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Baby Boomers Face a Different Kind of Retirement

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The first of the nation’s 77 million baby boomers began hitting 65 years old in early 2011. It marked a milestone in the graying of America because by 2030, the 65-plus segment will make up 20% of the population. However, it appears the financial picture for these boomers is grim.

A survey of more than 200 retired and soon-to-be-retired Americans, commissioned by CESI, found that almost 60% of respondents had saved roughly $50,000 or less for retirement. Financial planners estimate those savings may last five years while boomers can expect to live another 20-25 years. It’s perhaps no surprise then that 65% plan to continue working in some capacity once they retire. The survey also found while only 57% of those surveyed believe they will be debt free before retirement, only 51% of those planning to retire soon are considering delaying retirement until they get out of debt.

CESI’s debt counselors say the survey results aren’t surprising and that boomers, who have a tradition of being “trailblazers,” are changing the rules of retirement.

“While their retirement years may be met by financial challenges, the good news for boomers is the vitality and health of the population and the flexibility of workplaces,” said Neil Ellington, Executive Vice President of CESI. “This generation doesn’t look at retirement as the end of a career. Now for a variety of reasons, boomers are deciding to keep working. But we are ready to help with counseling clients about how to pay off their debts as well as develop better money management practices. The golden years can’t be golden, even if you’re a baby boomer, if you’re sinking in a sea of red ink.”

Veronica Johnson* is 55, and one of those boomers thinking about what retirement will look like. She’s married with two children and two grandchildren. However $25,000 in credit card debt made any kind of retirement planning little more than wishful thinking.

“I used to have credit cards from several different stores and I would move them around to whatever had the lower balance. I did that until it just got out of control,” said Johnson. “I don’t remember what I even bought on the cards. We have good jobs, my grown kids have good jobs, and moving into a new house in 2005 turned into a reality check. I decided I needed to get my life in order.”

Johnson contacted CESI and enrolled in what she called an “AA program for people with credit card debt.” CESI helped her pay off her debt and sent her through education courses to learn to live without credit cards. It’s taken four years but all five credit cards are paid off and she feels her life and retirement plans are back in order. The budget she created to pay back her debts allowed her to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“My husband and I have been married for 31 years, we have a good family, and while we’re not sure what retirement will be like, we didn’t want our family to be faced with this debt,” said Johnson.

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Filed Under: Featured, Retirement, Saving

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