A lot of us boomers have some of the last old school retirement plans. Defined benefits that you can rely on are huge. Even smaller pensions, if you can rely on them, are extremely valuable. The good news is that those of us with such plans probably won’t starve. The bad news is that the retirement promoted in the brochures doesn’t fit the reality.
The big issue is health. When people are socking away money, scrimping and saving, they think of those healthy looking older people walking on sunny beaches. That does happen. What happens more often is that instead of beaches you are more concerned about good doctors and hospital access. You aren’t taking a lot walks on the beach when in the middle of chemotherapy for cancer. Even some of my healthy looking friends are dealing with diabetes and other conditions. It’s not uncommon to be taking handfuls of medications every day.
Another big issues is the age difference between spouses. I’ve buddies who’ve retired but their spouses still have another seven or eight years to work. By they time their partners retire they’ll be well into their 70s . . . or dead. Who knows? For some they have plenty of other things to do before their partner’s retire. Others just don’t know what to do with themselves. Many end up going back to work just to keep busy.
That’s another issue: some people have no lives outside of work. When they retire they lose their whole identity. No one in the retirement park cares that you were a big wheel in the Midget Widget Company. These people are lost.
It’s funny the number of people who retire and think they have to either by an RV or go on a cruise -maybe both. They might not even be all that interested in doing it but because it’s someone else’s dream they think they should do those things. Once they do them they can feel kinda let down and then they have to figure out what’s next.
Do what you actually want to do. A former classmate just took an early retirement. He’s doing something he’s wanted to do for some time. He bought a comfortable chair and put in a quite room far from electronics. That’s his place to read books in peace. That’s the big thing he never had time to do while working.
There are young people today who know the boomer retirement won’t be there for them. With that in mind they are enjoying life now. If that involves a spotty work record and less savings, so what? You can do a lot more things at 30 than 70. Money does not buy youth and energy. Those people see that even the “good” boomer retirements have downsides. Often it’s working 40 years in a job you hate for people you don’t respect.
In the end it’s not about retirement, jobs, or money -it’s about life and living.