Reclaiming a Dream

Our grandparents and great-grandparents had a dream. As they toiled each day at a variety of jobs, raised families, worked in the home and on the farms, they dreamed of retirement. So vivid was their dream, they made it a reality by putting into place a plan in w hich they could stop working after a particular age. They saw themselves as enjoying life in the later years, a reward for all they’d done during the previous years of their lives. And, up until fairly recently, the dream was a reality.

The recent economic decline caused the fog to clear on that dream and for the rose colored glasses to come off. No more would the age of 65 mean retirement, but rather it would mean continuing to work. However, the problem with the dream didn’t happen overnight and didn’t have its start with the current economic slump.

Most retirees counted on social security. In the beginning, this was fine. It worked. However, as families had less children and the workforce was not replaced as evenly as before, the first inkling of trouble rose its head. Then, inflation, the economy, and the increase in the average life span finished it off.

I can remember as a child hearing about the lack of social security by the time I reached retirement age, so people knew well before now that something wasn’t working correctly for retirement. I’ve watched the age for retirement rise several times in the last few decades and realize the reason: it is an attempt to rebalance the system.

Consider the group approaching retirement now and part of the problem becomes clear. The baby boomers, one of the largest groups in the workforce, have reached the golden years. However, many of those baby boomers had very small families, so the number of people to fill their shoes doesn’t match the number of people preparing for retirement.

Now let’s see what this economic crisis has done to further help the loss of retirement by 65. Many would be retirees have seen a dramatic decrease in their 401(k) and pension plans as companies have faltered to stay afloat. There are a great number of companies that folded, taking with them the dreams of retirement.

This adds to another difficulty: unemployment for many of the younger crowd since a large faction of the people at retirement age no longer have the funds to retire.

So, now that the problems are laid out, what can be done about them? Those wishing to retire can take solace in the fact that working later does not have to be a terrible thing at all. If they love what they do or at least like what they do, then those who continue to work in the golden years can remain active and maintain the lifestyles they’ve grown accostumed to over the years. For those who are waiting to enter the work force, this little glitch in the plan has a silver lining as well. Find what interests and then learn to do it.

Many jobs that are available require a degree as they involve fields that can’t be learned on the job. Technology is one of these and is growing at a fast pace. Taking the time to get a degree may be the bridge to having jobs open up that are currently unavailable.

No matter the group you belong to, though, there are a few things you should consider. In order to find the dream of retirement again, you must establish a savings plan and follow a budget for long term security. This means living on the frugal side in order to rebuild or build nest eggs. In the long term, saving for the future is the only true method of attaining retirement, for any age group. Invest carefully and wisely. Don’t jump into anything without a bit of research and knowledge of all risks involved.