Are Baby Boomers Still Retiring?

Last week I read an article on WSJ about baby boomers ripping up their retirement plan.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans between the ages of 45 and 60 say they plan to delay retirement, according to a report to be released Friday by the Conference Board. That was a steep jump from just two years earlier, when the group found that 42% of respondents expected to put off retirement.

The increase was driven by the financial losses, layoffs and income stagnation sustained during the last few years of recession and recovery, said Gad Levanon, director of macroeconomic research at the organization and a co-author of the report, which is based on a 2012 survey of 15,000 individuals.

Pretty scary, no? It’s very depressing, especially when you have been told all your life, retirement is the dream! The ability to check out from the 9 to 5, and not have to worry about anything.

In my team, I am currently working with 4 colleagues who are 50+. Thus, in my mind they should be planning for retirement since it’s only ten years away. When I asked them what their plan for retirement is, every single one of them said they can’t retire in the next ten years. They are probably looking at retiring in 15-20 years maybe!!!

These are category managers and directors who make more than $150K a year minimum, saying they can’t retire. What did they do wrong?

Oftentimes, I find most people can’t retire because they have an extensive lifestyle: driving around in Land Rovers, living in 5,000 square feet when there’s only two people, supporting kids in adult years, not saving enough, or making poor investment choices. One of the category managers lost most of her nest egg when her company went bankrupt. She had heavily invested most of her retirement in company stock (warning!).

Should we feel sorry for the baby boomers that can’t retire? It’s hard for me to say since I see most of them living in riches. At least where I live at, which is a upper middle class suburban area.

I did have a chance to meet a older man the other day on my way to the parking garage who said he will be retiring in 622 days! He and his wife will split their time between their homes in Hawaii and Canada. He worked for 29 years at one company, and then worked the next ten years at our company. His joy over retirement gave me hope! I’m glad one baby boomer is retiring. I have met other baby boomers that retired: a couple of my university professors retired and then taught for fun, one of my mentors retired at 55, and is now a consultant when he wants to be.

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to retire young. I will bear the responsibility of taking care of my parents in their elder years since they have no retirement plan, which means I will have to work. Until LBJ signed the social security act, extending benefits past FDR’s timeline, kids took care of their parents. Now, we have become so individualistic, we expect our parents to take care of themselves and sometimes us too!

Our generation will see a different retirement landscape: no pension plans and no social security. If you ever want to retire, make sure you are preparing for it financially every year, or have kids that will take care of you when you are old. Don’t expect society to take care of your retirement needs.

13 responses to “Are Baby Boomers Still Retiring?

  1. As someone who has true boomer parents, I can say that most of the people I’ve personally seen are NOT living extravagant lifestyles. I grew up in a very middle class areas of Detroit. Here is another thing that happens. My friend’s parents lived very modestly raising three girls and had a very tight budget. One of their girls got cancer in her lat e 30’s so so much of their retirement went into helping her with her bills, and she HAD insurance. Life is just like that. Messy and unpredictable. For me I’m not living an extravagant life either, but with the layoff 4 years ago, my retirement contributions halted, and even though I’m contributing, it’s still so little that it scares me. And I’m of course 42. The flip side is also that I don’t’ have this traditional 9-5 job and even if I get one of those along the way, I still think there is a way to earn income though various means even when you are “retired,” and I don’t just mean investment properties and that sort of thing. I mean the world is open to possibilities for home based business, so it’s not going to be the same for future generations I don’t think. At least that is some positive news.

    • It sucks when bad stuff happens. My parents may not have to take care of me, but I definitely will be helping them, which trumps any early retirement dreams for me, unless I win the lottery. -on a side note- I have never bought a lottery ticket. Maybe I should clarify and say should we feel bad for the people who complain about not being able to retire when they clearly are still living an extravagant lifestyle?

  2. I’m at the tail end of being a boomer and I can honestly say that I don’t think I will be able to retire until I’m in my 70’s. My plan is to pay off the debt, see the kids through college and then do a career change to something that I love to do but pays a lot less (Recreational Scuba). I’ve managed to put save and invest enough to have some decent asset to help financially when this happens but I’m not uber-wealthy.

  3. at my job, people can retire at 55. we have three people who are eligible to reitre and haven’t. one has two kids who just started college, another one her husband was unemployed for a while , and the third, who makes $150,000 a year, is just single and doesn’t have anything better to do than work. I keep waiting for them to leave (i don’t care for any of them) and they don’t!!

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  5. Glad to hear I’m not the only one who will likely be taking care of older parents… My parents have zero financial plans and massive debts. I still hope to retire young, but it is not going to be easy.

    • My parents don’t have debt and are actually very frugal. But they came to the US as immigrants, low income immigrants at that. My parents actually were professionals in their country, but their country went through a depression/recession in the 90s and they decided to come to the US to seek a better life. They haven’t had any choices or education on retirement.

      Sometimes it’s hard to explain to people why my parents made their choice. Especially Americans. How could they have left their professional jobs in their home country to come to the us to work in a factory or clean houses/hotels. The sad part is that their life in their home country was economically worse despite the fact they had gone to college. Maybe my parents weren’t politically savvy and allied themselves with the right people. EIther way I along with my brother will have to take care of them.
      It’s actually something my husband and I butt heads on constantly.

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