by Ann Robson
We don’t often hear the words “baby boomer” and “retirement” in the same sentence. But we’ll be hearing them combined more and more as the last few years, the early boomers have reached retirement age.
Baby boomers are entering quite a new stage of life. They are now part of the retired demographic. They may still be the dynamic group they once were—the people who took on the world and dealt with anything that came their way. Retirement was a long way off and they didn’t give it much thought. Then, suddenly reality set in. If they thought about retirement, it was usually some wonderful new life, in an area with a perfect climate, and there were all the amenities of life—good shopping, wonderfully safe neighborhoods and perhaps sites for operas, concerts and theater.
The choices are endless—smaller, modern homes or perhaps a boat in which to live and tour the world, or a recreational vehicle that would serve as a home on wheels and endless travel would be possible.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? At some point, reality has to settle in. Real money is necessary for all lifestyles, from simple to extravagant. A lot of retirees will tell you that their biggest worry is whether they will outlive their funds. As we are living longer, we have more bills to pay. Medical costs seem to be increasing at an alarming rate. Low interest rates mean your nest egg is not growing as fast as you might need.
So what are boomers to do? Some are choosing to work past retirement age and delay taking Social Security for a few years. Yet, debt is growing. A recent study found that only 25 percent of retirees are debt-free. Misconceptions about Social Security providing a living income coupled with the fact that fewer and fewer companies are paying any sort of pension often come as a shock to newly retired people.
Planning ahead is still the best answer for a long, comfortable retirement. For many, such planning happens too late or not at all. There are many financial planners out there who may be able to help. Like any other major financial decision, do some research about planners. A friend who has already retired and is enjoying life is your best source of information. While starting early to plan for retirement is best, it’s never too late to get some help.
Retirement can be the best stage of your life. You are your own boss, and if you choose to play golf on a Tuesday, you don’t need permission from anyone, except perhaps your spouse. If you have a lifelong dream of becoming a painter, a writer, a wood carver, a quilt maker, you now have time to pursue many things.
One of the most rewarding retiree activities is volunteering. We each have something to give to others. It is rewarding to see a smile on someone’s face, because you helped them. So often, retirees feel they are no longer needed. Volunteering will change your mind.
If you’re one of the thousands getting ready for retirement, you still have lots of life ahead. Enjoy it! You’ll eventually ask yourself, “How did I have time to work?”
Robson is the author of “Over My Shoulder: Tales of Life and Death and Everything In Between.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org