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Retirement Challenges for Baby Boomers

Nearly 80 million boomers are now reaching retirement age, and they make up nearly one-fourth of the U.S. population. The oldest of this group are likely contemplating retirement, or have already done so. Roughly 10,000 a day qualify for Social Security payments, and many of them have done a poor job in preparing for the years that are still ahead of them.

The question is, why haven't they planned? Thirty-four percent of older Boomers said that they did not understand the process while 39% said they didn't have money to invest in their future. Also, sometimes circumstances arise that cause a change in the plans they have for their lives. Half of those boomers retiring don't retire by choice. Instead, conditions such as a disability or other health issue develops, preventing them from being able to work, or the death of a loved one causes their priorities to shift, company layoffs, or downsizing cause them to end their career earlier than planned. And in an economy where many companies are hiring younger, cheaper labor vs. the experienced employee who could command a higher salary, it can be hard in these cases to make up that lost income.

The main problem in retirement planning is procrastination, and with many Boomers not addressing their concerns about retirement until they reach their 50's, they get dangerously close to a point where it may be too late to achieve their goals, which requires them to make difficult decisions. These can be decisions such as "Do we downsize our house, work longer than we planned, downgrade our lifestyle, or try to find part time work during retirement?"

The Employment Benefit Research Institute reports that 35% of those of retirement age are almost totally dependent on Social Security Benefits for income, and only half of the remaining 65% have retirement savings of $50,000 or more. Most individuals underestimate what they will need or want to live on in retirement. There are costs for basic necessities that will continue to increase even after they retire, such as gas, food, taxes, insurance, utilities, etc. and this causes a surprise when they realize how much they will have to supplement above what Social Security provides them. This puts them in a difficult position while they're in an age bracket that makes it hard to earn a decent income, enabling them to bridge the gap in their income needs.

So do your future self a HUGE favor, and don't put off planning for retirement. Whether your concerns are outliving your money, or protecting your estate from an unforeseen health issue in your retirement years that could decimate your savings, or ensuring your lifestyle through retirement, you have options. But you have to start the planning process now to take advantage of them. Otherwise you might find yourself at a point where your options are limited or even eliminated, and you have to make decisions that you never wanted to make.

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