Boomers to reinvent traditional retirement

The journey

The Journey

Your Money

May 21, 2006|By JANET KIDD STEWART | JANET KIDD STEWART,TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

Mary Jane Good advises start-up companies, volunteers with several community groups and is actively considering investment opportunities as she slowly diversifies out of a large position in her former employer's stock.

Today, she chairs the Greater Cincinnati chapter of Score, a national nonprofit group that offers business counseling to entrepreneurs.

"It's altogether different today," said Good, 71. "The baby boomers have a different perspective on retirement. Psychologically, people used to associate retirement with golf and bridge, but that's not the way we think anymore."

Forget defined-benefit pension plans, a Social Security system strong enough to provide for most needs and a relatively short period of years to finance.

Say hello to second - or third - careers, more responsibility for financing your retirement, soaring health care costs, confusing new Medicare plans, a perpetually moving target of tax-advantaged retirement savings plans and a financial-services industry about to unleash a raft of new products aimed at capturing your savings.

Studying about 5,000 adults, ages 25 to 70, on behalf of Merrill Lynch, Harris Interactive found 71 percent believe the ideal retirement includes paid work. Almost half - 45 percent - said they don't plan to stop working, ever.

The HSBC Group, the British global banking giant, last month unveiled one of the largest global studies on retirement issues, a survey of more than 21,000 people.

Although two-thirds said they believe they are responsible for financing their retirement, only about a third are actually saving money for their old age, the study found.

Already, some employers are beginning to court older workers with flexible schedules.

And real estate developers are offering upscale senior-oriented condos in hip urban areas.

Matt Thornhill, founder of the Boomer Project, a research and consulting organization in Richmond, Va., predicts housing may become communal, with groups of boomer friends sharing kitchens and living spaces as they grow old together.

Today, retirement is more a journey than a destination, a blend of work and personal pursuits, of growth investing and fixed-income demands, of finding new ways to support a phase of life that is about meaning as well as money.

In this column, we will explore the issues readers might face in retirement. We'll pair top financial experts with readers who have specific retirement-planning questions.

We'll try out financial products and opportunities geared toward boomers in the second half of life. We'll discuss Americans' savings patterns and offer strategies for building a nest egg today and tapping it after retirement.

Janet Kidd Stewart writes for Tribune Media Services.

This week, Your Money begins a new column, The Journey, looking at retirement: preparing for it and living it. As seniors live longer and millions of baby boomers approach their 60s, retirement issues are taking on ever-greater importance.

We want to hear your questions, problems and successes. E-mail us at yourmoneytribune.com or write to Andrew Countryman, Your Money editor, Room 400, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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