Boomers have been described by some demographers as the wealthiest in American history. However, this description belies the diversity of wealth within the cohort and the lack of plans many have made to prepare for their significantly increased life expectancy. Add the current worldwide economic crisis and Boomers face an even more precarious financial future...one that may include pension terminations, a decline in the value of their homes and investments, skyrocketing health care costs, and uncertain Social Security benefits.
The solution for many could involve cutting expenses and re-allocating assets. For most mid-life adults this will require a significant change in their financial habits. A 2008 study revealed that workers who are 7 years from retirement will, on average, have to cut their standard of living by about 24% to ensure they don't run out of money in retirement – and that was before the 2008 financial meltdown.
A growing reality for many may be to work longer than planned. There are actually some unexpected benefits to a prolonged work life, including the ability to delay accessing a retirement income. Social Security benefits will also be higher for those who stay in the workforce longer. Then, too, work has value beyond just the income and health care benefits it provides. Work that is meaningful and allows for individual flexibility can provide a sense of purpose and social involvement. Society, as well, could benefit from the continued expertise of Boomers in the workforce – perhaps even helping to redefine and transform the meaning and structure of work itself, not just for mid-life adults but for workers of all ages.