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Overcoming the Baby Boomer Retirement Crisis

Life expectancy continues to grow, and retirement is increasingly being postponed. Plan for the years ahead with a solid plan and budget.

Baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, are beginning to come into their retirement years, however, a trend is emerging. Many are working longer and postponing retirement. According to statistics gathered by a recent Willis Towers Watson survey:

  • 25% of Americans plan to work past the age of 70
  • 33% are postponing their retirement indefinitely.

There are a few possible reasons for this trend.

Longevity

Baby boomers were the first generation of the modern era that took the time to focus on health and wellness. Perhaps this is one reason that life expectancy has increased by > 5 years over previous generations.

Health insurance

If fortunate enough to work for employers that pay all or most of their insurance expenses, staying at a job for as long as possible is a no-brainer.

Responsibility of adult children

Boomerang kids; a fun name for a not so joyful phenomenon that this generation has experienced in increasing numbers. The slowing economy coupled with record unemployment has forced many adults to move back in with their parents. While this can be a comfort to aging parents who need the help or attention, for many, operating a multigenerational household can create feelings of added responsibility or even burden.

Greater debt

A 2015 report on household debt revealed that Baby Boomers are carrying unprecedented amounts of debt.

Compared to 2003 borrowers 65 and older have:

  • 47% greater mortgage debt
  • 29% greater auto debt

Student loans are a category of debt that Baby Boomers are experiencing more of than previous generations of the same age.

Fear

The idea of outliving your retirement savings can be a very motivating factor for many Baby Boomers. “Retirement security” isn’t just a financial buzzword, it is something of a specter for an increasing number of individuals who understand that continuing to work is the only way to overcome inadequate savings.

“Although their financial situation has improved over the past few years, many workers remain worried about their long-term financial stability,” Steven Nyce, Senior Economist for Willis Towers Watson.

Crisis

The statistics tell of an upcoming crisis and one that isn’t easy to solve. For generations, worries over the viability of government retirement in the form of social security have been a concern. Studies show that 70% of working Americans do not believe that they will ever receive a single payout from the system they currently pay into, yet 1 out of 3 Americans have $0 retirement savings.

Solutions

Investopedia.com offers a few “catch up” tactics.

  • Fund your 401(k) to the max
  • Contribute to a Roth IRA
  • Build equity in your home
  • Look into long-term care and disability coverages that may be available to you, inexpensively, while you’re in good health.

Home equity can be a fallback source of income during your later years. If you are upside-down or have little chance of building equity over the next few years, you must consider downsizing. The money savings can go into your retirement account and with a smaller mortgage; investment will build faster.

Baby Boomers who have done little retirement planning are at a disadvantage, certainly. However, it is not an impossible obstacle to overcome for individuals with a willingness to budget and plan.

About the Author

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Lorraine Ell

CEO and Senior Financial Advisor

As the CEO and co-owner of Better Money Decisions (B$D) Lorraine is excited to help others solve challenging financial problems. For those experiencing dramatic change such as divorce, retirement, or the loss of a loved one she is a dedicated advisor and acts as equal parts investment manager, financial planner, coach, and personal guide. It’s her mission to help families lead their best financial lives.

Author of the book, Bozos, Monsters and Whiz-bangs: Bad advice From Financial Advisors and How to Avoid it!, Lorraine is also frequently quoted in MarketWatch, Investment News, Investor’s Business Daily, Yahoo Finance, and The Wall Street Journal.

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