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When do you want to retire?
Date, Year
by Brian Wolf

I believe that the traditional retirement is being “re-defined” by baby boomers. As a group, they have been known for breaking the rules and replacing them with rules that work for them. So why should retirement be any different?

It turns out that a big percentage of Baby Boomers have decided that they will never “retire.” More specifically, they expect to always be working on something. It just may be a different role than what they did for a career.

Recently, MarketWatch had a great article on this. In the article, it states that fully 72 percent of baby boomers want to work in retirement. That’s certainly not their parents’ retirement!

The 72 percent of people aged 50 and over who have not yet retired say they want to work in retirement, and almost half of the current retirees said they have worked, or will work, according to a new study by Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Age Wave, a consulting and research firm.

Those pre-retirees didn’t say they’ll “need” to work; they said they want to. And 80 percent of retirees over age 50 who are currently working said they’re working because they want to. Just 20 percent of working retirees said they’re holding down a job because they need the money, according to the survey of 1,856 working retirees and about 5,000 pre-retirees and non-working retirees.

Maybe more Americans, aware that funding two to three decades of retirement leisure is a challenging prospect, are optimistically embracing the idea that some type of work in retirement makes sense.

“Not working, that was for my parent’s generation,” said one focus-group participant quoted in the study. “I can’t imagine not doing anything for 30 years. Nor could I afford to.”

Money isn’t the only reason to consider a retirement job. For pre-retirees “staying mentally active” and “the money” were tied as the top two reasons for working in retirement, but among retirees who had a job, 62 percent said it was “to stay mentally active,” while just 31 percent said it was for the money.

Also, in general, working retirees are likelier to say they are proud, connected to others, and stimulated.

Sixty-seven percent of working retirees versus 57 percent of non-working retirees reported feeling proud. Sixty-two percent of working retirees versus 45 percent of non-working retirees said they’re connected to others.

Of course, hidden in these numbers is a big percentage of people who I believe will really have no choice. Boomers are notoriously poor savers. I can honestly say that the vast majority of people that I talk with want to retire, but they have to plan on working longer in order to meet the lifestyle that they want. It seems to be the same whether you have a big portfolio or not. Everyone seems to simply adjust to the lifestyle that their paycheck provides them, and nobody wants to reduce that in retirement.

Nevertheless, retirement is changing in front of our very eyes. We’ll see where it brings us as a country and how it will affect generations to come.

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