No Surprise: Experts Advise Boomers to Work Longer

MusingsNew year, new goals: If one of yours is retiring from your job, hold on just a minute. Well, make that three to six months.

A recent report entitled "The Power of Working Longer," issued by the National Bureau of Economic Research concludes the following: 

"...delaying retirement by 3-6 months has the same impact on the retirement standard of living as saving an additional one-percentage point of labor earnings for 30 years. The relative power of saving more is even lower if the decision to increase saving is made later in the work life. For instance, increasing retirement saving by one percentage point ten years before retirement has the same impact on the sustainable retirement standard of living as working a single month longer. The calculations of the relative power of working longer and saving more are done for a wide range of realized rates of returns on saving, for households with different income levels, and for singles as well as married couples. The results are quite invariant to these circumstances."

MarketWatch looked at the report and added the following analysis:

"So why does working longer have such an impact on the standard of living in retirement? Because it bolsters two types of retirement income — Social Security benefits and 401(k) withdrawals, the research says. The longer a person works, the longer Social Security is deferred, which means a higher benefit check. The worker’s 401(k) withdrawal will also be higher from more money in the account. Social Security makes up 81% of retirement income in this case, the researchers said, and 401(k) payments make up the rest."

Bottom line: If you've been thinking about retiring this year, maybe you should hold out just a little bit longer. Experts think it will make a significant difference when it comes to financing your retirement years.

Let Employment Statistics Be Your Guide

MusingsLike many Boomers, you may be in a transitional state in 2018 when it comes to employment. As you consider your work options, it may be wise to review some current employment statistics to get an idea of where opportunities exist. Entrepreneur magazine offers a handy infographic, based on data from Paychex, a leading payroll service, that looks at employment ages in the U.S. in states and industries.

Here are some interesting Boomer-oriented highlights from the data:

  • The five states with the highest percentage of workers 65 and older are, in descending order: South Dakota, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Washington, DC
  • About 23 percent of U.S. adults age 55 and older were working in 2016
  • The top five industries with the greatest percentage of workers 65 and older are, in descending order: Legal; Community and Social Service; Life, Physical and Social Science; Arts, Design, Entertainment and Social Media; Personal Care and Service
  • The top five states with the greatest percentage of MALE workers 65 and older are: Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, Kansas, Washington, DC
  • The top five states with the greatest percentage of FEMALE workers 65 and older are: New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington, DC, Connecticut, Hawaii
  • The three leading ways unemployed workers age 65 and older have attempted to enter the workforce are (1) contacted the employer directly, (2) sent out resumes or filled out applications, (3) contacted friends or relatives.

If you're looking for work, maybe some of these statistics can provide clues that point you in the right direction.


What Does 2018 Look Like for Retiring Boomers?

MusingsThe new year is upon us, and it starts with a booming stock market and major tax reform. Is this good news for retiring Boomers?

Retirement expert Mark Miller offers an excellent assessment in his article for Morningstar. He acknowledges that the stock market is at all-time high, but quotes wealth management advisor Michael Kitces, who says instead of withdrawing the traditional 6.5% from investment accounts, "it might be wiser for new retirees to just start with a lower initial rate of around 4%."

Miller also cautions that Social Security and Medicare, while they remain unchanged on the new tax law, could undergo some changes in the future. According to Miller, there is the possibility that the full benefit age for Social Security could eventually be raised to 69 from the current 66. It is already going up to 67 for those who were born in 1960 or later. 

Everything, it seems, has a positive and negative side. For example, with the Fed continuing to raise interest rates, low-risk investments such as CDs may benefit, but the cost of borrowing would go up. It is also a fact that those individuals entering retirement have more debt than ever before, in part because of home mortgages.

There is more to keep an eye on in 2018. Read Mark Miller's excellent article for more details... and consider subscribing to his highly informative e-newsletter, Retirement Revised.

For Some, Retirement and Work Don't Mix

MusingsAs much as we Boomers like to believe we have reinvented retirement, there are some forces we are pushing hard against with limited success. The reality of the American job market, lack of sufficient retirement savings, and other challenges are vexing for Boomers who want to work in their retirement years.

Each year for the past eighteen years, the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS) has a retirement survey of American workers. This year's survey results, published in December 2017, reveal some interesting and, in some cases, troubling attributes of aging Boomers. Some key findings of the survey:

  • Only 26 percent of Boomers plan to immediately stop working and retire when they reach what they consider to be retirement age. Already, two-thirds of them are working or plan to work past age 65 or do not plan to retire, and 54 percent plan to continue working after they retire.
  • 38 percent of Boomers expect Social Security to be their primary source of income when they retire, while 39 percent expect that primary source to be retirement savings.
  • The median savings of all household retirement accounts for Boomers is $164,000.
  • Only 42 percent of Boomers are keeping their skills up to date so they can continue to work past 65.
  • Only 28 percent of Boomers have a backup plan for retirement income if they're unable to work prior to their planned retirement.

Next Avenue's Richard Eisenberg did an excellent analysis of the survey with some pertinent comments from Catherine Collinson, the president of the TCRS, and helpful suggestions.

In addition to Boomers, the TCRS survey studied two other generations, Millennials and Gen Xers. You can get a copy of the survey results by downloading a PDF from the link below.

Download TCRS2017


Why Phased Retirement is Elusive

MusingsWill the new year be the time when you decide that you'd like to phase out of your full-time job? You can dream, but apparently, it isn't so easily done. While "phased retirement" sounds as if it would be a win-win for both employer and employee, the reality is that gradually phasing out of a full-time job is a concept most U.S. employers are not widely endorsing, at least not yet.

A recent article about phased retirement in U.S. News cites a sobering statistic: Only 6 percent of employers offer a formal phased retirement program. What's more, only 11 percent of Boomers gradually retired from their jobs, according to a 2017 Government Accountability Office report. The article goes on to discuss six challenges of phased retirement:

  1. Negotiating the arrangement
  2. Qualifying for health insurance
  3. A reduction in retirement benefits
  4. Getting a 401(k) match
  5. Unplanned phased retirement
  6. Justifying your reduced schedule.

Challenge number six gets to the heart of the matter. According to Emily Brandon, author of the article, "Those who want to gradually retire may need to prove their continued value by being a consistent high performer, staying up to date with innovations in the field and learning how to use new technology. It can help if you are willing to mentor younger employees and pass on your acquired skills and institutional knowledge."

What it really amounts to is convincing an employer that a phased retirement is not just good for you, but good for the company. Unless an employer believe you and enthusiastically embraces the idea, resigning may be the only real option to retiring from a full-time job.

Read the entire informative article here:


Channel Your Norman Lear

MusingsIn early December 2017, Norman Lear was a Kennedy Center Honoree at the 40th annual national celebration of the arts. While Norman Lear doesn't qualify as a Boomer (he was born in 1922), this comedic genius has undoubtedly had an impact on all of our lives. He is perhaps best known as the creator of the hit TV show, "All in the Family," which famously exposed the narrow-minded but hysterically funny logic of one Archie Bunker to viewers all across the country. That was not his only television breakthrough, however; Lear created such significant shows as "Maude," "Sanford and Son," "Good Times," and "The Jeffersons."

Lear did not restrict his expansive thinking to the entertainment business. He also founded the non-profit organization, People for the American Way, as well as the Business Enterprise Trust, the Norman Lear Center at the USC Annenberg School for Communication, and the Environmental Media Association. Along with his wife, Lear purchased one of the few surviving copies of the Declaration of Independence and then took it on a tour of all fifty states so Americans could see it. At the same time, he launched a nonpartisan youth voter initiative that accounted for registering over four million new young voters.

Lear published his autobiography, Even This I Get to Experience, in 2014. The book offers some insight into Lear's philosophy of life and how, despite his own challenges, he succeeded.

Norman Lear continues to be active and engaged at age 95. An iconoclast, he is always seen wearing his distinguishing trademark, a white hat (which he even wore to the Kennedy Center). Few of us can hope to achieve what Lear has accomplished (and is still accomplishing) in his lifetime, but what a great model for all Boomers. Lear demonstrates that advancing in age need not be a barrier to living a full life. 

The Benefits of Retiring in a College Town

MusingsIf you're considering a retirement relocation, it makes a lot of sense to consider a college town. The benefits of living in a college town are significant for retirees, among them:

  • Because of the student population, the town is bustling, lively, and youthful.
  • Restaurants, retail, and consumer services targeting students can be attractive to retirees as well.
  • College and university campuses are often cultural centers, featuring music, dance, theatre, lectures, museum exhibits, and excellent libraries.
  • Larger universities may have first-class hospitals and medical centers that provide quality healthcare.
  • Educational institutions often allow seniors to audit classes and sometimes enroll at no charge or a reduced tuition. Seniors can often make use of campus facilities as well.
  • Some institutions have OLLIs on campus. (OLLI is the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, an educational program for seniors; find a complete list of OLLI locations here: I can tell you from personal experience that OLLI is a great resource for seniors, both in terms of stimulating courses taught by your peers and social interactions and activities.
  • And, as retirement expert Kerry Hannon points out in her blog post, "Great Retirement Jobs in College Towns," colleges offer potential retirement job opportunities, such as adjunct professor, career center counselor, adviser, etc. Hannon notes that, out of the Forbes list of the twenty-five best places to retire, nine of them are college towns.

Thinking of a retirement relocation? Maybe you should think about a college town.


When Should You "Really" Retire?

MusingsI've written a lot about how Boomers are redefining retirement, often transforming it into a time of "rewirement" during which they turn the whole concept of retirement on its head. Rewirement might mean taking a new job unrelated to one's previous career, starting a business, doing part-time work and volunteering, or something else completely different. For many Boomers, working through their 60s and possibly their 70s is desirable; for some, it is financially necessary. As a result, the very meaning of retirement has changed dramatically from previous generations.

Still, even if retirement has been redefined, it certainly indicates a time when Boomers are often going through some sort of significant change that could be related to the loss of a career, adult children leaving the nest, and a new perhaps less secure financial situation.

Wrestling with the basic question, "When should you 'really' retire?" is difficult without putting your hands on some basic data. To help in that regard, retirement expert Mark Miller addresses some key issues in his article for Reuters. He discusses financial considerations, health insurance, and such intangibles as lifestyle.

In his article, Miller references a helpful checklist of questions concerning when to retire published by the Society of Actuaries. (Now that's a group that probably knows a thing or two about making financial projections!) You can download a copy of this checklist at the link below.

Download When to Retire

5 Steps to Help Ensure Adequate Retirement Income

Guest Post by Merilee Kern

MusingsWhile plenty of people are duly committed to saving for retirement through 401k, IRA or other nest egg-inducing personal finance plays, however devotedly and even over many years, it turns out several may actually be suffering a false sense of security. 

“For many years, financial planners have espoused general formulas for determining the amount of income retirees will need, the most popular being the ‘70 percent rule’ that suggests that retirees will need to replace just 70 percent of their pre-retirement income to provide for their living needs in retirement,” notes Ray LeVitre, CFP, author of 20 Retirement Decisions You Need to Make Right Now; and founder/managing partner at Net Worth Advisory Group — a firm specializing in retirement financial planning

“That may have been an effective guideline a few decades ago when the rule was established; however, for many retirees, relying upon it today may be fraught with financial peril."

According to LeVitre, modern-day aging cost considerations include:

  • A male turning 65 years old today can be expected to live another 19 years versus 11 years in 1970; for women, they can expect to live another 23 years

  • The chances of retirees or an elder family member requiring some form of long-term care is 7 in 10.

  • Many of today’s retirees are carrying some form of debt into retirement, including mortgages, consumer debt and student loans.

  • Although inflation has moderated somewhat since the 1970s, lifestyle costs, such as housing, food and transportation consume a larger portion of a retiree’s budget today.

  • Although health care cost increases have slowed, the rate of cost increases continues to be well above the general rate of inflation.

I asked LeVitre what baseline, foundational steps those within 15 years of retirement can do to enhance lifetime income sufficiency. Here’s what he had to say:

  1. Track your expenses now. You should begin to track your living expenses and gradually adjust your budget to smooth out your consumption between your living requirements now and your requirements in retirement.

  2. Start living like a retiree now. Taking it a step further, you could take the approach of changing your lifestyle now to reflect how you expect to live in retirement. That might mean downsizing your home now, reducing your leisure travel, driving more efficient cars, and generally adopting a more frugal mindset.

  3. Increase your savings. Any combination of the first two steps should generate steady increase in excess cash flow which should be saved for retirement. Pre-retirees within 15 years of retirement should target a minimum of 15 percent of their earnings for contributing to their retirement.

  4. Start exploring your Social Security options. Retirees who are able to postpone their Social Security benefits until age 70 can significantly boost their lifetime income; and additional Social Security planning for spousal benefits could increase it further.

  5. Don’t invest too conservatively. Although the natural inclination is to reduce your exposure to risk-based investments like equities the closer you are to retirement, reducing your exposure by too much, too soon could stunt the growth of your capital. To ensure lifetime income sufficiency, today’s retirees should always have some exposure to equities. A broadly diversified, well-balanced portfolio of equities, bonds and cash offers the best opportunity to maintain the necessary growth of capital needed while minimizing volatility over the long-term.

LeVitre also underscored that, regardless of your planning method or process, it would be a mistake to succumb to standard formulas or a generalized approach to retirement planning.  

“Right now, your retirement vision—formed by your specific needs, wants, attitudes and beliefs—rests in your mind, and it will undoubtedly change as your outlook and priorities change,” he says. “But, you should always base your income needs on realistic assumptions.” So it’s time for America’s aging population to do a collective fiscal-future reality check. 

Merilee Kern, MBA, is an influential media voice and communications strategist. As the Executive Editor and Producer of "The Luxe List International News Syndicate,” she’s a revered consumer product trends expert and travel industry voice of authority who spotlights noteworthy marketplace change makers, movers and shakers. Merilee may be reached online at Follow her on Twitter here: and Facebook here:

No Easy Solution to Age Discrimination

MusingsIf you'd like to get an eye-opening perspective on age discrimination, read Chris Farrell's recent article on He discusses a Supreme Court case which essentially sided with R. J. Reynolds, a company that allegedly discriminated against a 49-year old highly qualified job applicant named Richard Villarreal. Despite the 50-year old Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which in theory protects those 40 years and older from age discrimination in the workplace, the Supreme Court let a lower court ruling stand; Farrell writes "The courts dismissed Villarreal’s suit saying the ADEA claim he brought only protected existing employees, not job applicants. The courts also agreed with Reynolds that Villarreal hadn’t 'diligently' pursued why he didn’t hear back about his application."

Farrell points out "The Supreme Court and many lower courts increasingly defer to employers on hiring and employment decisions when it comes to what the ADEA calls 'reasonable factors other than age.' (For example, employers can justify as a reasonable business decision laying off their most expensive workers who happen to have seniority and are mostly older.)"

So if there is no legal recourse when you believe you have been discriminated against because of your age, what can you do? Chris Farrell has some excellent suggestions, but all of them put the onus on Congress or the federal EEOC to take action.

Farrell makes an impassioned plea to government and industry to institute a kind of hiring known as "safe harbor," along with training programs for older workers: "The timing may be propitious for an experiment combining safe-harbor hiring and well-funded training programs for older workers. After eight years of steady economic growth and an unemployment rate at 4.4 percent, employers are currently looking for workers. Yet management too often seems blind to the opportunities available from recruiting older applicants with skills, knowledge and experience."

Sadly, there is no easy solution to age discrimination, which puts many Boomers at risk in the job market. Maybe this is one reason an increasing number of Boomers choose to work for themselves.

Read Farrell's thoughtful article here: