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June 2020

The Double Whammy: COVID-19 and Ageism

Musings Vincent-van-zalinge-4Mu2bXIsn5Y-unsplashRight now, COVID-19 shows no signs of abating. This has many implications for the country and the world, but it is especially unsettling for Boomers. We are vulnerable in two ways: First, we're more prone to get seriously ill or die from the virus. Second, we take the brunt of society's implicit blame.

This is a double whammy. Those of us who work in a traditional office setting may well be concerned if not terrified to return to our job. Perhaps we have been fortunate enough to have an employer who encouraged us to telecommute, but that can only last so long. Your employer, like most others, is probably hurting financially because of the shutdown of the economy. Who do you think will be the most likely employees to be laid off first? That's right, Boomers. Which age group will most likely have the toughest time finding another job? Right again, Boomers -- because in our society, discrimination on the basis of age runs rampant.

A recent article in The New York Times confirms the seriousness of the situation. Tricia Neuman, Medicare policy program director at Kaiser tells writer Mark Miller, "It's double jeopardy for older workers as businesses open up. If they return to work, they risk getting seriously ill due to Covid, but if they stay home, they may forfeit their earnings." As for retaining a job, Laurie McCann, an AARP foundation senior attorney, adds, "Older workers already faced much longer periods of unemployment than younger workers before the pandemic. I think that will be on steroids this time -- employers will be more reticent to hire older workers who may be more vulnerable to illness."

It goes without saying that state and federal laws are weak at best when it comes to protecting Boomers. The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act is intended to protect workers who are 40 and older from being discriminated against by employers with 20 or more workers. Unfortunately, it is a difficult law to enforce, because the burden is on the employee to prove definitively that age discrimination was the reason for a layoff, not being reinstated at a job, or not being hired for a new position.

Health insurance is a big problem for Boomer workers as well. If you're under 65 and lose your full-time job, you will also lose the all-important benefit of health insurance provided by your employer. Your next job is likely to be part-time or temporary, so it won't offer health insurance as a benefit. To put it bluntly, you're screwed until you turn 65 and can apply for Medicare.

On the financial side, retirement savings are taking a hit, as they did in the 2008-2009 recession. If you need income from work and you can't get work, you may have to dip into savings and/or draw Social Security earlier than you thought. This is one reason it is so important to work with a financial adviser.

Hopefully, you've put enough away for "a rainy day," because it sure is pouring at the moment.  You'll need to keep that financial umbrella open over your head a while longer. is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.

Photo by Vincent van Zalinge on Unsplash

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The Real Dilemma for Older Workers

OntheClock Person-731423_1920For Boomers who want to or have to work and are seeking a new position, they often face a harsh reality: Accept a job that is far below their experience level and pay grade. In the Fall 2019 issue of Generations, the Journal of the American Society on Aging, Carl E. Van Horn and Maria Heidkamp write, "When older job seekers are able to find work, it often is temporary or part time, pays less than they had previously earned, and does not provide a full suite of benefits."

This reality seems counter-intuitive. Not only are Boomers highly experienced and dependable, they are actually an important and growing part of the U.S. labor market. By 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as much as one quarter of the workforce, over 42 million people, will be older workers, and workers older than age 65 are expected to remain in the labor market at a higher rate than their younger counterparts.

Still, as Van Horn and Heidkamp report, Boomers are often relegated to "precarious jobs" that are typically low paying and often consist of part-time, temporary and contract positions, most of which offer no benefits. It is estimated by BLS that 4.7 million workers are considered "involuntary part-time" because they could not find full-time positions. Almost 40 percent of these involuntary part-time workers had two or more jobs, and one third of them said they sometimes could not afford food, medication or healthcare in the past year.

Even older workers who are employed full time are vulnerable. Van Horn and Heidkamp cite this example: In New Jersey, a private organization called New Start Career Network (NSCN) was started to help the state's older job seekers who were long-term unemployed or underemployed. The organization surveyed its membership of more than 4,500 and compiled the results from 637 respondents. Less than half (45 percent) were employed when they answered the survey in 2018. About half (48 percent) of those employed worked full time, while 15 percent were employed in temporary or contract positions, 13 percent were voluntary part time, 12 percent were involuntary part time, and 5 percent were self-employed (6 percent classified their situation as "other").

Over three-quarters (76 percent) of those NSCN members who were employed "were earning less than they had before their long-term unemployment, and of this group that earned less, three in four (73 percent) estimated that their yearly earnings declined by more than $20,000. Only one in ten earned more than they had prior to their period of unemployment." This represents just one organization in one state, but it is typical of the employment experiences of millions of Boomer workers. (Van Horn and Heidkamp are both associated with the NSCN, which is funded by the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.)

In their article, Van Horn and Heidkamp propose specific policy recommendations to help remedy the older worker dilemma in our country, including curtailing age discrimination in hiring and expanding access to transition assistance and lifelong learning. They conclude, "New policies are needed to provide [older workers] with the opportunities for work and a social safety net that reflects the contemporary labor market." is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.


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Boomers and Race

Musings Demonstration-5267931_1920In this blog I habitually discuss retirement, but it is hard not to acknowledge the current furor surrounding race in America. 

As the generation associated with the civil rights movement of the Sixties, Boomers should be all too familiar with this painful time. Back then, many of us were filled with moral outrage over the inequities in our country. Today's social unrest reinforces the well-known saying, "The more things change, the more they remain the same."

Some of us may have found it heartening when Barack Obama was elected as the first black president -- a vindication of sorts. Even so, racial injustice did not abate; in fact, racial discrimination only grew, and now it has reached an explosive moment. The sobering reality is that it is deeply embedded in our society.

As a retired marketing professional, I look at this reality through another lens. I pay particular attention to how brands react in moments like these.

Four days after George Floyd’s death, Nike took a bold step, modifying its iconic “Just Do It” slogan to read, “For once, Don’t Do It” in an ad that urged, “Don’t turn your back on racism. … Don’t think you can’t be part of the change.” 

Nike’s ad is emblematic of businesses and organizations jumping on the bandwagon of the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Brand advertising campaigns in support of the movement are springing up everywhere. Most advertisers are adopting a mea culpa attitude, acknowledging their racist culpability and promising to make amends.

Edelman, a leading public relations firm, just conducted a flash poll of consumer attitudes. Sixty percent of respondents said brands must take a stand to publicly speak out against racial injustice. CEO Richard Edelman observed, "The results are unequivocal: Americans want brands to step up and play a central role in addressing systemic racism. This is a mandate for brands to act, because consumers will exercise brand democracy with their wallets."

Of course, it is easier to pay lip service, even with a powerful advertising message, than it is to make fundamental change within a business or organization. For example, some observers lauded the Nike campaign I referenced earlier. Others demurred, however, pointing out that the company has key relationships with black athletes and garners substantial business from the African American demographic yet has no blacks on its executive leadership team.

The compelling question for brands is whether they and the marketers behind them are being authentic and sincere in their public claims. Are they examining their own organizations and doing all they can to overcome racial bias and injustice and, for that matter, bias of any kind?

Come to think of it, all of us can ask ourselves the same question. is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.


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What Type of Business Should You Start in Rewirement?

Guest Post by Mike Lieberman

Mike-headshot OnYourOwnThe retirement landscape is rapidly changing.

It’s very different now than it was 10 years ago.

One of the main contributors to the change is our life expectancies.

You see your parents and grandparents typically lived 10-15 years after they retired.

Now you might live another 20-30 years. Big difference.

My guess is this might be why you’re looking to rewire instead of retire.

You’re looking to ignite the spark in this next stage of your life.

Did you know that according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, Self-Employment in the U.S., "the self-employment rate among workers 65 and older (who don’t incorporate) is the highest of any age group in America: 15.5%.”

Interested in starting your own online business?

I mean, why not?

Starting an online business in your rewirement can:

  • Ease your transition from your traditional career into rewirement
  • Give you some extra cash to pad your existing savings or fund some of your passions and hobbies.
  • Enable you to donate to your favorite charitable cause
  • Give you structure in your life
  • Help to keep you engaged mentally to stay sharp

The benefits are more than just financial.

Here’s the deal though:

We live in a time where the barrier to entry in starting your own online business has never been lower.

There are many different types of online businesses you can start and choosing can be overwhelming.

You need to create the right mindset and understand which one makes sense for you.

How do you know?

Glad you asked.

It starts with a question.

To save you time Googling the options I spoke to Kevin Lyles, who specializes in assisting Professionals and Executives as they make retirement transitions with the life side of retirement planning.

I asked Kevin, “What’s the first thing you’d ask someone that was thinking of starting a business in retirement?”

He responded with, “What do they want to get out of the business? That will lead to how I could counsel them because there are many possible answers.”

Before we get into the answers, I’d like to discuss why this is a critical question to consider.

You with me?

Why this is a critical question.

Step back for a second and think about your past 20-40 years of your career.

It’s been there out of necessity and it has accounted for a huge chunk of your time.

Now that you’re moving into rewirement, work takes on a new part in your life.

What this means is whatever business you choose must align with how you want to spend your time.

In your first half of life, your career dictated how you spent your time. Now how you spend your time is in your control.

This is why it’s critical to get clear what it is you want to get out of your business and make sure it supports your vision.

Make sense?

How the question can be answered.

Kevin and I discussed five common answers to “What do you want to get out of your business?”

Here they are:

1. The income is needed to survive

If you’ve entered this stage in your life and you need the income from your business to survive, think about continuing with your current job or seeking new employment.

As mentioned earlier, starting a business isn’t going to be smooth sailing and will take time to produce enough income to live off of.

With that being said, if you’re approaching rewirement, it might be a good time to start and build traction to help ease the transition.

2. Extra cash in the wallet

Ideally, you’re set with your retirement financial plan.

If so, your business might put some extra cash in your wallet that affords you the ability to go on that lavish vacation, buy yourself a new toy or whatever it is you want.

When you have the extra cash, you can do so without worry.

3. Building a legacy

Legacy can mean a variety of things such as:

  • Passing the business on to your kids
  • Handing wealth down to future generations
  • Being the example for your kids and grandkids that anything is possible

Leaving such a legacy could be what you want to get out of your business.

4. Solving problems for others

This is one of the common reasons for people to start their own business.

They’re good at doing something and can get paid to help others doing it.

5. Purpose and meaning

With your traditional career behind you, you now have a lot of time to fill everyday.

This is one of the big challenges people are having, Kevin shared with me.

 “If they’ve been working 10-12 hour days for 30-40 years, now they wake up and don’t know what to do with themselves. Having a business can really fill that void and give them some purpose and reason to get up in the morning.”

When you get clear what it is you want to get out of your business it helps to narrow down the choices for you.

It allows you to shift focus to the structure and opportunities that support your vision.

Sound off

Let me know your answer to “What do you want to get out of your business?” and why.

Mike Lieberman is the founder of Retirement Redefinition. He created the site to help you define your retirement lifestyle and start an online business that fits it. is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.

Back to the Sixties

Psychedelic-1503541_1280In 1948, Winston Churchill, paraphrasing George Santayana, said, "Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it."

Boomers like me who lived through the Sixties can surely relate to that observation. Today, we watch a repeat performance of some of the most turbulent years of our lifetime. In particular, the similarities between this year (so far) and 1968 are startling.

In April 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was gunned down. This event led to spontaneous riots in cities across America, lasting for several days. Robert F. Kennedy, who extemporaneously and eloquently spoke after King's murder, was himself assassinated in June 1968. Riots also occurred at the Democratic National Convention in August.

In July 1968, a flu pandemic known as the "Hong Kong Flu" broke out. An unconfirmed report suggested it may have started in China. The flu spread first throughout Asia. By September, it had reached India, the Philippines, Australia and Europe. American troops returning from Vietnam brought the virus to California. By December, it had spread throughout the United States. The outbreak lessened in the winter of 1969 - 1970, but not before the Hong Kong Flu had killed 100,000 people in this country and around one million people worldwide.

The successful launch of two American astronauts last month on a SpaceX vehicle parallels the October 1968 launch of Apollo 7. At the same time, war continued to rage in Vietnam, much as it does in Syria and other hot spots today.

Boomers have lived through wars, space launches, pandemics and national riots in the Sixties. Perhaps some of us believe that, as before, "this too shall pass." Yet we must bear witness to a harsh reality. Many of the inequities and injustices that were true in 1968 seem to still be true in 2020. As a country, we still suffer from inequality when it comes to wealth, education, healthcare and job opportunities. We still suffer from unspeakable gun violence. We still suffer from systemic racism, demonstrated by the murder of King in 1968 and the murder of George Floyd in 2020, which spurred spontaneous national riots. Tragically, Floyd is just the latest in a long line of brutal deaths at the hands of police, public servants whose job it is to protect all Americans.

There are things about growing up in the Sixties I enjoyed. Watching the upheaval of 1968 playing out again today is not one of them. is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.


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