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November 2015

Boomers Looking to Give Time and Money in Retirement

OntheHouseA recent study conducted by Merrill Lynch in partnership with Age Wave tells an intriguing story about how Boomers want to give back in retirement -- to the extent that the study portrays the phenomenon as "America's Longevity Bonus."

According to the study, which suggests there will be a surge in giving over the next two decades, almost two-thirds (65%) of retirees say retirement is the best time to give back. In fact, when contributions of both money and time are considered, retirees lead the nation in giving, responsible for 42% of the money given to charity, and 45% of the total volunteer hours given to charity. This translates into about $6.6 trillion of charitable contributions and $1.4 trillion of value in volunteer hours that retirees will contribute in the U.S. from 2016 to 2035.

Giving improves a Boomer's self-worth, too. According to the study, 59% of retirees who give or volunteer say they have a strong sense of purpose versus 43% of those who do not give or volunteer. Of those who give or volunteer, 57% say they have high self-esteem vs. 51% of those who do not give or volunteer, and 66% of givers say they are happy vs. 52% of those who are not givers. A resounding 85% of retirees say "being generous" better defines success in retirement vs. 15% who say "being wealthy" defines success.

There is a gender difference: Women are more likely to say giving is a high priority in retirement than men, and women are more likely to give in retirement than men.

When it comes to making giving decisions, 77% of married retirees say it is "very important to have in-depth conversations about giving with their spouse."

My wife and I can bear testament to the above data. We have both given money and volunteered our time for years, even agreeing on one primary organization to which we devote most of our efforts. We consider ourselves part of that organization's mission and feel good about giving back at this stage of our lives.

This study is fascinating and should provoke thoughtful consideration and discussion. You can read it here.

The Ups and Downs of Boomer Couples in Business

OnYourOwnA relatively new small business phenomenon is taking place in America: More Boomer couples are starting businesses together. They may do it because they’ve lost or left their jobs. Or maybe they want to pursue an encore career as a couple.

But co-owning a business raises a key question: Will it help or hurt your relationship with your spouse?

We put it to the test: My wife Sharon and I started a small service business in our mid-50s, ran it together for over six years, and then sold it. We used the business as a pre-retirement transition from full-time professional careers.

Living and working together as a couple can be intense and, at times, overwhelming. As we learned even before we owned a business, working together blends a couple’s personal lives with their careers, and it’s very difficult to maintain separation between these two aspects of life.

How did it all work out for us? You can read about our experience in an article I wrote for the website of the National Association of Baby Boomer Women.

"Tech for a New Age" Shares Data and Perspective on Aging with Technology

MusingsThe technology company Philips offers "Tech for a New Age," a microsite posted on The New York Times that has a wealth of interesting information for Boomers. According to data shared by the site, 10,000 people turn 65 every day and by 2030, 18 percent of the population of the U.S. will be at least 65.

The site suggests that technology can be an enabler for keeping seniors more independent as they age:

" 'Technology can help people stay as healthy as possible. It helps people stay in their homes and out of nursing homes and hospitals,' says Brian Carpenter, an expert on aging and professor at Washington University in St. Louis. 'There’s tremendous financial incentive to keep people in their own homes. It’s where people want to be, and it’s much cheaper than the alternative.'

"The average annual cost of assisted living is $3,600 a month, while a private room in a nursing home is $7,750. The average cost of hospitalization for a fall — a common accident that affects one out of three older adults each year — is more than $35,000."

Check out the site for more information about the costs of senior home care, data concerning aging, and examples and stories about how various technology innovations are helping seniors as they age.

Movies for Boomers: "Bridge of Spies" Offers a Jolt of Nostalgia

MediaIt is no accident that Hollywood is producing more movies for Boomers. Our generation has the time and money to go to the movies to be entertained, and Hollywood knows it. Fellow Boomer Steven Spielberg, arguably one of the greatest directors ever, offers a jolt of nostalgia in his latest production, "Bridge of Spies."

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 11.36.25 AMIf you haven't read the reviews or seen the movie yet, this is a Cold War-era drama, based on a true story, about James Donovan, an American attorney (brilliantly portrayed by Tom Hanks) who defends a Russian spy. It becomes a far more complex tale as the movie unfolds. I want to concentrate, though, on the non-plot elements that will undoubtedly jog Boomers' memories of their childhood.

If you grew up in the 1950s and early 60's, you were sure to be affected one way or the other by the Cold War. The nostalgic aspects of this movie surround you with all sorts of images from that time in our history. I could easily relate to the scenes of school children being so scared of "the bomb" that they would burst out crying. The fabric of the film also reinforces the era. The scenes of family meals, black-and-white TV shows, those infamous TV dinners, the working dad and the stay-at-home mom... all of these resonated with me as a throwback to my childhood. Spielberg did a masterful job with the authenticity of what streets, cars, modes of dress, houses, and apartments looked like. And he really captured the Cold War hysteria we all felt.

So in addition to being a good story and an engaging movie, "Bridge of Spies" is a giant jolt of nostalgia! Go see it.

Changing Your Career Later in Life Works

OntheClockMany of us who have been in the workforce for decades are faced with a dilemma later in life: We may want (or need) to continue to work, but the opportunities in our area of expertise are limited. In some cases, it is because our field has changed; in others, it is because employers are less likely to retain experienced and expensive professionals. As a result, some boomers make the disconcerting decision to change careers.

The good news is that changing your career later in life generally works, according to the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER).  In their 2015 research study, "New Careers for Older Workers," AIER reports:

  • "Out of the older adults who are trying to change careers, most are successful."
  • "The majority of successful career changers report that the move has made them happier."
  • "Many successful career changers report that the change increased their income."
  • "Transferable skills are among the most important factors in successfully changing careers."

AIER surveyed adults age 47 and older. To qualify for the survey, adults had to have attempted a career change after the age of 45. The respondents were fairly evenly split between male (52%) and female (48%) and age group: 30% age 47 to 57, 33% age 58 to 64, and 37% age 65 or older.

The survey found that anywhere from 16 million to 29 million people attempt a career change after the age of 45, and 82 percent of these career changers are successful. These statistics hold true regardless of occupation. However, the survey did find that "respondents who report that they were unsuccessful in their career change were in their prior jobs longer than successful respondents, and they report spending more time job searching." According to the survey, the "overwhelming majority (90 percent) of career changers say the move was a success and report being happy or very happy (87 percent) after the career change." Half of the career changers "saw an increase in pay over time."

The survey results should give those of us who are contemplating career changes later in life some cause for optimism.

For some Boomers, changing careers means starting their own business. Read how one couple worked together to start a service business in the new book, Let's Make Money, Honey: The Couple's Guide to Starting a Service Business.