This article “Time to Retire the Idea of Retirement” By Gil Weinreich at ThinkAdvisor is a great summary about the siren’s song about consumerism and the effect that has on actually being able to retire.
Weinreich discusses how we are living longer and the resources we saved are woefully inadequate to sustain a consumption based standard of living.
He goes on to discuss alternatives such as living in some other country where the cost of living is much less than here. If you are unaccustomed to travel, that’s a problem among other issues this “solution” ignores such as property ownership, banking laws as a result of the global recession and counter drug efforts, taxation and health care. This is not a direct criticism of his attempt to address the problem, simply being pragmatic.
Continuing to work is another option. However, plans and expectations are often WAY off the mark as the Employee Benefit Research Institute continually finds year after year:
“One reason for this gap between workers’ expectations and retirees’ experiences of retirement age is that many Americans find themselves retiring unexpectedly. The RCS has consistently found that a large percentage of retirees leave the work force earlier than planned (47 percent in 2013), and many retirees who retired earlier than planned cite negative reasons for doing so, including health problems or disabilities (55 percent), changes at their companies, such as downsizing or closure (20 percent), or having to care for spouses or other family members (23 percent). Others say changes in the skills required for their jobs (9 percent) or other work-related reasons (20 percent) played a role. Some retirees do mention positive reasons for retiring early, such as being able to afford an earlier retirement (32 percent) or wanting to do something else (19 percent), but just 7 percent offer only positive reasons.” 2013 Retirement Confidence Surveys. Issue Brief • March 2013 • ebri.org (“The 2013 Retirement Confidence Survey: Perceived Savings Needs Outpace Reality for Many”)
If baby boomers continue to work, the unintended consequence is to crowd out the productivity through lost employment opportunities of the younger generation behind through a the ripple effect (people lower on the rung move up as those on higher rungs leave). This isn’t meant to be a jab at the productivity of the older worker, simply stating that one action leads to another consequence. So does the older generation ask the younger generation to lower their standard of living so that the older ones can sustain what may be unsustainable?
Moral of the story: no simple solutions on a societal level. Productivity of society is important because that is what retains the value of the global economy and markets (companies). At a personal level: Saving (investing) MORE into the global markets is important for two reasons: 1) people are under saving … so saving more directly improves this issue, and dynamically this means 2) saving more reduces your Standard of Individual Living … so you’ve reduced how much you need to save, through the very act of saving!