The media has long been abuzz with the numerous ways retirement is different for Baby Boomers. But if you’re among this group—who revolutionized our world and made massive contributions to medicine, science, and technology—the realities of a different retirement may hit much harder. The good news is that, even though retirement has become more difficult in many ways, Baby Boomers also have access to a bevy of programs their parents could only dream about. If you’re over 62 and own your home, you can tap into its equity to get tax-free money that you might never have to pay back. Reverse mortgages and similar programs can offer significant financial relief, so talk to your financial planner about your retirement options. You might be surprised by how many there are!
Saving Every Penny
Older generations often relied on pensions, but with the economic catastrophe of the early 2000s, many Baby Boomers saw an end to pensions. Some even experienced the near total elimination of their savings. Baby Boomers are the first generation to have to save every penny they intend to use in retirement, without relying on employers. The result is that Baby Boomers have more in savings (around $130,000) than any previous generation, but still may not have enough to comfortable retire.
Longer Lives, Better Health
The average Baby Boomer who retires in his or her 60s can expect a retirement of up to 30 years, thanks in part to better health and longer life expectancies. While everyone wants to live longer, longer lives can put a serious drain on financial resources, making it difficult for Baby Boomers to discern how much they will need and avoid running out of money in retirement.
Financial demands coupled with better health mean that many Baby Boomers are working longer. For some, this is a product of necessity—a few extra years’ work can mean a lot more socked away in savings. But Baby Boomers are also aging differently than their parents, remaining adventurous and active well into their seventies and eighties. For some Baby Boomers, retirement means getting old, so the desire to keep working is a way to beat Father Time.
A housing bubble, rising educational costs, the demands of caring for aging parents and boomerang children, and exorbitant health care costs have all conspired to produce an unpleasant side effect: larger debts. About a quarter of Baby Boomers continue to make mortgage payments in retirement, and many carry some form of debt, including credit card debt. Because interest rates on debt typically exceed investment interest rates, this debt can quickly knock out even the most promising of retirement nest eggs.
Some analysts have referred to Baby Boomers as the sandwich generation. This generation is increasingly juggling the needs of children who move back home amid a struggling economy and the demands of aging parents who made need extensive nursing care. This financially taxing caregiver role can exhaust even the most energetic spirits, and leaves many Baby Boomers wondering if there is ever such as thing as enough money saved for retirement.