Reinventing Retirement

Reinventing Retirement

by Thomas L. Hardin, CMT, CFP

If you're a baby boomer or a pre"“baby boomer (born in 1937 or after), you're a member of what I like to call the rock and roll generation. And, like me, at some point in the future you'll face the prospect of becoming a second-generation retiree. Do you realize our parents were the first generation to embrace this concept of retirement? Before that, most people didn't live long enough to think about doing anything in their "later years." There were no later years! In 1900, the average life expectancy was only 47. We've come a long way in a very short time.

As a result, we really have no models for retirement. Yes, our parents retired, but what they did is not very compelling to our generation. They grew up in the depression era and they generally had lower expectations, were very conservative, and didn't spend as much money as we do. They tended to work at jobs rather than careers, and giving up a job wasn't a tough decision. In fact, it was pretty easy for them to "downsize" their lifestyle and live on a pension for their remaining 10 or 15 years.

Our generation doesn't think that way. We're living a lifestyle we love and we don't want it to end. We don't ever want to be "over the hill."ť We believe that if we do things right, we can just keep getting better and living profitably for many years more than our parents imagined. Thanks to breakthroughs in science, medicine, nutrition, and technology, most of us will enjoy good health and strength for many years to come. At age 50, many of us feel like 30-year-olds. We easily identify with baseball legend Satchel Paige, who asked, "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?"ť With our kids grown and our careers at their peak, we're approaching a time in life when we only have to be responsible for ourselves. Our biggest concern is, how do we keep it going?

As millions of rock and rollers reach retirement age, we're going to create a brand-new paradigm, a compelling vision of what we can be, do, enjoy, and feel passionate about. We're going to attack our 50s, 60s, and 70s much differently than our parents did. We'll be younger physically and mentally. We'll continue to be involved in rewarding and fulfilling activities. These will be the best years yet. And being financially secure will be more important than ever. With so much to look forward to, we won't want to run out of money before we run out of time.

There aren't many things more stressful than not having enough money. You can probably think back to stages in your life when you didn't have enough, and remember just how all-consuming and miserable that was. Those who think they're going to retire to a life of leisure for 30 or 40 years might find themselves in a similar situation - unless they plan their finances and develop a way to become financially independent. Accumulating assets, continuing to work part time, or turning a hobby into an income source will be critical.

In the coming months, we'll offer many tips about how to make sure your money doesn't run out before your life does, and how to make your second 50 years the best years yet. As Satchel Paige also said, "Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."