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March 2016

The Baby Boomer Employee/Employer Disconnect

OntheClockOne of the issues I have explored in a number of posts is the disconnect between Boomer employees and employers when it comes to continued employment. Boomers who want to work past the previously accepted retirement age of 65 either face mandatory retirement or what they perceive as age discrimination. Those Boomers who would like to phase into part-time work may also find a lack of receptivity on the part of their employers.

One study suggests that at least some employers may be a bit more enlightened than others. The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies has been conducting a retirement survey of workers for sixteen years. The 15th Annual Survey report (December 2014) focused on perceptions of Baby Boomer workers and their employers. Over 1,800 Boomers and over 750 companies, both small and large, were surveyed.

According to the survey report, 65% of Boomer workers plan to work past age 65 or do not plan to retire at all. In addition, 68% see themselves phasing into retirement; they plan to either continue working but reduce their hours on the job, or work in a less demanding position. Only 21% plan to fully retire and stop working, while 12 percent are "not sure."

Employers claim to be far more supportive of Boomer workers than Boomers themselves may perceive. According to the survey report, "Eighty-eight percent of employers agree that they are supportive of their employees working past age 65 and delaying retirement, including 49 percent that 'strongly agree' and 39 percent that 'somewhat agree.' However, phasing out of full-time work is a different story: "Only 48 percent of employers have practices in place to enable shifting from full-time to part-time and even fewer (37 percent) allow taking on new positions that are less stressful or demanding."

Clearly, employers are generally sending a mixed message to Boomers; while employers are apparently happy to have Boomers continue on a full-time basis, less than half of employers facilitate a transition from full-time to part-time. Bottom line: There is still a disconnect between Boomer employees and employers, leaving millions of Boomer workers to sort things out on their own.

You can download the full survey report below.

Download TransamericaRetirementStudy-15

Surprising Benefits of Volunteering

OntheHouseMy post about being a volunteer in retirement generated several comments on LinkedIn. In the post I discussed some of the reasons I have found volunteering to be gratifying. In his article for Next Avenue, Mark Horoszowski details "5 Surprising Benefits of Volunteering." It not only reinforces the value of volunteering, it makes for an interesting read.

For one thing, Mark talks about the fact that volunteering actually gives you the impression that you have more time, not less of it. That's because spending time in a worthwhile pursuit makes your time generally feel of greater value.

Other surprising benefits? Volunteers who use their skills to help an organization may find that they are developing entirely new skills during their volunteer commitment. Volunteering can continue to hone your experience. It can offer you experience in a new area, or provide you with the experience you need to transition from the business world to the nonprofit sector. Volunteering can also lead to an unexpected part-time paid position.

Interestingly, research has shown that people who volunteer share the love -- they are generally happier than people who do not volunteer.

Even if you volunteer a few hours a week or just once a month, don't underestimate the value of volunteering -- especially at a stage of life where personal validation and satisfaction can be so important.

Should You Volunteer?

OntheHouseSome Boomers find satisfaction doing volunteer work, while others may question whether it is the best way to spend their time. The first question to ask about volunteering is simply, Can you afford it? Not every Boomer is in a financial position to be able to volunteer, which almost always means working without pay. If you have to generate some income and still want to volunteer, however, you can often reach an acceptable compromise by working part-time and volunteering part-time.

Volunteering is very personal. You can pursue a passion or an interest by volunteering for a nonprofit organization whose cause is important to you. You can help the disadvantaged or under-privileged through literacy, public health, and welfare programs. You can help change the world for the better by working with an environmental organization. You can care for animals by volunteering at your local animal shelter. You can support culture and the arts by volunteering for a local museum or theatre company. You can use your business expertise as a volunteer counselor or consultant to students and entrepreneurs. Those are just a few examples. There are likely to be numerous volunteer opportunities like these and others right in your own community.

Volunteering can also uncover unexpected opportunities. I have volunteered for a local nonprofit for many years in a variety of ways. In addition to helping the organization, I have made a number of valuable contacts; for example, one of the organization's donors knew I was a semi-retired marketing professional and recommended me to a startup company. This resulted in my doing several paid consulting projects for the company.

Volunteering can give you a sense of purpose. It can offer you a personal reward because you'll feel good about helping others. It can also provide you with social interaction and act as an anchor when you need the structure of a scheduled activity. And in some cases, volunteering can even lead to unanticipated income.

Why Talking About Money Together is Important for a Happy Retirement

MusingsCouples are not always comfortable talking about money. For some life partners, this is a persistent problem that becomes magnified as they approach their retirement years.

Financial planner Neal Frankle has some great advice. Writing for Next Avenue, Frankle suggests that couples start not by discussing money specifically, but by identifying their retirement dreams. Frankle writes that you should "clarify what you both want your retirement lives to look like, what your priorities are and your best estimate of what each item costs. Mark each item as either a 'must have,' 'want' or 'wish.' That will be invaluable when it comes time to putting your plan into action."

Next, Frankle believes couples should ballpark how much money it will take to live the lifestyle you both want and then compare that to an estimate of your combined investment income, Social Security payments, and pensions, if any. This is where reality sets in and compromises may have to be made. Read Frankle's complete article to find out what comes next. (As an aside, if you don't already read the articles offered by Next Avenue, you should -- they are excellent. Subscribe at

I was encouraged when I read Neal Frankle's commentary, because this was similar to the process my wife and I went through with the assistance of our financial adviser. It helped us take our dreams and ground them in reality, making compromises we could both agree to along the way. For us, it led to satisfaction rather than disappointment.