What Happens If I Can’t Retire?

In financial circles the big push is to get people to save enough money so that they can retire in comfort. That’s a noble goal, but the fact is that more and more people aren’t going to be able to retire, at least not in the way that they dream about. Pensions are a thing of the past, Social Security is iffy at best, and many people simply haven’t saved enough to cover both ridiculous health care expenses and a life of leisure.

We all dream of the life of leisure, the daily golf game, and the fantastic trips, but reality is likely to be somewhat different than our dreams because the money just won’t be there. Nobody wants to talk about what happens at that point. So

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9 Responses to What Happens If I Can’t Retire?

  1. Broken Arrow says:

    It will be interesting to see how the Boomer generation fare in the decades to come….

  2. jb says:

    Even if a person has a big wad of cash to live on the rest of their life it’s important to have something to do with your time. I guess volunteering could fill the gap, but there’s something nice about working for money. It’s important to enjoy each stage of this life and not put off living until retirement which might never happen.

  3. claudia says:

    Hmmm. this story contains a lot of generalities and inaccurate assumptions. I am guessing the author is nowheres near retirement.

    “We all dream of the life of leisure, the daily golf game, and the fantastic trips…Retiring into a life of leisure is a fairly recent concept. Our grandparents worked until their health failed and they had no choice but to stop. Maybe they scaled back on their hours, but they still worked.”

    Actually, it’s just the reverse of what you said. “Traditional” retirement, the kind our grandparents enjoyed, did in fact consist of “taking it easy” and enjoying endless rounds of sitcoms or rounds of golf. It’s only been in recent years, contrary to what you wrote, that baby boomers have redefined the meaning of retirement so that it may commonly include volunteer and community work, part-time work and a generally more active lifestyle than their parents lived in retirement.

    “The better answer may be to gradually phase working out of your life. Maybe at sixty-five you trade in the 9 to 5 desk job for a job in a museum or something else that you really enjoy. Or you piece together a couple of part time jobs. Then at seventy you scale back to part time hours. At seventy-five, maybe your income comes from a hobby that you can pursue at home and turn into a little cash.”

    This statement is really laughable, and completely unrealistic for many people. Who’s going to want to work at all by age 75? Granted, there will be some that will, but there will be more who simply can’t entertain that possibility due to health issues. Or, they may even be dead. The author seems to have completely disregarded that we all slow down a bit as we age, and none of us are work machines!

    It’s a nice idea, but it would be much more realistic if you’d said you take the p/t job at 60, then scale back to a hobby later in your 60s. You must be under 30!

  4. Broken Arrow says:

    Well, the Baby Boomer generation have been among the biggest segment of the consumer market. So, yes, many of them are dreaming of a life of leisure.

    Of course, this recession has changed things quite a bit… and perhaps in good way. Many have also come to grips that they may have to work longer. For example, my parents were hoping to retire early, but in light of the portfolio hit from this recession, my father decided to work longer. Afterwards, who knows?

    For people who have health issues, it is then all the more imperative that we get out of the consumer mentality and lean more towards saving mentality.

  5. gaby says:

    My husband and I are retiring to Northern Peru (Mancora), a country where we can afford a nice house near the beach and paying the bills.

  6. Katrina says:

    Short of moving to a foreign country, you can continue to work part time and volunteer and squeeze in the occasional golf game.

  7. I appreciate this post.

    It is very relevant and on time.

    There are a lot of people who are at retirement age RIGHT NOW, and don’t have the time to apply all of the methods that are subscribed for the younger generation.

  8. minny says:

    Interesting article and comments.

    I have just retired. The last five years I have spent saving and scaling down my standard of living – in fact I have lived on my retirement income so I had no sudden drop.

    I know it is a political hot potato in the US right now – but – here in the UK I have no health concerns as my medical care is taken care of by the NHS. (It isn’t at all like some of the statements I’ve heard and seen on the US media – truly!)

    I grow a lot of my own vegetables and live frugally.

    If I could give one piece of advice to anyone it would be to pay off your mortgage as quickly as you can. I didn’t and regret it. What it does is give you freedom. You can change your life however you want to follow dreams and paths otherwise closed to you. You can do so much more if that payment doesn’t hang over you.

  9. Jan says:

    We paid off the mortgage five years ago. We spent the last five years saving most of BOTH of our salaries and living on my husband’s pension. We are now “retired”. I work for three months- but at a very limited wage. Don’t see any “cracking the nest egg” any time soon!
    Except for the “International House Hunters” we hardly watch tv and neither of us play golf. I am 52 and he is 60. We have a long way to go since both parents lived into their 80′s.
    He has his wood working, I read and walk and think about quilting. It works for us.
    We have two retired sibs, and two others (the youngest) working like the devil to build their empire, one broke one, one newly divorced, one dead and another one a widow.
    Typical boomer families. Life is good in the boomer generation! It will be fun to see how the next generation struggles with our decision to retire before we die.

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