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Retirement without a safety net

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Monday, September 20, 2010
Posted: 4 pm ET

70-year-old Dodger manager Joe Torre is walking away from his job with no new offers in sight. "It's a decision you make without a safety net," he told the national press.

He says he's healthy and willing to work, but we know the market for 70-year-olds isn't great, even for those who are nine-time baseball All-Stars.

"If I say I never want to manage again, it closes the door and makes me feel old," Torre admits.

Even those who aren't as old as Torre know what he is talking about. If you were Torre and you had a great job, would you be leaving it?

Probably not. According to a survey by human resource research firm StrategyOne, 64 percent of working Americans doubt that they will ever be able to afford to retire and stop working.

Other related findings include:

  • 46 percent of workers have had their wages or salaries reduced over the past couple of years.
  • 44 percent are concerned about losing their jobs.
  • 37 percent say they are not working as many hours as they would like because there is not enough work available at their current jobs.
  • 40 percent say that their bosses expect them to work extra hours without raises or additional compensation.
  • 26 percent say they fear being fired if they take a day off.

If that's not enough to make you nervous (or sad), consider this recent study from Ameriprise Financial of retirement attitudes. It compared responses to to the same questions in 2005 and 2010, and found unsettling differences:

In 2005, 4 percent said they retired because of a layoff or a similar career setback. In 2010, 9 percent said they did.

Only 10 percent in 2005 said loss of income was the hardest thing about retirement. In 2010, that figure rose to 27 percent.

In 2005, 77 percent said they were "living their dream" in retirement. Today, only 57 percent can make that claim.

Not long ago most people's retirement planning included what was called the "three-legged stool" -- a guaranteed pension, an unalienable right to Social Security, and some savings you could dip into now and then or leave as legacy to your children and grandchildren. Working wasn't part of the plan.

Today, the retirement planning reality is different. No matter what your age, if you have a job and your employer is willing to have you continue to work, think hard before you sing the Johnny Paycheck anthem, "Take This Job and Shove It."

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