‘So, when are you going to retire, Bill?’
As a Baby Boomer and the husband of a wife who now has been retired three-quarters of a year, I often am asked the question, “So, when are you considering retiring?”
I suppose my answer depends on the day. Some days, it would be easy to answer, “Tomorrow.” Others, I really don’t know. Thus, I am leaving all my options open.
I am at the age where retirement could be whenever. And, like many others my age, I wonder what the future holds for me.
So I read with interest an Associated Press report this past week that revealed a growing number of people (in this instance, one in four) have no desire to retire, despite their age. AP reporters using the services of a polling company specializing in public affairs research discovered that two in 10 workers older than 50 have no intention of retiring. Another 25 % of those polled said they would continue working beyond their 65th birthday.
Yesterday, a good friend in the business retired.
Earlier this year, another well-liked and respected peer put away his ink and newsprint. Both men were my go-to friends whom I knew I could always count on in thick and thin. Today, I kind of feel like the last of the three stooges. Yet, despite that feeling, I am not going to rush to the Social Security office next week and sign up for benefits.
Obviously, the answer to the question of when to retire is a personal one and varies because of circumstances. But the poll did touch upon many interesting realities, including:
∫ Technological advances in medicine and health care mean people, on average, are living longer. Thus, more money is going to be needed in retirement to cover living expenses.
∫ Today, most people retiring do not have a pension, unlike retirees in the past. In 1975, 88% of all private-sector employees had a pension, says the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. That’s fallen to just 33% today. Most people today have a 401(k)-type plan at their place of work, and the amount in that plan depends on the level of contributions the employee made into it over the years.
∫ Most Baby Boomers retiring today have witnessed two major recessions in the midst of their working careers, when they traditionally would have been saving and investing in stocks and bonds. The losses from those experiences have left many in either a poor financial situation today, or else fearful that in their retirement more financial gloom could impact their remaining funds.
I do have some pretty strong thoughts and observations about three things surrounding the retirement question.
First, politicians need to do everything in their power to protect Social Security. That should never ever go away, as too many people depend on it, and paid into it, to have it eroded in any shape or form.
Second, there needs to be a “passing of the torch” from one generation to the next, and Baby Boomers need to find a way to transition out of current jobs into something else, so that the better and high-paying jobs in the marketplace can be filled by those who need them most.
Third, those of us in our 60s and older still have much to contribute to this marketplace. Just like President Franklin Roosevelt did with the Works Progress Administration after the Great Depression, I believe we need to create in this country incentives to put older Americans into roles and jobs that would complement our economy and help repair our aging infrastructure. Those who wanted to work could while those who didn’t need to work wouldn’t have to.
As for me, continue looking for this column in this space for at least 542 days, 21 hours and 13 minutes.
Then again, who’s counting?
Bill Speer can be reached at 989-354-3111, ext. 311, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @billspeer13.