Thursday, November 17, 2011

Get Real about Retirement

"Eighty is the new 65," says Joseph Ready, executive vice president of Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement & Trust to Bloomberg Businessweek about his company's survey results that show the majority of respondents planning to work well into old age. One in four expects to work until age 80 (at least!) because of insufficient savings.

If working to age 80 and beyond is in your retirement plan, then you should also plan to live on dog food, because that's what you will have to eat if you think you can support yourself by holding down a job at 80. Just imagine how much your employer and co-workers will appreciate you when you are...
  • incapable of stooping, bending, or kneeling (28 percent)
  • incapable of standing for two hours (33 percent)
  • incapable of climbing 10 steps without resting (21 percent)
  • incapable of walking even a quarter of a mile (28 percent)
  • incontinent (30 percent)
  • coping with arthritis (54 percent)
  • coping with diabetes (19 percent)
  • hard of hearing (45 percent) 
  • having trouble seeing (17 percent)
  • going to the doctor 10 or more times a year (22 percent)
These numbers, all from the National Health Interview Survey or the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, are not trivial. They explain why only 7 percent of people aged 75 or older were in the labor force in 2010. Way back in 1955--before older Americans started to get all those cushy benefits like Medicare and Social Security indexed to inflation--only 19 percent of of men and 4 percent of women aged 75 or older were in the labor force. I have said it before and I will say it again: Planning not to retire is not a retirement plan.

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