Tuesday, February 03, 2009

"What's Next in Your Life" site offers pointers for would-be retirees, as young as 50; average retirement age is younger than we think


A story (“When planning retirement, money is not the whole story”) reprinted on p F4 (Health) in The Washington Post today, Feb. 3, 2009, by Jane Glenn Haas from the Orange County Register, discusses a site called “What’s Next in your Life”, link here.

The site requires free registration and takes you on “quick trips” through some choices, including “work after 50”. The trips take survey questions and then present various other resources and links. The questions on self-employment tend to be the usual ones about business plans, investors, and exit strategies. The quick trip does present ownership of a franchise as a possibility.

The site suggests that seniors should try to do what they will be passionate about, but there is a tendency for most “second career” options to require heavy networking and social connections. Learning to use social networking (and professional networking) sites properly can be a plus.

The news story about the site made some interesting points. It says that the average retirement age in the United States in now 63, which is two or three years before what Social Security defines as full retirement age. It says that continuation of full time work at the same income will add an eventual 6% a year of retirement income for every year so worked.

It says that less than 25% of workers 55 and older have accumulated $250000 in net worth, and most do not have $100000.

Changes in earned entitlement programs will almost certainly necessitate raising the typical retirement age, and considerably.

The article discusses the practical problem of the “sandwich generation”: upper middle aged people or sometimes people even in their 60s with grown “boomerang” children who may still need lifts with college and graduate school, and with aging parents at the same time.

Ms Haas has an older “OC” column from June 11, 2007, “New concept for boomer retirement: freedom to work,” link here. The more current story (today) was not yet online.

Abigail Trafford has a story in the The Washington Post Health Section, Feb. 3, p HE06, “My Time: Now You're Talking: Fear Plus Rage Can Lead to Action”, link here. Trafford had written that there needed to be a call to invite the “Grand Generation” to help rebuild the nation’s “social infrastructure” – although (I think) older people who did not have their own children may want to go their own way with less socialized ventures. We have a perfect storm, of people living longer and losing their first careers earlier. She has a book “My Time: Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life” from 2003 (Basic Books). Social connections for single retirees could become a major economic stumbling block.

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