Retirement Redefined

Baby boomers and younger workers have a thing or two to learn from current retirees.

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Will most baby boomers truly retire? The old mainstays of golf, grandkids and travel haven’t been enough to satisfy many retirees from previous generations. With the great amounts of energy and success that exist within the baby boomer generation, retirement isn’t likely to sustain their attention much longer than it did their parents’.

If the current generation of retirees is any indication, baby boomers and younger workers alike have a thing or two to learn from their older counterparts. A 2006 Putnam Investments study showed that about a third of America’s more than 20 million retirees returned to work for at least 15 hours a week, most of them after less than a year in retirement. Two-thirds said they do so because they wanted to, not because they needed to financially.

The return to work may signal a problem that most retirees don’t anticipate: having something fulfilling to do. The keyword is fulfilling, and it’s the driving force behind a return to work. Of course, the added income and the potential health insurance benefits don’t hurt either. The phenomenon has become so recognized that In areas with large and increasing populations of retirees, like Arizona, many employers are catering to the retired crowd. Certain companies offer specific work opportunities crafted for retired people. In Tempe, Ariz., Wells Fargo has a special processing center that hires mostly retirees, whom
they have nicknamed “Silver Bullets.”

The Putnam study didn’t focus just on work after retirement. It also emphasized several key reminders for younger workers. Even though the current generation of retirees is relatively financially stable, they still have concerns about running out of money, and they’re worried younger people will do the same. They emphasized starting retirement savings early, developing a retirement plan and saving as much as you can both through your workplace program and on your own.

No one expects the baby boomer generation to be content with life in retirement, which is why planning post-retirement activities, both work and play, is so important. And it’s just as important for younger workers to plan for such activities too. No matter your age, informing your financial professional of your desire to work and your hobbies and interests will make your retirement plan that much more complete.