A century ago, retirement was virtually unknown to most folks. One continued to work until death. Of course, very few lived to their 70s and 80s. A half century ago, retirement was becoming a regular part of American culture, but it was generally viewed as a relatively short period of years marked by reduced activity and significantly less financial need.
Modern retirement has different characteristics and temperaments from earlier retirements. Your planning for retirement should reflect these changes. Here are six ways your retirement will differ from previous generations:
1. Many retirees will live a long and active life in retirement that may be as much as a third of ones total life span.
2. Retirement will be divided into several phases: a) retirement earnings phase with continued work, b) active “go-go” phase marked by pursuit of the “good life,” c) passive “slow-go” phase, d) final phases characterized by failing health
3. The cost of retirement lifestyle will be similar to the cost of pre-retirement lifestyle. Increased activity, added interests and new technologies mean the costs of living in retirement will be much higher in proportion to one’s working years than was true in the past. Increased medical cost will be an increasingly important factor.
4. Inflation will increase the need for income by two or three times during retirement.
5. Taxes, estate planning and insurance have become vital parts of the retirement planning process. Recent changes in tax laws increase the need for awareness of these issues as you plan for retirement. Many have purchased or are considering the need for long term care insurance.
6. Retirement issues are unique for everyone. More people are “retiring” early. At the same time, an increased number of people are working well into the 70s. A growing segment of our population are saying they never plan to retire—almost like it was a century ago.
The question for you as an individual is, “Have you applied these factors to your own retirement planning?” Too many are barely saving enough for the old retirement. Are you saving enough for the new retirement?
Don Spencer is the church financial benefits consultant for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.