We’re the Baby Boom Generation. Ever since we arrived on the scene, we’ve chased change and innovation. We invented rock music, the computer age, and plunged headlong into difficult social issues from civil rights to equality for women. We’ve managed to crash through barriers and redefine our world. Now here we stand on the threshold of senior status and once again we’re facing some significant challenges.
Corporations are downsizing, analyzing expenditures, and seeking survival during a weak recovery period. We’re supposed to be in our highest earning years yet many of us are being reassigned, downsized and handed a pink slip. What happened to the golden years of retirement?
After the economic set back of 2008, some of us Baby Boomers are questioning whether we will even be able to retire. Putting our kids through college and also caring for our aging parents has put us in a squeeze. After college, Junior is moving back home into his old room and eating out of our fridge. No wonder we’re just a little wacky.
A May 2013 Gallop Poll indicated that 3 out of 4 Americans believe they will be working PAST retirement age. In the same poll it was indicated that the average retirement age in America is 62, the highest since the Gallop poll started measuring in 1992.
Starting with those born in 1960 and beyond the Social Security Retirement age with full benefits has been raised to 67 and will more than likely continue to rise.
Many of us may have spent a lifetime feeling that we “are” our work and our paycheck, but were not the best at saving. In some cases, planning for retirement was put on the back burner in an effort to “do” for our millennial kids. Now the cold hard truth looms large - “Will I have enough money to last the rest of my life?” The fact may be that most Baby Boomers will have to work longer than expected – and at careers or just plain jobs that we never imagined.
So what’s a Boomer to do?
1. Evaluate your financial situation. If you haven’t already done so schedule a consultation with a financial professional. He or she can help you look at all your possible resources for income: employment, Social Security, pensions, securities and savings, property, insurance, and inheritance. After a closer look you may find that you’re going to be OK!
2. Discuss with your adviser the implications of “when” to start taking your Social Security. Holding off can actually make your financial outlook better and mean more money in your pocket when you need it most. Special Note: Every year you wait to claim social security benefits until age 70 you will boost your annual payouts by 8%. Waiting until you're 70 will give you 32% more in benefits than if you took them at age 66 and you can receive 76% more than taking them at age 62. If you can afford to delay benefits until age 70 and if you live past age 82, you will receive more in lifetime income from Social Security than if you had waited until full retirement age.
3. Take a good hard look at what you want from the next 30+ years. Whether you continue to work to enhance your current standard of living and retirement resources, or you decide to offer your experience and expertise as a volunteer, you are in a unique position to redefine what you will be doing. Before you jump into something new, now is the time for self-assessment. Understanding what motivates you and makes you happy is critical to your success. This is your chance for a second act, and the chance to pursue long-held dreams.
4. Focus on what you have to offer. Don’t marginalize your strengths. Starting a new career or having been out of work or downsized can affect you physically, mentally and emotionally but you bring a lot to the table: experience, stability, maturity, and a strong work ethic are just the beginning.
5. Determine what you need. Do you need additional credentials? Should you go back to school? Are you up to speed on technology? To be productive in an “encore career” or even in a volunteer capacity, you may need to beef up your skill set.
As Baby Boomers, we may also need to get in line for a reality check. “Encore careers” are often not as lucrative as our previous career. If you’re holding out for a similar job to the one where you made six figures, you may be in for a long wait. The good news is that you may not really need to have the income you previously enjoyed. Now that the kids are (hopefully) out of the house and many of your bigger expenditures are behind you, that part-time work, volunteer work, working with a non-profit, or mentoring opportunity may be just what the financial doctor ordered. Some examples of growing career segments that are actively seeking more mature workers consist of education, healthcare, and retail.
So don’t despair Baby Boomer, we still have much to do and more to offer. It’s once again time to chase change and innovate.
Best to you,
Should you have a story about how you've reinvented your career, found employment, reworked your finances or enhanced your skill set, please leave me a message in the comment section so we can all help each other!