April 29, 2017

Retirement and the New Normal: Millennials to Baby Boomers

This is about doing the math. It's about educating ourselves and conducting a gut-check. By default, it's about how we live during the years before retirement age, too. I recommend "Fifty-Five, Unemployed, and Faking Normal" by Elizabeth White. Below are two videos from PBS NewHour's Making Sen$e series. White's extensive research, first-person experience, and thoughtful commentary is both timely and necessary:

1. 10,000 Americans turn 65 each day: "Every eight seconds another American turns sixty-five - ten thousand people per day. By 2030, nearly 20 percent of the population will be sixty-five or older, the largest senior population in the history of the United States." (U.S. Census)

2. Regardless of your political ideology, we're all in this together: "According to a May 2015 study by the Government Accountability Office on retirement preparedness, half of all American households have no retirement savings at all." And, "According to the GAO, around 29 percent of households aged fifty-five and older have neither retirement savings nor pensions."

3. How did we get here? For starters, stop blaming the victim: "The truth is, if you're a boomer-aged American, you've spent your last three or more decades dealing with flat or falling wages, disappearing pensions, and steeply rising costs in housing, health care, and education. If that pummeling wasn't bad enough, in 2008 you were hit by the largest economic downturn in decades."

4. "You are going to hear a lot about how it's all your fault that you underfunded your retirement; you'll hear about all of that money you wasted on lattes and bottled water. You're going to be accused of being irresponsible and fiscally promiscuous - yes, promiscuous. Don't buy it."

All age groups should watch this and read her book. Ultimately, hers is a message of hope and resilience in the face of inescapable change. She plots a course worth examining.

"Fifty-Five, unemployed and faking normal: One women's story of barely scraping by"
aired January 19, 2017 on PBS NewsHour. The follow-up video (embedded above) aired January 26, 2017.