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Columns: Boomer Bucks
Barbara Mlotek Whelehan   Expert: Barbara Mlotek Whelehan
Boomer Bucks
"Working" does not appear in the definition of "retired"
Boomer Bucks

Retiring on your own terms
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"Whatever the motivation, these expectations are dramatically out of step with the experiences of people who are already retired -- just 12 percent of whom are currently working for pay," say the survey's authors.

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Let's mince words
When I look up the word "retirement" in Webster's New World College Dictionary, this is the definition I see:

n. 1 a retiring or being retired; specif., withdrawal from work, business, etc. because of age.

And here's the definition for "retired":

adj. 1 withdrawn or apart from the world; in seclusion; secluded 2a) having given up one's work, business, career, etc., esp. because of advanced age b) of or for such retired persons.

Notice that there is no reference to working in retirement. Should someone notify the lexicographers at Webster's that they've got it all wrong?

Actually, I take issue with both definitions. Yes, there's a connection between age and retirement, but I would prefer that the words "age" and "advanced age" in the above definitions be replaced by the word "choice."

The reason people will work in retirement
Want to know the real reason many of us will be working during retirement?

OK, I'm sure some of us will do it for the intellectual stimulation or for the social interactions. And, OK, some of us really love our jobs. But the big reason why is because we're not planning well for retirement.

Dallas Salisbury, president and chief executive officer of EBRI, attested to this recently at a Department of Labor hearing on "financial literacy and the role of the employer."

He says that companies do bear responsibility for educating their workers about retirement planning issues, but when resources and tools are provided, workers largely ignore them. The problem: Individuals and companies tend to focus on immediate needs or short-term goals rather than on long-term planning.

"The fact that over a third of new retirees depend entirely on Social Security, and two-thirds get a majority of their income from Social Security, provides clear evidence of these patterns," he testified.

Time to get out the binoculars
Bankrate sponsored its own survey in mid-September, asking American workers if they are saving the needed amount of money each month to achieve their retirement goals. Two-thirds of the respondents said they were either not able to save at all because of other financial responsibilities (32 percent) or they were able to save some money, but not enough (36 percent). Only 28 percent were able to achieve their monthly savings goal.

Another finding: More than half of the respondents in our survey tune out messages about retirement at least part of the time because the information can be discouraging.

Well, it certainly can be discouraging if we're not doing much about it!

Read more about that poll, in which Bankrate columnist Dr. Don Taylor weighs in with his perspective of what Americans need to do to achieve their retirement goals.

Next: "Bankrate's new Retirement Channel"
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