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Don’t quit your day job

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Monday, May 5, 2014
Posted: 4 pm ET

Here's more evidence that few of us are looking forward to our parents' retirement experiences.

Instead, the gold in our golden years is probably going to come from the money we are making, thanks to staying on the job, according to new research from Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, a nonprofit private foundation.

Transamerica found that 65 percent of baby boomers plan to work in retirement  or they never plan to retire at all. Only 21 percent say they are going to stop working altogether the day they walk out their employer's door.

The reason behind this retirement planning problem is mostly financial. Transamerica found that baby boomers' median household retirement savings is only $127,000. That means half have less and half have more. About 36 percent plan to live primarily on Social Security in retirement, compared with 26 percent in 2007 before the Great Recession. Even after you add together Social Security and the income likely to be derived from such small nest eggs, the total is unlikely to be enough. So, staying on the job looks inevitable.

"Baby boomers were hard hit by the decline in both home values and investment values. Many just haven't been able to recover," says Catherine Collinson, president of the Transamerica Institute and author of the white paper.

"The big question becomes how do baby boomers intend to continue to be employable?" she asks.

The study asked baby boomers that question, and their answers weren't all that encouraging.

  • Sixty-five percent say they are doing their best to stay healthy enough to work.
  • Fifty-four percent are working hard at their current job to convince the boss that they are worth keeping around.
  • Forty-one percent are polishing their current job skills to keep them up-to-date.

Collinson points out that far fewer are taking what she sees as equally important steps to transition to a lifetime of employment. "The reality is that in today's job market you really have to hustle," she says.

That includes taking steps like these that few say they are doing, Collinson points out.

  • Only 16 percent are networking and meeting new people who might turn into future employers.
  • Just 14 percent are researching new job opportunities.
  • Very few -- 5 percent -- are furthering their education to learn new job skills.

"There are employment opportunities out there, but they may not be the same jobs that boomers did in the past. People need to tune in to these opportunities and get some training if necessary," Collinson says.

Are you preparing for a retirement career change?

In the meantime, if you're too conservative, consider taking more risk with your retirement savings.

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