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Dreams of Retirement
By Molly L
Retirement is of critical importance to the baby boomer generation. It is a way of life for most of my grandparent’s generation, but a concept foreign to my generation. I am Molly, a student at Ithaca High School. I will be graduating this June with classmates I have known for many years. At this time of my life, the only thing that seems important is college and my immediate future, but what about fifty years from now? I hope to be retired by age 50 (I know you must be thinking I am living in looneyville), however, with the number of people in their fifties who are still working, retirement seems like a never land for my generation.
Retirement used to be a part of the great American Dream. However, today, whether it by choice or necessity, 34% of middle-class Americans see themselves working until the age of 80. This has to do with the lack of money being saved by Americans. Paying monthly bills are taking away from saving up for retirement. 59% of the middle class focus on paying bills, an increase of 7% from last year. With these statistics, it seems our nation is moving toward a trend of paying more attention to all types of bills and expenses rather than preparing for the golden years.
My grandfather retired in 1996 at age 63. He currently lives in Alfred, NY with his wife, Sue. Since retiring, they have taken numerous trips around the country and spent endless hours watching the different species of birds fly around their land. I talked to my grandfather and Sue about their own preparation for retirement and how they have transitioned into that type of lifestyle.
I asked them: Why did you decide to retire? ”I had been working for about 33 years and wanted to concentrate on doing some other type of activities like travel, golf, visiting family,” said my grandfather. For Sue, her office was closing in 1999 and being moved to another location, and she was offered early retirement.
To prepare in earlier years for retirement, my grandfather started investing in retirement funds as soon as he started to work, so when he retired, he had no concern about his financial needs. ”I began planning for early retirement about 10 years before my retirement date,” he said. Sue also invested in retirement funds, but she really didn’t plan for early retirement. ”It came about unexpectedly due to the closing of my office,” she said.
So, how is retired life? ”Other than the positive contact with people both in my office and professionally. I don’t miss the daily schedule,” said my grandfather. Sue agrees, “I do miss seeing the people that I used to work with and also the satisfaction of completing work tasks. I do not miss the stress associated with the job.” Sue is happy with not having a definite daily schedule or the stress associated with deadlines at work, although she points out that she did enjoy her professional career. ”The fact that I had the financial stability of my investments to rely on, in addition to Social Security, enables me to live a comparatively carefree and enjoyable life.”
On the other hand, my 52 year old mother who hopes to retire soon finds that realistically, she will be working for many more years. I asked her similar questions to those of my grandparents. One generation later and her answers are very different from those of her retired parents. (Listen to the full story to hear from her.)
When I think about the responses of the past two generations, I begin to wonder what the answers of the third generation, my generation, will be. As of 2012, the average retirement age for an American was 67 years old. Sixty-seven is nearly ten years older than the average retirement age during the mid 1990s. It seems the opportunity to achieve the dream of retirement is fading away.
I know my generation has a large amount of time before anything associated with retirement comes to mind, but when is the right time to start preparing? I am going to start preparing as soon as any sort of income comes my way because, who knows, maybe our economy will get back on track. Maybe by the age of 53, I will be laying in the middle of a beach on the Florida Coast enjoying a pina colada.