My father-in-law retired at age 55. He then spent over 35 years enjoying his retirement life by playing golf, tending to his gladiolas, and eating pork chops with potato chips. He could do this because he planned and saved for retirement.
Today, many people won’t be able to enjoy the same kind of retirement my father-in-law had. In fact, I’m certain that I won’t have the same kind of retired life he did. For some, the Great Recession dwindled – or eliminated – retirement savings. And the current discussions about changes to Social Security and Medicare…well, are making folks nervous.
That’s why I was particularly interested when I ran across this report from The Conference Board titled “Delaying Retirement” [PDF]. While the report is a few years old, I don’t know that the dynamics have changed much. And the report does offer some perspective about the extent that the Great Recession impacted families and their post-work savings.
For example, the report says that households’ net worth dropped from $66 trillion during the peak of the recession in 2007 to $48.5 trillion in 2009. That’s a pretty big chunk of change. Which explains why parents moved in with their adult kids and started rethinking when and how they plan to retire.
From a work perspective, the decisions being made to delay retirement are giving companies a little bit of a reprieve. Several years ago, HR pros were all running around like Chicken Little talking about the Boomers retiring and the impending labor shortage. Now Boomers are delaying and redefining retirement. So, the sky isn’t falling…yet.
But make no mistake, all of the Boomers will retire at some point. Some are already retired and others are making plans right now. They’re figuring out what the new normal is for their retired life. They’re getting comfortable with the changes they need to make in both their personal and professional lives.
While I initially read The Conference Board report as a human resources professional with the need to develop a workforce plan, I’m now looking at this retirement data differently – from the perspective of a person considering retirement. What lessons can I learn? You can grab a copy of the report here [PDF]. It’s well worth your time to understand the retirement dynamic and how it will potentially impact you.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby at the Neon Sign Graveyard in Las Vegas, NV