“I know you’re working hard and smart, but you’ve got to lift your head up and see how much longer people are living, and staying engaged in life, and think about what you want from your future.”

Jeri Sedlar, co-author of “Don’t Retire, Rewire!”

Will baby boomers have enough bucks for retirement?

The story goes like this: A couple in their early sixties scrimped and saved, and retired to their dream home in France. But eight months after they arrived at their chateau, the couple was miserable.

They missed their friends and clubs back home. They missed working, and lounging around all day was costlier than they expected. So they moved back to their old lives.

The moral of the story: Retirement ain’t what it used to be.

Fact is, we’re living longer and healthier lives, and the cost of living is increasing exponentially. That means we’re going to have more time to spend money, and less money to spend.

Years ago, jobs were more physically demanding. By the time you hit 65, you were exhausted and the prospect of leisure seemed novel. Nowadays, jobs are more sedentary, and people are increasingly admitting that a 24-7 vacation-style life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it can get downright boring.

According an AARP survey, at least 80 percent of baby boomers expect to continue working past the age of 65, and half of retirees say they’re worried about running out of money. Even the word “retirement” is outdated, says Hugh Delehanty, editor of AARP Publications.

“My father worked for the Postal Service for 30 years, retired at age 57 and he was fine. He was happy,” Delehanty said. “I can’t imagine that now. No one even uses the word ‘retirement’ in a positive way anymore.”

Jeri Sedlar, co-author of “Don’t Retire, Rewire!” says these changes in society mean we have to start looking at retirement in a different way.

“I know you’re working hard and smart, but you’ve got to lift your head up and see how much longer people are living, and staying engaged in life, and think about what you want from your future,” she said.

Get reflective

If you’re in the work world, you’ve go to start thinking about what fulfills and drives you, and make sure those components are still in your life after you leave your day job. Do you like to be a leader? Do you like the camaraderie that an office can provide? Do you like the buzz you get from someone complimenting your work?

“Many people say ‘I still want to work, but I don’t want to be in the rat race,”‘ Sedlar says. “Or they want flexibility. They want to work on their own terms, however that is defined. Or they leave work and realized that their identity was tied up in their job and now they don’t know what to do.”

What are you saving money for? Do you want to travel? Go back to school? Always wanted to write a book but never had the time? Want to keep working but do something new? Or maybe you really like your job and you want to keep at it after you hit 65.

“I’m not saying that a traditional retirement doesn’t have good components,” Sedlar said. “Many retirees are stressed out and burned out, but I don’t think a solely leisure and fun lifestyle is going to be good for physical or mental health.”

Squirrel away some money

So, if the old model of retirement is out, do those in their 20s and 30s still have to save? Yes, yes, yes, experts say. “There’s no guarantee you’re going to be in good health, there’s no guarantee there will be Social Security,” Sedlar said.

Saving can be hard, especially when you’re young and retirement seems far away, or if you’re saddled with student loans, mortgage payments or child-care costs, but there’s always a way to squirrel away a few bucks here and there. And those bucks add up, eventually.

“You have to look at this as an opportunity, and not a problem. Saving isn’t giving up something else, it’s putting away for tomorrow,” Sedlar says. “You have to start a philosophy of saving for the future.”

Sedlar says it’s best to consult a financial planner and work out a budget.

“If you get out a pen and paper and write down everything you spend money on, you’d be shocked by how much is wasted going out for coffee or buying gum,” Sedlar says. “You really need to sit down and say, ‘What’s my budget?’ You don’t want people running out of money when they still have a heck of a lot of life left in them.”

‘Mature’ workers valued

Society is slowly changing how it views retirees. Companies are increasingly hiring older workers, Sedlar says, especially in fields where there is a skills shortage like nursing and teaching. There are even Web sites like retirementjobs.com, encore.com and civicventures.com where companies post openings geared specifically for retirees.

“Nonprofits as well as the private and public sector are increasingly looking to recruit and retain ‘mature’ workers,” Sedlar says. “They realize the value they’re getting.”

It’s also possible that you do a financial assessment at age, say, 50, and find out you need to work another 20 years, so you rethink what you’re doing right now, instead of later.

“Maybe there’s no point in keeping your old job, when you can start working toward something new and still be getting a paycheck,” Sedlar says.


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