“This job is going to kill me.” If you’ve ever uttered those words, then you won’t be thrilled with the results of a recent poll from the Associated Press and LifeGoesStrong. com. It appears that 73 percent of us boomers are preparing to work past age 65, an increase from 67 percent this spring.
I admit I’m “in the group,” worried—no make that “really worried”—that the economic funk has no hope of easing any time soon. Between depressed housing prices, unemployment and a stock market deserving of its own heart-pounding roller-coaster thrill ride at SixFlags, it’s easy to be pessimistic.
What to do? Work longer and save more by “cutting back,” says retirement expert Olivia Mitchell. And for how long? After all, most of us didn’t think we’d still be facing the recession music now. Mitchell says brace for another five years of a “downscaled consumer society.”
Back to the poll: Forty-one percent of us boomers said we expect to have to scale back our lifestyle in some way in retirement and a third of us believe we will struggle financially, just like many are already struggling.
In all, AP reported that 62 percent of boomers polled lost money on at least one of four core parts of retirement savings:
—A workplace retirement savings plan, 42 percent.
—Personal investments outside of an IRA/workplace savings, 41 percent.
—An IRA (individual retirement account), 32 percent.
—Real estate, 29 percent.
Retirement: an asset
If on the other hand, you live to work, you’re set. For many boomers, the thought of rising bright n’ early each day with no tangible goals and objectives is tantamount to an early death sentence. I can’t imagine not having my list of “to dos”: I’d feel lost, without purpose, although I often wish for “just a little break” from the seven-day rigors of my current professional existence. How about you?
The literature is mixed that assesses whether retiring early is beneficial or detrimental for your health, as reported in October by economist and mathematician Presh Talwalker. In his blog, Mind Your Decisions, he analyzed seven studies that contradicted each other. A 2009 German study concludes, however, that retirement is an asset for healthy people. Additionally, says Talwalker: “For people in poor health, retirement is a necessity that filters them out of the workforce. For people in good health, retirement is a PROTECTIVE force that shields them from the stress of work.”
It’s not about numbers, but about quality of life: your life. You can make it “work.”