General Question

laureth's avatar

Considering the demographics shift, what are you doing to plan for retirement?

Asked by laureth (27083 points ) September 18th, 2011

This Canadian blogger wrote a thought-provoking post about how changing demographics will affect our plans for retirement.

Using “baking bread” as an analogy for taking care of your own needs, he explores what the options are for us, once we’re too old to bake our own bread. For instance, we could rely on our children to bake bread for us. Or, we could invest in bakeries, who repay our capital investment with bread in our old age. There are a number of ways he suggests, but all of them are subject to the pressure of changing demographics, and may be unable to provide as much bread for us as we expect.

Do you think your retirement plan can beat demographics, or have you considered this as a factor when planning? How do you think you will fare, when you can no longer bake your own bread?

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30 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

I’m planning to not retire.

I figure that between my IRAs, 401(k), Social Security, the equity I have in my home and various other savings… that I’ll have to postpone retirement until 5 years after I die.

Coloma's avatar

I WAS semi retired 5–6 years ago, not anymore.
Only needing “supplemental” income, which I generated through part time work and skimming interest off some high yield accounts.

Those days in the sun are long gone.
I have no idea whats to come, but full retirement is not in the cards, short of winning the lottery.

Oh well…easy come, easy go…whatcha’ gonna do?

laureth's avatar

Planning to not retire is fine, because people are healthy and productive longer nowadays than when the retirement age was set around 65. I fully expect to be working (at least growing my own food) well into old age. But I’m not necessarily speaking of that age between 65–80, where we can still work but would choose not to, if that were viable. I mean in the 80s, 90s and beyond, when “continuing to work” is not really an option.

Example: My grandpa died this summer at the age of 84. He had lung cancer (although he stopped smoking in his early 30s) and as time went by, he wasn’t physically able to do much beyond fill up the bird feeder each day so he and his wife could watch the pretty goldfinches. Even being the greeter at a Wal*Mart was not an option. That’s the kind of “retirement” I’m talking about.

Jaxk's avatar

@CWOTUS

That’s considered early retirement these days.

marinelife's avatar

I plan to take myself out when the time comes.

I have watched my mother struggle with falling, and my sisters and I struggle with her care and with her stubbornness.

I now have just had difficulties with my mother-in-law who is suffering from dementia, but is unaware of it. This past week she became convinced that she had thrown away a set of important papers only to have my husband find out that she had mailed them back and the company had received them, but she had forgotten.

In both cases, a lot of care by children has been required.

Yet, we don’t have children. I can’t see dumping ur old age care on my nephews. I don’t think we’ll have the money for assisted living (which is very expensive) or, God forbid, nursing home care.

jerv's avatar

To my knowledge, none of my blood relatives have ever lived to see 65. That renders retirement rather moot for me. Besides, the last time I did the math, to retire at 68 with the same income I have now (which probably won’t be enough after 30 years of inflation) I would need to invest nearly half of my net income in things that yield higher returns than any no/low-risk investments offer right now, so there really isn’t much chance of me ever being able to retire even if I set a family record for longevity.

filmfann's avatar

I had planned to retire in 4½ years, but now due to the dropping home values, and my 401k, will probably delay that 2 years.
My wife screams every time this becomes more obvious. She is anxious to move to the new place.

bkcunningham's avatar

@laureth, my husband retired earlier this year at 53. We live in a retirement community in Florida with a population near 80,000. I am amazed everyday at the people I meet who are in their 80s and 90s (I know two people who are 100!) who are still very active, work and play daily. They have more energy and projects than we do. Some are perfectly healthy, others; who are just as active, are not so blessed healthwise, but it doesn’t stop them. I see people in wheelchairs, scooters, crutches, polio, amputees, you name it, who are out and about and enjoying their retirement.

My dad just turned 92. Until a few month ago (pnemonia got the best of his energy), he volunteered three days a week at a local food pantry and goes to church every Sunday. My sister and her husband helped him garden this summer, he fills up his humming bird feeders and bird feeders, visits his neighbors and enjoys life.

Not a day goes by that I’m not introduced to some new volunteer/community project; educational opportunity; gathering place for hobbies, clubs; business opportunity; exercise class…you name it; it is here. It is really paradise here. I hope life continues as it is now and keep improving in this community as I get older and older. What an inspiration.

gondwanalon's avatar

First of all retirement is over-rated. One old guy once told me, “If you ever want to feel totally useless then retire.” My opinion is that retirement is not for the weak. Some folks struggle trying to find interesting, meaningful and or challenging things to do with their retirement time.

As far as financing retirement is concerned my wife and I are in good shape. We have worked very hard for the last 30 years to develop very diversified investments in the stock market, properties and precious metals. We are 60 now and are not counting on getting any so called “Social Security” money. In fact we are going to delay applying for it until age 70 in which you can collect as much as 3 times the amount offered at age 62.

I like the bread metaphor. Our stock market loaf of bread has been punched down many times over the years but it just keeps on rising. What I worry about is the ever devaluation of the U.S. dollar. When we finally start to eat our huge loaf of bread it may be nearly hollow inside as paper dollars become worth less and less.

BeccaBoo's avatar

Die poor and sponge off my kids!!!

Failing that dip into my savings, buy 2 houses one in Scotland and one in the South Coast somewhere and spend at least 4 months in each and then 4 months between all my kids!!

I intend to die old, happy, poor and surrounded with grandchildren that I can give my property too!

Coloma's avatar

@gondwanalon

I disagree, I love not having to work full time, getting in touch with our “being” is what is under rated. Sadly, so many of us have been programmed into a state of frenetic “doing”, that the idea of actually in-joying our being is seen as lazy and unproductive.

I say bullshit to that! I can happily spend days doing no-thing, other than just keeping up around my little property and taking in the bliss of nature and solitude.

I am much more in the camp of ” we are not human doings, we are human beings.”

I have lived my life in the moment, because putting all ones eggs into the retirement basket often means you will be dead before you really ever live. lol

The worst kind of poverty is the poverty of putting off living until some future date that does not exist. ;-)

bkcunningham's avatar

OMgoodness, @Coloma. That was beautiful.

jerv's avatar

Notice that the US is the only nation that has real issues with this?

incendiary_dan's avatar

Two words: acorn bread.

I plan to not need money, which in itself is a bit of work, but it’s work I like and practically like play anyway.

bkcunningham's avatar

@incendiary_dan, if you ever need acorns, let me know. I have two giganitc oak trees on my property. A water oak and a live oak. Acorns galore.

Coloma's avatar

@incendiary_dan

Same over here, the acorns are starting to “fall” now. Infact, I got beaned with one the other day, attack of the oak trees is building. lol

gondwanalon's avatar

@Coloma We work hard and play hard. That is living for us. To each his/her own.

bkcunningham's avatar

@gondwanalon, my personality must be more like @Coloma. My husband’s personality is more like your’s and your husband’s. I can sit on the lanai and enjoy hours of watching the golfers, the birds, the squirrels and playing in the flowers. I can ride around in the golfcart going nowhere. Not him. He has to go, go, go and is constantly checking the price of silver, gold, reading investment sites…he wants his day planned and regimented. He’ll retire from retirement soon just so he won’t lose his mind. lol

cookieman's avatar

I’m fairly certain I’ll be settling for crumbs. Or dead first.

YARNLADY's avatar

I reached retirement age years ago. I first signed up for Social Security benefits, which I received and put in the bank for 8 months before I realized that I would have to pay back 80% of the money because of my husband’s high income. I used a pay back plan that was then in place, and gave all the money back to the SSA, which made me eligible for the higher payments three years later. That payback plan is no longer available.

I am now receiving checks every month. My husband is 8 years younger than I am, and working at a very high paying, not physically demanding job, where he can stay as long as he wants.

We put a large percentage of our earnings, including all my Social Security, into a variety of investments. Our investments are consistently keeping ahead of the Dow and Wall Street numbers.

I have a modest inheritance from my parents, deceased 25 years ago, and my Husband might receive an inheritance from his parents estate, unless his mother uses it all up. She is 88 and just moved into a rather expensive assisted living apartment.

CWOTUS's avatar

I like what @Coloma said. It’s one reason I have no plans to retire, because I actually like “going to work” and being productive, even if that happens only in fits and starts and even if a lot of the week seems to be somewhat unproductive. It’s like writing and writing and writing… and then hitting that grace note of a single bon mot that makes you want to write some more.

Or a really nice drive, chip or long putt that makes an entire round of ‘blah’ golf memorable. Or getting on a plane in a stiff breeze in the Laser… or… or… whatever. If you enjoy your life, however you spend it, then who needs to retire? From what, I wonder? To do what better?

plethora's avatar

I have my own business, love the flexibility and the work, in good physical and mental shape (although some of you might disagree..:) and have no plans or desire to retire…and I am over 60. My personality is such that @bkcunningham ‘s description of their retirement village sounds like the entryway to Hell to me. I would despise is it. To each his own.

However, I don’t think this is what @laureth is talking about. Please correct me if I am wrong.

dreamwolf's avatar

Your question is aimed for white people to answer right? Because us minorities (and yes im half american white/half filipino but consider myself a minority) will live amongst anyone, to inspire and empower. When I retire I will be involved in ANY community.

laureth's avatar

@dreamwolf – I’m talking to people of any color, gender, shape, nationality, race, religion or creed.

gondwanalon's avatar

@bkcunningham and @Coloma We are all different for sure. Different strokes for different folks. I’ld rather be water-boarded than to lounge about all day. That’s pure torture to me. We go on vacations to other countries to run full marathons and go on camping trips there. I have a tendency to lose weight while on vacations because we are always on the go. It is true that we miss out on a lot, but we see a lot more that if we just sat around on the beach all day.

Coloma's avatar

@gondwanalon

Oh yes, don’t get me wrong, just sayin’ that often, needing to be on the go all the time, or being a workaholic is really a way a lot of people run from their own uncomfortableness with self.
I’m just advocating to not delay living for an obscure future.

Doesn’t sound like that’s an issue for you. ;-)

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

My parents have been retired for over 20 years now. I am getting there fast myself. My fear is that, even though you have enough at first to live comfortably, that money buys less and less each year. Just imagine if you had to live today on what you made 20 years ago. Scary! Investing in the “bakery” is scary because you stand to lose the whole thing. Any investment with a substantial return is a risk. I would never want to depend on my kids. This is their time to be working towards their own future and eventually their own retirement. I would never want to make my kids a part of the “sandwich” generation – taking care of their children and their parents both.

I guess my plan is to not retire too early just because I can. Get all of my debts paid and have a bit of savings before I retire, and hope that it all works out. My one redeeming factor is that I have a pension that will never run out, and will help tremendously.

laureth's avatar

A pension that doesn’t run out, even in this political climate, is a very fortunate thing indeed!

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@laureth Without it, I would definitely be screwed. But not everyone can have a government job. I worry about how my children will be able to retire.

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