Of all my Baby Boomer friends, only one or two have what financial professionals preach as “adequate” retirement savings. Most have $100,000 or less in financial reserves. Some much less. Many saw their retirement savings and home equity destroyed by the 2008 Great Recession. So are they depressed? Are they living in squalor, afraid of winding up on the street? No. Just the opposite.
After getting over the Great Recession and venting their anger at the financial industry and the government, Boomers have come to grips with reality. Here we are. How can we make the best of the situation?
For starters, Boomers have accepted that their retirement will be full of risks. There are many things we can do nothing about. Examples include the financial impact of a major illness and annual Social Security increases that fall far short of inflation. Few have mortgage-free homes, and if a spouse dies, the surviving Boomer may not be able to make house payments. And so on.
There is nothing we can do about these situations. This is the way it is. Unless we win the Lotto or Publisher Clearinghouse shows up on our doorstep, nothing will change. This is our retirement reality.
Rather than cringing under the bed sheets, our generation has accepted the hand we’ve been dealt. We have found ways to carve out comfortable retirements in this brave new world.
Boomers have learned how to stretch their retirement dollars. Almost all have downsized their lifestyles to accommodate reality. Many have carved out new lives south of the border. Others have started part-time home-based businesses to supplement their retirement income. We have taken responsibility for our situation and are dealing with it.
Fear is not a big factor in our lives. Boomers have reconciled their “worse case” fears and learned to live with things that they can do nothing about. Rather, we focus on the good stuff in our lives – the grandkids, travel, our pets, recreation, causes, books, movies, golf…the activities that add joy to our existence.
We long ago learned that life has cycles – good times followed by trying times, then more good times. Although we prepare for the bad times as best we can, there is only so much that can be done within our circumstances. Boomers enjoy the good times when they arrive. We don’t let the inevitable bad times consume us.
Boomers have a profound gratefulness for each day. One can have a wonderful retirement despite being what financial analysts lament as a doomed generation. We don’t drink that kool-aid. Boomers don’t need to drive a new car, live in a McMansion or take luxury cruises to be happy. And even if our future includes Medicaid at some point, we will roll with the punches and make the most of it.
Today’s retiring Baby Boomers realize (more so than others) that life has so many unpredictable events that it makes no sense to spend our days worrying about all the unknowns. We do what we can to buffer the impact of calamities, but live our lives in the moment. Boomers are making the best of what we have. Love, friends, and good health are our priorities. Life is good. We are rich!