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What about for younger retirees? What has changed in our modern economy?
One of the other challenges for boomers and younger retirees is that fewer people have lifelong pensions. They can’t just plan to live on a stream of income. In the 1970s and 1980s, when inflation was high, people with pensions were falling behind in purchasing power — while employers said they couldn’t afford cost-of-living adjustments. Back then, that opportunity for a lump sum instead of a pension was welcome. But the reverse of it is you can outlive it.
What is your best advice for baby boomers, even those who are younger?
If people are borderline on affording retirement, I would encourage them to work longer, even if it’s part-time, and build a bigger cushion. It shortens the period you need to be financially independent and allows assets to grow. Clients say, “If my expiration date was stamped on my wrist, I could plan.” Nowadays people are living so long, retirement could be a 30-year period!
What aspects of retirement planning go beyond finances?
People are so focused on planning financially that they forget to occupy themselves creatively. Everyone has time, energy and talent. These are resources beyond money. We frequently see people whose finances are no problem, but they’re still having adjustment issues. Finding your niche is the same if you’re looking for Jewish charities and volunteers as if you’re looking for something secular.
This interview has been edited for clarity and style.
Sarah Marian Seltzer is a writer in New York and a contributor to the Forward’s The Sisterhood blog. Find her at www.sarahmseltzer.com.