vibrant Nation, two sites devoted to aging issues. Liz conducts workshops on the health benefits of creativity and is an ambassador for the Creative Caregiving Initiative sponsored by the NCCA, The National Center for Creative Aging. Liz founded the Jeremiah Project, an after school and summer creative arts program designed to foster self esteem and encourage creative thinking among at risk middle school aged students.

Check out Liz’s blog, Be Brave. Lose The Beige, and follow her on Facebook.

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