Tag Archives: recession

This is Not Your Mother’s Retirement

23 Oct

In 2001, the first of the Baby Boomer generation reached what used to be known as retirement age. Between 8,000-10,000 baby boomers will be turning 65 every day for the next eighteen years. Rumor has it over half the Baby Boomers in America are going to celebrate their 100th birthday and beyond.  The social and economic impact of this data makes me seriously question whether 65 will really be the magic retirement number for Boomers.

 Case in point — my husband.  Jim is turning 65 next May.  He has headed up our market research firm for the past 35 years, conducting survey research for political campaigns, environmental initiatives, and corporate clients.  This business provided well for our family up until the 2008 recession hit.    Our previously steady clientele virtually became non-existent over the past few years.  It was a shock to our wallets and our spirits to witness how rapidly our business dwindled.

 But, we are Boomers after all, and Boomers have resilience built into our very DNA.  Jim decided to completely change careers.  Within a few months, he has gone from being a Ph.D. expert in the field of communication and survey research, to being the owner of a property management franchise.  He is now managing a staff of five and learning an entirely new industry.  He has no illusions about retiring next May nor does he want to.  The past four years have been a struggle, as has been the case for many families.  Jim has reinvented himself at 64.  He loves being productive and the mental stimulation of learning a new field.Harvard economist, Edward Glaeser suggested in a recent New York Times article that, “Retirement seems out of the question for increasing numbers of Americans who are saddled with debt and whose savings evaporated during the recent bust.”  This description applies to a lot of people in our generation.  But all does not have to be bleak and scary.  If we are going to live to be a hopefully healthy 100, let’s try something new. Entrepreneurship is exploding in areas like West Palm Beach, which have historically been retirement communities.  So come on, this is your chance to try out that business concept you’ve thought about for years…. This is not your mother (or father’s) version of retirement.  It’s all yours to define.

Jim Kitchens

Boomers vs. Millennials: Which Generation Has the Most Stress?

19 Mar

According to a February article in the Huffington Post, Millennials in the Millennial Generation (also known as Generation Y, those born in the early 1980s through the year 2000) are the most stressed out demographic group.  A competing article, however, in The New York Times, also published in February, crowned Boomers as the demographic group most injured by the current recession and its aftermath.

As a Baby Boomer with Millennial children, I was curious as to what my peers thought about this issue.  I was fascinated by the findings of a new BoomerOpinions survey asking the following question: Which of these two generations (the Boomers or the Millennials) do you think are undergoing the most stress as a result of the recent economic crisis?  Fifty-one percent of the Baby Boomer respondents said they believed both generations were experiencing equal amounts of stress.

The data from this survey revealed Boomers are experiencing considerable anxiety about their adult children. Don’t forget these are the parents of the kids in the Millennial Generation, and Boomer parents tend to only be as happy as their saddest child.  41% say they consider it at least a somewhat serious problem that their children have incurred student loans;  45% say their adult children have been unable to find a job of their choice.  Baby Boomers haven’t been labeled “Generation Squeeze” for naught.   Thirty-one percent (31%) are caring for aging parents, while 33% are supporting adult children.

Admittedly I’m a little biased given my status as a Boomer, but in a stress competition, I would have to say Boomers win.  They not only have to worry about their own financial plights, but those of their children as well.  No matter how much our kids love us, they generally will assert their own needs before anyone else’s.  Thus, their stress is focused on their own individual situation while Boomer anxiety is divided between themselves and their children.  But, even if Boomers win in this contest, I don’t think the prize is one worth coveting.

If you are a Baby Boomer and would like to participate in BoomerOpinions online surveys, visit

http://boomers.micropanel.com/ to sign up.  It is a cool site.

Boomers vs. Millennials

Boomers vs. Millennials

Budding Boomer Businesses

6 Mar

A good deal has been reported in the media about members of younger generations failing to find employment following graduation. We’ve also heard it said retirees are earning virtually no interest on their investments/savings. But data from the Labor Department indicates Baby Boomers are the greatest victims of the latest recession. According to a recent article in the New York Times, Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) have lost the most earning power of any age group. Household incomes among members of this group are down 10% from what they were three years ago. Retirement savings and home values fell just as Baby Boomers were cresting toward retirement. Not only is their income on the decline, but 31% of this age group are caring for aging parents and still parenting (and supporting) adult children. According to the NY Times article, Boomers have earned the nickname- “Generation Squeeze”. Loss of health care often accompanies the loss of a job among Boomers not yet eligible for Medicare. Economists at Wellesley College suggest life expectancy could decline by as much as three years for this demographic group largely because of limited access to health care. Aging Boomers often work two and three part-time jobs to replace previous salaries. The stress and extended work day/week further contributes to compromised health.

Wow, as a Lady Boomer I find these statistics more than a little depressing. But they made me think of another article I read, also in the New York Times entitled, Goodbye Golden Years. Harvard economist, Edward Glaeser cited statistics similar to those above. He noted, “Retirement seems out of the question for increasing numbers of Americans who are saddled with debt and whose savings evaporated during the recent bust.” But rather than wallowing in depression and self doubt, Glaser suggested that what American Baby Boomers need is more entrepreneurship.

Glaser pointed out that West Palm Beach, a retiree haven, has the highest self-employment rate of any metropolitan area in the nation, consistent with other areas in the country attracting older Americans. Self-employment makes sense because it allows for more control over working hours and conditions. And our generation loves control.
Many of us have spent years waking up at 6:00 am to be at a job we found depleting. If we are not going to be able to kick back, drive a golf cart and play bridge all day, lets envision a different kind of retirement for ourselves. Here are a few suggestions:

– Develop an exercise plan; join a YMCA or other gym; walk or ride a bike. We are going to need to stay healthy for this next phase, and exercise is a critical component. Make sure your employment endeavors can accommodate your exercise schedule, so you don’t have to be going to the gym at 5:30 in the morning.

-Choose an enterprise that fits your circadian rhythm (internal clock) one that allows you to arise and go to bed at a time best suited for you
-delve into your psyche through journaling or quiet reflections; explore what you have a passion for. You may want to undergo a personality assessment to discover a field that suits you.

-Make it fun. We are the generation who invented rock and roll. We like to have fun.

I’m not trying to offer Pollyanna platitudes here, but I also think we have to make chicken salad out of chicken #### (expletive deleted). This economic recession has adversely impacted virtually everyone I know, including myself. But I do think we have to find some element of goodness in the midst of adversity.

Now is your chance…Here’s to meeting your entrepreneurial self this year.