Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sandwich generation enters retirement years and feels pinch of recession (USA Today)

Christine Dugas has a story today in the “21st Century Retirement” column of the “Money” section of USA Today, on Wednesday June 17, “For boomers, recession is redefining retirement: New reality: work more, spend less”, link here.

The story, early on, mentions the “sandwich generation”: boomers providing for teenage kids entering college, and at the same time caring for parents who live longer, often with significant disability, than was common for past generations.

Add to that the recession and financial crisis: our whole culture lived beyond its means, and built in some systemic risks that came crashing down, most visibly in the housing and mortgage areas.

That led to my comment yesterday: while recognizing the touching personal stories often presented in the media, we have to step back and realize that we have some big public policy choices to make.

The USA Today story has a chart “belted by the fall” showing the loss in retirement savings between January 2008 and May 2009. Surprisingly, age 61 to 65 fared better, probably because seniors tend to be more conservative and cautious and tended to have less exposed investments. (My own loss was in that range, and some of it has recovered in the past two months, since the new administration came in.) Younger workers have time to make up losses in “Suze Orman” style with dollar cost averaging and should continue to invest in as diversified a manner as possible for their own retirement.

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