Baby Boomers are defined as being born between the years of 1946 and 1964. This generation includes around 76 million Americans. This year, the oldest of boomers are celebrating their milestone birthday of 70; and the youngest is now 52 years old, not yet eligible to become an AARP member.
So what makes a baby boomer? After World War II ended and as America was improving from the Great Depression, people celebrated. It was a time of peace, of recovery and most of all: love. This time of celebration resulted in a sharp increase or "boom" of babies being born and marked the beginning of this generation. As these babies are now the next generation of seniors, what struggles are they facing?
Baby Boomers were in stark contrast to their frugal parents. While the prior generation was known as planners and savers, the majority of boomers were not. According to a Harris Interactive poll in 2011, 25% of boomers did not have any money saved for retirement, and 26% had no personal savings at all.
Compounding these statistics is their mentality towards the finer things in life. Notoriously, this generation values luxury and shies away from anything with the label of "middle-class". This mindset drastically affects how and when they are retiring. Not surprisingly, only the best will do even if they can't afford it.
The result of their plight is that many are working longer. The retirement age is creeping up past 65, and boomers are working longer out of necessity.
“In their youth, boomers’ savings went to buying larger and larger homes, a boat, maybe jet skis, and paid for their kid’s college. Now they don’t have the luxury of thinking about retirement. The idea of a traditional retirement community is probably not something they can afford,” says David Ewing, Executive Director of Franklin Park Alamo Heights.
So where does this leave them? The senior living industry is working diligently to adapt to the boomers’ struggles as they age. Across the country, senior living communities are trying to accommodate their desires for luxury on a moderate budget. While it is difficult, there is hope for those who are in the last half of the boomer generation.
It’s not too late to increase your confidence when it comes to retirement. We recommend following these steps:
- Take an honest look at your retirement needs – While you may have high expectations of what your retirement will be, evaluate your lifestyle for areas where you can compromise.
- Take stock of your retirement resources – Whether it be looking at your savings, considering your assets or looking for outside agencies and programs that can supplement your finances.
- Meet with a financial advisor – Some people do this for a living and are excellent at what they do. Some even specialize in this "Boomer Financial Crisis".
- Get going, NOW – While time is extremely limited, it's not too late. So take action to increase your retirement funds as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, boomers who have not planned and do not plan moving forward will have tough choices in their future. Rather than focusing on the past, , dedicate time to create a better future.