Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Retirement seminar

I just got home from the second session of a four-hour seminar about retirement. Not "how to retire" but about values regarding retirement and the psychology of retirement. This was an ALL (Academy of Lifelong Learning) event at the Bellingham Senior Center. About a dozen of us signed up for this class, taught by Helen Solomons, an interesting woman of indeterminate age who gave us some fascinating things to think about.

Almost everyone in the room was fully or partially retired.  I learned that the four generations around these days have totally different ideas about retirement, what it is and how it will play out. First, the pre-Boomers (born 1900-1945). That's me! The 75 million of us are loyal, used to scarcity, have faith in our institutions, and are patriotic.

Next come the 80 million Baby Boomers (and there were some in the seminar), born 1946-1964. Many hard-working, career-driven Boomers are in management positions today. They believe anything is possible. Following them are the Generation Xers (1965-1980): only 46 million of them, but they distrust institutions and personal relationships and have introduced a challenging dynamic into today's work place.  And the final group, the Generation Yers (or Millennials, born 1981-1999) are smart, pragmatic, realistic, optimistic, idealistic, and techno-savvy. And there are 76 million of them.

Every generation has a different idea of what retirement is (or will be for them). The pre-Boomers thought that if they played by the rules, everything would be okay and they would be taken care of in retirement. The Boomers wanted to fix the world, since they were the first generation to grow up with TV and saw Watergate, Vietnam, and the human rights movements develop. They believe anything is possible. But the Gen-Xers don't think they will ever be able to retire, while the Gen-Yers think they'd better start saving for retirement, since they've already turned 16.

In the room I heard from people who were forced into retirement and hated it, those who were voluntarily retired, some who wished they could have more meaning to their everyday lives, and those who LOVE retirement. Helen showed us that successful retirement contains a few constants:
  1. Having a reason to get up every day.
  2. Having a healthy spouse.  :-) :-)
  3. Maintaining or developing meaningful relationships.
  4. Having a sense of humor.
I think those were the most important things, I might have missed a few because I was busy writing and listening to the others. Helen told us that if we are interested in learning more, get the Second Edition of The New Retirement: the Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life by Jan Cullinane and Cathy FitzGerald. So! Next book on the list.

Have you read it? Are you happy in retirement? Or will you even be ABLE to retire?


  1. I am a Baby Boomer and just retired two years ago in June...I absolutely LOVE it and have a hard time figuring out why people wouldn't love it...all the things you never had the time to do before are now can do whatever you want when you want to...all those hobbies you put on hold before, all those relationships that took second seats because you were crazy busy with your careers can now be rekindled...there are a zillion opportunities to volunteer your time and expertise to someone else...there is absolutely NO reason to be lonely or bored because life has so much out there to learn about in participate in!

  2. P.S.I LOVE your new background and format!!!
    You may want to change your sidebar lettering from purple to black is a little hard to read against the background of the mountains there...but your new look!

  3. I was born in 1944, not quite a boomer, but as I liked to say, on the cutting edge.
    I retired five years ago. The first year I had a bit of culture shock - I missed the intellectual activity that came with the problem solving I was constantly engaged in as a teacher. But I didn't miss the stress, and it didn't take me long to fill my life with more than enough.

  4. Very interesting, and I think pretty well describes the different groups. I've never regretted retiring for a single moment. I've also never had to live alone. We'll see how I feel if that time ever comes. For now I'm very happy in retirement.

  5. I am very happy to be retired and have so much to do, to read, to see that time goes by so quickly unfortunately.

  6. We (Mr J and I) were both forced into an early retirement due to a plant closing. Transferring to another state was not an option for us because of his folks. Luckily, we have plenty to keep us busy! I love it, except for the budget. The government recently took over our pension plan. I do worry about the cost of living 40 years from now... Longevity runs on both sides.

  7. I guess I figure somehow it will all pan out...As a stay at home mom I don't exactly have the option to set aside money for retirement. This seems to have been a pretty interesting seminar. I also think that the sense of humor is required to be successful in anything!

  8. I'm half-retired and have always had lots of projects I love to do at home. I'll miss a couple of folks I've worked with for 20 years, but I can always go have lunch with them. And blogging is already providing me a whole new group of friends. Frankly, I can't wait.

  9. I retired a year ago April 17th. I love being retgired and have yet to get bored. I may spend too much time blogging, but I love writing and I love the people I've connected with as a result. I do miss the extra money; I'm trying to live frugally, as my social security and pension to not cover my expenses, and I dip into savings a little each month. I'm not going without the necessities at all, but doing a lot less restaurant hopping and less travel than pre-retirement. I should be able to make it through these first two years without having to withdraw from my 401k. I just don't want to outlive my savings!

  10. We are Boomers at 56 and 58. Retired for the last two years due to the economy. My husband's company merged with another just as the economy crashed. We are living in what used to be our vacation home, having been lucky enough to sell our home in Minnesota. (We still have all of our furniture in storage.) We love having time to do all the things we never were able to do, but retirement is not quite where we need to be just yet. Luckily we have a pension and savings so life hasn't changed too much for us due to not having a mortgage. What has changed for both my husband and myself is how we view work. He was always very hard working and driven in many ways. Now work is a means to an end. Gone is the competitiveness - now it would just provide for a better retirement, if and when he goes back to work. As for me, I feel better able to take the time to explore writing and other things I have always thought about doing, especially a book. We look forward to retirement in ways that we hadn't before. Especially traveling in short, spur of the moment, trips with our dog.

  11. We are both Baby Boomers with ten years difference in our ages. Hubby has at least a decade to go before retirement and I'm not quite there either. I can't imagine being bored or having nothing to do. If I can't find anything else I'll do a little more towards changing the world!!

  12. I am looking forward to retirement, however, I cannot retire for a while. So...knowing that, I have cut back to part-time work so that I can do some of what I want to do when I retire..NOW.

  13. We fall into that pre-Boomers category. I have been retired since 1976 when I quit teaching and even gave up my teaching retirement. Do I like it? Yes. I sure do because it gives me 24 hours a day to do those things I never had time to do when I was trying to make a living working. My wife just retired 5 years and likes it a lot. We both spend too much time on computers but then it is a lot better than punching a time clock.

    April Fools Day.
    I chose a picture I took 55 years ago of my Patty wearing a red dress. On April Fool's Day, April 1, 1955.

    I gave her a diamond engagement ring, and today, April 1, 2010 is my entry for theme day on my Brookville Daily Photo blog.

  14. At age 64, I am retired, but my husband, at age 61, is not. He plans to retire at age 70. When he turns 62 next year, we will apply for a reverse mortgage. It will be nice to have the extra cash for trips, helping our 2 kids financially, etc.

    During my retirement, I have published an anthology and 3 memoirs. Writing a blog also keeps me busy. I am happy, DJan.

  15. Thank you DJ for the birthday wishes, our mutual friend, Janine was sweet to do that.

    I'm a pre-Boomer, just turned 65 and it is a very happy time in my life. Enjoyed the post and will be following.

  16. This is a great looking blog, DJan. Beautiful colors. Retirement is a good subject. I am a boomer and stopped working last year. I am busy all day long and am surprised that it is time for bed already. My hubby in on meds for bipolar so he has a set schedule so I go to be the same time and read awhile. Sometimes I get up for another couple hours but I don't sleep as many hours as he does.

  17. THe only thoughts I've ever given to retirement are that I hope when the day comes I'll be in good enough health to be fully active and I'll have managed to maintain enough hobbies to keep me interested! That and that I should have a private savings account for whenever it happens because public pensions are really not enough to live off of... :s

    My dad "officiallY' retired at 50 from State Department, but with the idea to conitnue working here in Spain. He did some consulting work for IAEA a couple of times, tried starting up a company with friends... and is finally "ready" to truly retire... except he can't afford it! His pension is in dollars... and since the euro kicked in 8 years ago he has lost 50% of his pension in euros (although he gets paid a higher number of dollars). So he does some work as an interpreter in the courts here, whenever a Brit or anyone else who speaks English but no Spanish gets in trouble with the law. Helps my parents round out the month, but most of the time is boring for him.
    So definitely need to start a savings acct, and once I start earning a salary again put as much as possible in it every month!!!

    Oh, and I feel like a cross between a Gen-X and a Gen-Y. Born (barely) in one, identify a bit more with the other.

  18. We are old boomers, and had originally planned to retire this year..we did it two years early when we were 56 and 58..due to health issues and a slowing economy we closed our small business. I love being retired..I do what I want when I want..I could go back to work for a few years, I could buy an expensive camera..and a bunch of "stuff" if I did..but I probably won't..I like being home everyday just fine:)

  19. I am a baby boomer and beg my husband everyday to let me retire..........he says we can't aford for me to now. I want to retire so bad!! I know I would never be bored like some of my friends say they would be.


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