Can baby boomers afford to retire?
Image by MinnPost.com
My best friend is 77 years old. He doesn’t qualify as a baby boomer and yet he shares some of their concerns. The house he bought 10 years ago — he was working in Central America as a lay missionary before returning to the U.S., no longer can offer him the nest egg he imagined would be left as equity.
The housing bubble burst 3 years ago, leaving millions of about-to-retire couples without the safety net of accrued home value. My friend bought his house for $150,000 in 1998 and saw its market value reach $200,000 in 2002. Today, the best he could get is around $90,000, not enough to cover what he still owes (the first 10 years of mortgage payments cover mostly interest).
As a retired teacher (for 15 years), my friend receives approximately $2,800 a month, including his meager Social Security check. His wife has suffered from several aneurysms requiring extensive surgery. Even with Medicare, his co-pay runs into the thousands of dollars which he is paying little by little. He cannot live on his retirement check alone, so he has started to cover absent teachers as a substitute. But you would think that he deserves the peace of retiring with a decent income.
How Some Baby Boomers Are Planning Their Retirement Years
Many baby boomers, like my friend, cannot afford to retire when they hit 65; they trusted that the booming housing market would provide them with a nice nest egg once they sell their home to get some liquidity. Instead, they’ve recently discovered that buyers are scarce and that the real estate value of their homes have plummeted. As a consequence, many older people are doing what my friend, an ex-teacher, is doing; they are looking for work well into their sixties.
So the point here is that for those of us thinking about the twilight of our lives, planning for retirement may very well involve how we should plan to earn an income well into our senior years in order to supplement the benefits we receive from our pensions or from our government. As it is, our savings and investments have been impacted greatly by the U.S. financial crisis and the recent stock market meltdown — so what can we do to keep ourselves afloat?
How Baby Boomers Can Earn Extra Income
Well, be prepared to see more baby boomers and seniors continuing their terms in the work force and deferring retirement. A piece by US News and World Report says that, “Retail jobs are the most common occupation for workers 65 or older, according to an Urban Institute analysis to be released later this month.” The figure is followed closely by farmers and managers of retail businesses.
The good thing is that many companies prefer older people because they are more trustworthy. If you have a special skill, e.g., business management, construction, teaching, engineering and the like, you should have no problem with getting a job, training other people or working as a consultant. Look at the median age on the CBS program 60 minutes; it must be well above 70.
Tip: If you intend to search for a job and you are over 50, make sure you learn how to be interviewed. Talking with a recruiter who is younger than you requires certain skills. Don’t come across as condescending toward the interviewer, or you’ll kiss your chances goodbye. Tell him/her what it is that you can bring to the company, thanks to your experience. Try out these job hunting tips as well; hopefully they’ll be of help.
Or perhaps you would prefer to work at home, as I do. Well, generational friends, you’d better start learning about computers, because that’s where the money is to be made. My mother learned how to use e-mail at the spry young age of 90; I believe that anybody can do it!
If you’re a senior who’s caught in this predicament, the key is to find work that you enjoy doing and to keep a positive attitude. Hopefully it won’t take way too long before the markets recover and help make up for the losses we’ve experienced in recent years. If you’re able to hang on to some work or if you’re able to start a business, receive extra income plus cut costs at the same time, you may find that your altered plans during your retirement years aren’t as bad as they may seem. In some respects, work gives us a reason to get out of bed and affords some meaning to our existence.