By Larry Teren
News item: A recent poll by AARP indicates that baby boomers as a whole do not expect to retire when eligible to receive social security benefits.
According to the story, baby boomers- those of us born between 1946 and 1964- plan to work for as long as we are healthy enough and employers are willing to keep us on the payroll.
Specifically, 72 percent of non-retired baby boomers believe they will probably be forced to delay retirement.
50 percent have little confidence that they will ever be able to retire.
65 percent have little confidence that they will have the means to live comfortably in retirement.
(The survey questioned 1,852 registered voters, including 1,331 ages 50 and older.)
Most baby boomers are worried about economic security and don’t see any improvement coming up over the next several months. Retirement age is a scary proposition. What the federal government hands out in social security benefits is dwarfed by increasing costs of living.
A carton of 59 ounce orange juice sells for $3.00 when it is on sale. Not too long ago the size of the carton is 64 ounces and orange juice sells for $2.59.
Less than two weeks ago, gas went for $3.69 a gallon in the near north suburban Chicago area. Due to a slight disruption in a pipeline somewhere in Wisconsin, the price shot up the next day to $4.29 and has been there ever since. Yes, a sixty cent jump is a shock to the wallet.
A grocery store chain brags when it puts green pepper on sale for $1.00 each. Other stores sell it for $1.99 per pound.
Senior citizens collecting social security benefits electronically into their bank accounts each month get anywhere from $1200 to $2000 a month depending on their contributions over the years to the fund. It obviously helps when both husband and wife collect but there comes a time when one dies and leaves the other desperately trying to make do on half the income. And there are more single senior citizens than ever.
Of course, baby boomers should not rely entirely on social security benefits. There should be a plan in place to put away into an IRA or 401k or some other type of tax-deferred pension plan. That seemed a lot easier to do a few short years ago but not so much now. I’m sure there are those of us borrowing from our retirement savings to sustain our present lifestyle.
Our parents told us what it was like as kids to live through the Great Depression when there were no social security benefits. We know from history books and movies that the economic downturn that began in October of 1929 lasted for several years. It took a second World War to rev up the economy to quickly build up a war machine. If not for the Federal Government taking healthy young men out of the work force to fight overseas along with women taking their place at factories- who knows how much longer the money blues would have lasted?
We baby boomers went through the same angst in the late 1970’s as we tried to get a foothold in our fledgling careers. Severe inflation combined with Viet Nam War vets returning from miliatry action put a crimp on businesses hiring young, untested college-educated workers.
The 1980’s and 90’s worked out okay. The personal computer boom along with the switch to everyone owning a cell phone stoked the economic fires. We all looked with confidence toward the day when we’d be able to retire earlier and enjoy the good life. But that evaporated with a snap of the finger with the tech sector crash of the stock market followed by a real estate market implosion. All of sudden, for many of us, our homes have less market value than the outstanding balance on our mortgages. For some, owning is no longer an option along with a return to renting and never building equity for the future.
So, here we are today hoping for a miracle that the leaders in the Federal government have answers that work even in the short run for baby boomers. Life will go back to happy times again. And maybe we will have the confidence to retire at, say, 70. After all, we’re all now going to live to at least 100, right?
To view the official Aarp poll, click below: