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April 2016

"Retirement Confidence Survey" Has Good News and Bad News

MusingsThe 2016 Retirement Confidence Survey, published by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), is the longest-running survey of its kind in the U.S. This year's recently issued report has some interesting data that suggests both good news and bad news for Boomers on their journey to retirement.

According to EBRI, key findings include the following:

  • 21 percent of workers are very confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement. This is slightly lower than in 2015 (22 percent) but substantially higher than in 2013 (13 percent). The percentage of "not at all confident" decreased from 24 percent in 2015 to 19 percent in 2016.
  • Worker confidence in the affordability of various aspects of retirement also increased in 2016. For example, workers who are very confident in their ability to pay for basic expenses increased from 37 percent in 2015 to 43 percent in 2016.
  • 67 percent of retirees indicate they do not have a problem with their level of debt, vs. 44 percent of workers who do not have a problem with their level of debt.
  • All of the above data points are generally positive, but here is the big warning sign: Even though 69 percent of workers report they or their spouses have saved retirement, a sizable percentage of workers say they have virtually no savings and investments. Of workers who provide this information, 26 percent say they have less than $1,000. Individuals and their spouses who do not have a retirement plan of any kind are far more likely than those who have a retirement plan to report this low level of savings (67 percent vs. 9 percent) and far less likely to report having saved at least $100,000 (5 percent vs. 34 percent).

You can download a copy of the institute's survey brief below.

Download 2016RetirementConfidenceSurvey

Review of My Book by Nancy Collamer

BooksI am honored to receive this excellent review of my book, Let's Make Money, Honey: The Couple's Guide to Starting a Service Businessfrom Nancy Collamer, nationally recognized coach/speaker/author and expert in second careers:

"Thinking about working with your ‘honey’ during semi-retirement? Then you might enjoy reading Let’s Make Money Honey: The Couple’s Gide to Starting a Service Business by husband and wife team Barry Silverstein and Sharon Wood. It’s an entertaining and informative guide that offers how-to advice on each step of the entrepreneurial journey.

This is certainly not the only book out there for couples interested in working together, but after reading it, there are three reasons why I recommend it:

  1. As opposed to other entrepreneurial reads geared towards millennials, this book is written for baby boomers interested in starting a small service business – exactly the type of venture most people prefer in semi-retirement.
  2. It is co-authored by a couple that’s actually started and run a business together. They’ve walked the walk and talked the talk – and it shows. You’ll find lots of helpful tips on how to manage the personal and professional challenges of running a business together.
  3. The authors made a conscious decision to start a short-term business as a bridge between their full-time careers and full retirement, ultimately running their biz for seven years before selling it. So if you want advice on how to both start, and sell, a short-term but profitable business, this book is right up your alley.

Finally, the book includes some very simple and practical tools - business compatibility test, skills inventory checklist, business start-up checklist, etc. – that can help you and your partner assess your compatibility and business interests."

Read more at Nancy's website:

Are "Cool Jobs" for Seniors Really Cool?

OnaWhimI recently became aware of a website called which features temporary jobs, mostly in desirable travel destinations. The site even has a special section called "Older and Bolder" that targets seniors who might be interested in such jobs. On this page, the copy reads, "Opportunities for retirees in great places! Employers value your experience, worldview and work ethic!"

Out of curiosity, I perused the job listings. As you might expect, these are temporary, seasonal jobs. Dig a little deeper and you recognize another fact: They are largely menial, low-paying jobs. Common opportunities include desk clerks, hosts/hostesses, and kitchen help.

My initial reaction was negative rather than positive. If "employers value your experience, worldview and work ethic," why do they expect you to work for $8 per hour with no benefits? Even though you may be working at a job in a desirable vacation destination, will that really make a difference if you're washing dishes eight hours a day? Washing dishes is still washing dishes, even if it is in the Grand Tetons. Granted, some of the jobs also provide housing, but it isn't free and the accommodations are spartan at best.

I'm not suggesting that some of these opportunities might not be worthy of consideration. They could provide income for seniors looking for a short-term commitment who are also interested in seeing a different part of the world. But it is curious that employers are now turning to seniors who have been pushed out of the job market to fill these positions; in the past, these jobs would almost certainly go to high school and college students on their summer breaks. Is it because these jobs are too menial even for today's kids -- or have employers realized that they can get the "experience, worldview and work ethic" of seniors at a bargain price?

If anyone has had an experience working at one of these "cool jobs," I'd love to hear about it. 

A New Retirement Movement

MusingsReinventing, rewiring, revising... whatever you call it, Boomers are determined to change the definition of retirement. One obvious reason is the extended life expectancy of most Boomers; in some cases, people may live for decades after they stop working at their full-time jobs.

Sociologist Donald Miller, who will turn 70 this year, is a recently retired professor who calls himself a PIP -- a "Previously Important Person" who is looking forward to his new stage of life: "Purpose Without Pressure." Miller writes on "Our generation will counter the image of 'old age' as one of decline and instead transform it into a stage of opportunity that will connect us with the idealism of the 1960s and ’70s. Our encore careers will take many forms: part-time employment for pay, volunteer work and all-engaging social entrepreneurialism. The encore period is one that will allow our inner desire for human wholeness and community to be realized."

Miller asks an interesting question: Is it time for us to invent rituals for retirement? "After all," writes Miller, "we have rituals for birth, puberty, marriage and other important life transitions. Why don’t we have rituals related to retirement that would launch us into what might be the most productive and meaning-filled period of our lives?"

I think Miller is on to something. We have reached the stage where retirement should be more of a beginning than an end. Read Miller's insightful article here

What's Your Role in the "Gig Economy"?

OnYourOwnHave you heard of the "gig economy"? As a Boomer, you should know about it, because it might present a significant opportunity that's perfectly targeted to your life stage.

According to a new report on global human capital trends from Deloitte, "contingent freelance workers" are increasingly used by businesses to create new, more streamlined workforces and take advantage of expertise and skills that can be acquired on a part-time basis. In a survey of executives by Deloitte, 42 percent said they "expect to increase or significantly increase the use of contingent workers in the next three to five years." That's why Deloitte predicts the rise of the "gig economy" -- "networks of people who make a living working without any formal employment agreement."

I'm part of the gig economy. I derive most of my part-time income from freelance writing assignments and marketing consulting projects. I prefer it that way: Being a gig worker offers me unmatched flexibility and independence so I can balance part-time work with volunteering and other interests.

Nancy Collamer, writing for Next Avenue, offers a number of suggestions for Boomers who want to take advantage of the gig economy, among them, monitoring freelance job boards and increasing in-person networking activities. Collamer's article is well worth reading if freelancing is something you might want to pursue.

Feature Article on about Boomer Couples Working Together

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I am pleased and honored to let you know that my article, "5 Reasons to Start a Business with Your Spouse," is featured today on, public media’s first and only national service for America’s booming 50+ population.

You can read the article here:

This article is also available on