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4 Reasons Your Retirement Is Nothing Like Mom’s


Your parents’ idea of retirement probably looked something like this: Quit working completely, play a little golf, maybe pick up a new hobby, but most of all — chill.  But for baby boomers, the idea of golf or knitting 24/7 just doesn’t cut it.

More than two in three middle-class boomers say that they expect their retirement will be “drastically” different than their parents, according to a new study by Bankers Life and Casualty Company’s Center for Secure Retirement.  “The current generation of seniors saw retirement as really slowing down,” says Scott Perry, the president of Bankers Life and Casualty Company, a Chicago-based insurance company.  “Boomers see things differently.”

Here are four reasons boomers cited for why their retirement will be different than their parents’:

  • We’ll keep working. Nearly eight in ten (78%) of boomers say they plan to work longer than their parents did.  This is driven both by necessity and choice, says Perry.  More than half (57%) will work in retirement because of financial concerns, but the remaining boomers want to do it to stay active or have something meaningful to do with their time.
  • We’re staying fit. More than eight in ten (81%) of boomers say that staying physically fit is very important to them.  Whereas older generations looked at retirement as a time of extreme relaxation, “boomers realize they’re going to live longer so they’re concerned about keeping active to protect their health,” Perry says.  “They also want to stay in good physical health so that they can fully enjoy their retirement years.”
  • We’ll never be irrelevant. Seventy-seven percent of boomers think it’s important to keep up with technology in retirement.  (On the other hand, older generations looked at retirement as a kind of unplugging from the grid, Perry says.)  A big part of this is so they can keep up with their children and grandchildren by doing things like sharing pictures, says Perry.  Another big factor is that they want to remain independent for as long as possible, he says. So rather than have to call someone for help when, say, they can’t figure out how to email a photo from their iPhone, they want to just be able to go online and look it up.
  • We’ll keep on learning. More than 60% of boomers say it’s very important that they learn a new skill in retirement (just 21% of them think that this was important to their parents though), and more than one in three wants to go back to school.

All in all, “active lifestyle defines the new retirement,” the study concludes.  So whether it’s learning to speak Spanish, snagging the new Andriod phone or doing morning yoga in the park, we can expect boomers’ “retirement” to look, well, not much like “retirement.”

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About Encore

  • Encore examines the changing nature of retirement, from new rules and guidelines for financial security to the shifting identities and priorities of today’s retirees. The blog also explores news that affects retirement, from the Wall Street Journal Digital Network and around the web. Lead bloggers are reporter Catey Hill and senior editor Jeremy Olshan. Other contributors include The Wall Street Journal’s retirement columnists Glenn Ruffenach and Anne Tergesen; the Director for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Alicia Munnell; and the Director of Research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, Michael Kitces, CFP.