When I was growing up I saw my Dad getting dressed up in his suit and tie everyday and going to work. The idea was that this would continue for many, many years until he reached the unbelievably old age of sixty-five and then he would retire. Mom and Dad would take to their rocking chairs together, putter around in the yard and live happily ever after. I guess I got this idea from the TV shows I watched in the fifties and the sixties.
Of course real life had something to say about this notion. My Dad died when he was fifty-seven years old leaving my Mom with three teenagers still at home. My parents never had the chance to get to their golden years with a comfortable retirement. Luckily, my Mom had seven children that could help her make her way through life, despite a stroke twenty years ago, to her present age of ninety-three.
What I have learned as a grown up, though, is that a comfortable retirement at the age of sixty-five is also becoming a thing of the past. My Mom has certainly outlived any retirement money that she had. My husband’s parents would like to move into an assisted living situation with more on site help. However, with real estate losing so much of its value over the last few years, there is now a question as to whether their present home will sell, and if it does, will it sell for enough money to support them through the number of years they will need.
Is there really any way of insuring that there is enough money to last us as long as we live? Our life expectancy continues to climb as our nest eggs have taken a great financial hit. Many baby boomers are looking at the fact that retirement is not even in the picture. World News reports that 40% of baby boomer women are single with little or no savings, pensions, or 401k plans to see them through retirement. They will work as long as they can or as long as their companies will have them. My husband and I are beginning to think in terms of a small business that will bring in some sort of revenue stream for our future. We have friends and family members that have lost their jobs and are looking at job websites for people over fifty, trying to find those industries that are friendly to those of us over fifty or sixty.
We are an industrious group, us baby boomers. For us, retirement was this mythological thing way off in the future. We would set the world on fire and still be ready for anything when we reached the age of sixty-five. I don’t think that our idea of retirement ever was sitting around in our rocking chairs and doing nothing. But, hell, we would at least like the option.