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The end of retirement as we know it

Older Americans no longer expect to have the kind of retirement their parents did, and that's not all bad.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 13, 2011 1:10PM

This post comes from Frederick E. Allen at partner site


Tens of millions of Americans lost big chunks of their retirement savings in the recession. Many lost their jobs, too, and quite a few are still out of work. Social Security and Medicare are against the ropes. How is anyone ever supposed to retire again?


A new report by SunAmerica Financial Group and Age Wave, a consultancy, puts revealing numbers to the situation.  Post continues after video.

The SunAmerica Retirement Re-Set report, based on a telephone survey of 1,001 Americans 55 and older, finds that those who haven't yet retired have typically pushed back their retirement age from 64 to 69.


And 82% say their chief financial goal is simply peace of mind, not accumulating wealth. Nearly half expect to have to support aging relatives, adult children, grandchildren and siblings, and of that fraction, 70% expect to be supporting their adult children.


The findings also indicate that before the recession, 62% of people 55 and older felt financially secure. Now 44% do. Back then, 28% considered themselves "worried." Now 39% do. (How much money will your 401k provide?


The upside?

So where's the bright side in all this? Ken Dychtwald, the founder of Age Wave, says, "Having been jolted by the last several years, Americans have adopted more realistic and pragmatic views of the possibilities before them. They now see retirement as a time for new priorities, new opportunities and new strategies for today's challenges."


Is that just putting a bright face on a bad situation? Here are a couple of relatively encouraging numbers:

  • Today 54% of people older than 55 consider retirement a new chapter in life, not just a winding down.
  • Ten years ago, only 38% felt that way.
  • And nearly two-thirds say they'd prefer to be doing some work in retirement "to stay active and involved."

As Dychtwald puts it, they want to "move back and forth between periods of work and leisure" in "a more active and productive version of retirement than their parents' generation."


That may be a good thing, whether or not it grows out of financial need. After all, as I reported earlier this year, several studies have found that keeping active, with a real sense of purpose, is the biggest key to living long and in good health. We may all be, in a way, better off unable to retire the way earlier generations did.


More on and MSN Money

Jul 13, 2011 2:34PM
I think this guy is nuts!   Where are the jobs that will keep us busy until we are 69?  No where to be seen for many many years to come.  Good Grief!
Jul 13, 2011 3:36PM
What I see happening:  people are laid of in their early 60s and cannot find work.  The theory that people will keep on working past 65 to 75 assumes that employers will KEEP them or HIRE them.. Not true!  I see many chronically unemployed people (especially men) in their early 60s -- they were laid off, no one will hire them because of their age (not legal, but there are many ways to skirt the law), they can't get Medicare, they can't retire, they are LOST.  This is an emerging trend that none of the pundits have noticed, yet!
Jul 13, 2011 3:34PM
I wonder if this is the same guy who wrote the article about how if gasoline prices went up to $5 per gallon it would be good and beneficial for us.  What a crackpot.  Now we are supposed to believe that retiring to some leisure is harming us?  Seems the only ones getting a cush retirement are politicians (some of them draw more in retirement per year than their salary was).
Jul 13, 2011 4:59PM

They might as well call it retirement....

Being laid off just before being able to draw a pension.....

No jobs to be found, especially if your over 55...

I would still like to be working, paying taxes, and saving for my retirement.....

But instead, started drawing my SS at 62, found a part time job, cause now I'm limited on how much I can make yearly....But I paid into SS for around 40 years, so its not so bad getting back some of your own money...?

If our government had not Stolen from the SS funds, things might be in better shape today...

Jul 13, 2011 4:21PM

Big Corporations love the savings they get outsourcing our jobs to China and lets make the seniors in this country work until they drop for minimum wage.

No health care for you!  No retirement benefits! fell and cant get up?  Stop whining...Back to work!

More Money... More Money...


My America is dying right in front of me.

Jul 13, 2011 10:27PM
when are WE THE PEOPLE going to ask our elected officials WHY they get a full retirement after only ONE term? not to mention free healthcare for life.... it is such an effen joke only it"s not funny. they don't have to pay back school loans etc. the list goes on. until WE THE PEOPLE get rid of this ruling elite and take back OUR country this b.s. will never end. tell your nieghbors tell anyone who will listen, it is not democrat or republican anymore.... become an AMERICAN. please
Jul 13, 2011 5:19PM
If politician take our Social Security . We should then take their retirement and benefits away a even trade.. See if they like it> No reporter has the guts to ask them (politicians) that. ABC< NBC< FOX and CBS do your D__________ job. 
Jul 13, 2011 4:08PM
No retirement, the ideal situation for a slave economy. It keeps everybody working hard to produce the wealth of the top 1 or 2 percent of the population, while keeping the rest of the population too exhausted to revolt.

Of course, this is just my opinion; I could be wrong.

Jul 13, 2011 4:12PM

There is a difference between "staying active", and not being able to "retire".  Very few people I know have been able to work into their 70's and not spent half of their time going from one doctor's apt to another.  Anyone who can look at the "bright side" of working at McDonalds or Wal-Mart (aka little China) until you are 69 or 70 because you got downsized at 60 is an idiot.


Instead of giving all of that stimulus money to GM, Madof, and the banks, they should have given it to everyone who had a retirement account - here is how it would have worked.  Give $5,000 to everyone who had a retirement acct like a 401.  They also got $5K for each year they were in it.  10 years, you get $50K.  That $ must stay in the acct OR you MUST retire.  say 50% did both.  Lots of money staying in the stock market or where you had invested.  LOTS of bonds etc are now being bought, lots of taxes being paid.  The 50% that retired?  Wow, you just created millions of jobs.  New people reducing costs making the companies more profitable - hey more fed revenue.  Yes I know this idea was radically simplistic, but it sure could not have been a bigger waste that what Congress and the last two White house idiots have done...

Jul 13, 2011 2:44PM
Who wants to retire to life of leisure anyway. Work until you drop dead on the job, and hopefully that won't be until you are 120 years old. The American dream, right.
Jul 15, 2011 9:53AM
i am not angry about having to continue work. I am however, angry at being jilted out of a great portion of my retirement accounts during the financial crisis. I am angry at the big banks and big market manipulators for engineering "deriviatives". I am angry at George Bush and the SEC for no oversite that led to failure to recognize the house of cards. I am angry at Barney Frank and his Fannie Mae boyfriend, Bill Clinton and all the other ___ holes that pushed subprime mortgages, again with no apparent analysis and oversight. And I'm angry that this system is still just as rigged as its ever been.
Jul 13, 2011 4:12PM

The sad part in all of this that any chance of real retirement for the 50 and under crowd is about zero.  Society no longer wants it's elderly to be free to enjoy atleast some portion of their lives. Society doesn't want the burden of supporting them  and yet society really doesn't want to employ them either because as we age we tend to slow down. So as people reach their 50's  no one wants you retire for atleast another 20 years but no one wants to give you a job because employers would rather hire younger workers they can push harder and pay less to. If they do hire older workers they want to pay at rates you likely made 30 years ago and are nothing short of insulting.

Reaganomics destroyed social security for the baby boomers 25 years ago. That was when social security had such a surplus the government felt it could rob the program blind and it would rebound..  That never worked because it was robbed too much. And 401ks were an invention of that time and unless you hopped on the bandwagon right away and salted away more money than most could ever afford that system wont save your retirement. 

Unlike my grand parents who were able to retire at 62. My retirement won't come until i'm either too sick to work or someone is digging a hole in the ground to stick me in.

In the meantime I face a bright future of  earning the same rate of pay i made 30 years ago until that happens.

Jul 13, 2011 3:03PM

This guy is part of the problem in the US.  I bet this man is either well off financially or very young.

Jul 13, 2011 7:06PM


So you say you don't want to pay for the retirement of others?  You don't want to pay for 50 years.  Well guess what  Every retiree who is collecting social security has paid into that system for just as long as you are complaining about paying in for in the future. Welcome to adulthood. You might as well get used to it now cause it's not going to get any better.

You said in your first post and I quote,"I don't want to be overly harsh, but why is it that I have to be forced to pay into a crumbling social security system so that you can retire? "

Well the answer is because as a part of society you are expected to contribute to society.  You don't want to pay for your parents retirement when they spent 18 years or more paying your way. When it comes to strangers thats that being part of society thing raising it's head.  If you went to public school my tax dollars helped pay for your education. Is it fair to me to pay for the education of others even when i dont have children of my own?  You bet it is!!!


Jul 13, 2011 6:37PM
Were "retired" having made the choice to take our SS @62 but at least one of us is going to have to go back to work. We thought we were prepared but with nearly a 0% return on a lifetime of savings we have found ourselves having to dip into our principle to make everyday expenses.. Seems "Big Ben" want's us all in the stock market, wish I had the know how and the nerve right now but who would have thought we would have years & years with the Fed manipulating the economy & almost nothing in the way of interest on something like a 5 year CD. Me thinks when "Big Ben" moves on he will be handsomely rewarded with a sweet job on wall street as the next Fed move, i.e. QE-3 will most certainly make a bundle for the wall street speculators and give the little people a dose of inflation that may finally finish the job.
Jul 13, 2011 6:15PM
Social security would have been sustainable if not for the fact that widows and dependents of men who died young were able to collect on it in the form of SSI.  The program was not designed for people to collect who never put money in.  Why does Social security foot the bill for kids' education when average kids cannot afford college who have living, hardworking parents?  The government can't keep adding disabled and disadvantaged people to the social security system and then blaming the economy and the baby boomers for the program's troubles.  The government needs to come up with alternatives to fund programs to help disabled people, widows, and orphans.  New immigrants and children adopted from outside the US should not be allowed onto social security and Medicare until these programs are funded well enough for the people who have paid into them to be provided for.
Jul 13, 2011 4:53PM
Hiaperture.. very few people living today were around to voice an opinion about social security when it was implemented. That's not an issue.  The fact is millions have been paying in this system for 40 plus years. It's a system that has worked for 75 years and is solvent for nearly another 30 years before any cuts would be needed. That  situation can be corrected with relatively minor adjustments. There have been some, since it's inception, that want to destroy the system period. We need to insure YOU will have social security, and a big part of that is how you vote.
Jul 13, 2011 5:46PM

For whatever bizarre reasoning, some people seem to think that retirement is a choice. A choice to leave working life, to have a good time, and that one can easily work into their 80's.


Excuse me?! No.


65-years today, is no different than 65 yesterday, last week, or in the past several decades. We grow old! We can no longer work, at least work with any degree of accuracy. Nothing has changed. Quite simply, you'll die working; and likely sooner, rather than later.


Plan to retire, please. Sell whatever you must...move to a cheaper a reverse mortgage...whatever, and take SS as soon as possible. Newsflash: Taking on-average of folks that pay into SS nationwide, SS is drawn on average for about 18-months time. Many die before they get there, while many die shortly thereafter. Retire already.Martini glass

Jul 13, 2011 4:54PM
just had this conversation yesterday with my dad.  He retires in a couple of months but will I ever be able to?  Unlikely given the economy, stock market and upcoming dissolution of Medicare and Social Security benefits (yes I can see the future).  What's even more scary is the trend of employers to offer less than a  40 hour work week.  How do you survive with no insurance benefits?  Poorly and with no end in sight is how.  Forget buying a home or dreaming of a 2 week vacation anymore.  Now my big dream is to have 3 months of savings in the bank and even that seems impossible.
Jul 13, 2011 3:57PM
At least this guy from Age Wave has the name right. This is all driven by big money to get more productivity out of the average Joe. Or, do you really believe that we all want to work till the day we die. 50 years ago, it only took one wage earner to support the family and they still got a retirement that was more like an extended vacation than anything else, and everyone felt they deserved it for the long number of years they had produced for the company. Then 30 years ago, it turned into a two wage earner household, but you still could look toward a retirement for all the years two people put in together to get the job done. Now, productivity and profits deem we need you to maybe get a job, and work till you fall into the grave and try to be happy while you are doing it... There is a reckoning coming, it's inevitable... 
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