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Worrying about retirement

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Monday, May 16, 2011
Posted: 1 pm ET

The retirement planning Nervous Nellies among us are legion.

Two more studies released today say once again, that boomers are nervous about retirement.

The Society of Actuaries study reported that 58 percent of retirees and 71 percent of pre-retirees were concerned about the impact of inflation on the value of their savings and investments.

MFS Investment Management measured the sentiments of investors who report having between $100,000 and $1 million in investable assets, and it  reflects more angst. While 41 percent of investors in this economically comfortable category consider themselves hopeful that they'll be able to live as they want in retirement, 17 percent say they are pessimistic about their retirement prospects and 16 percent say they are fearful.

Approximately, 49 percent surveyed agreed with the statement: "Over the past few years, I've lowered my expectations about what life will be like in retirement."

Meanwhile, older is getting better in the eyes of major marketers.

The New York Times published a piece Saturday on this phenomenon, including how previously youth-focused brands like NBC, CBS, Jeep and shoe company Skechers have now refocused their advertising on consumers older than 55.

The reason is obvious and should be reassuring to us old dogs -- older people have money and some younger people don't. The New York Times pointed out these employment and income numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Unemployment rates:

  • 20 to 24 years old -- 14.2 percent.
  • 25 to 34 -- 9.4 percent.
  • 55 to 64 -- 6.2 percent.

Median weekly earnings:

  • 20 to 24 -- $454.
  • 25 to 34 -- $682.
  • 45 to 54 -- $844.
  • 55 to 64 -- $860.

Part of the reason so many boomers and researchers are concerned about boomer retirements is that the yardstick they use to measure readiness assumes that we're all going to follow the model of our parents -- stop working and play golf. For many, that's clearly a flawed assumption. Just because boomer lives are different than the lives of our parents when they were the age we are now doesn't necessarily predict economic calamity.

Our whole lives have been different than those of our parents. We've "thought differently" and muddled along OK so far. Why should we be in a hurry now to follow in the path of mom and dad?

Just keep plugging away, working and saving and having confidence that we'll figure it out without having to adopt an all-kibble diet.

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