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To Work Or Not To Work Might Actually Be The Question

Boomers may have less of a choice than previous generations in whether or not to continue working

The only thing that kind of freaks me out about suspecting that our retirement accounts aren’t currently what they should be is wondering how long we’ll be able to work.

Doug and I are both self-employed. He owns and operates a web design firm, for which I work part-time. I am also an aspiring author, having (finally!) completed my first novel.

He loves what he does, and he’s brilliant at it. He never was very thrilled with “working for the man” until the man turned out to be him. I, too, have spent most of my lifetime resisting the lure of the cubicle. I’m hoping to have a late booming career as an author, a hope my agent believes is not misplaced.

But our freewheeling work lives don’t come without a price.

We have, of course, no pensions. And no vacation days, or sick days. Doug has long-term disability, which would kick in if he was totally disabled for more than 90 days. For the first 90, we’re on our own.

And then there are those fantastic “matching funds” we hear so much about. We don’t have those, either. No matter how things turn out for us when it comes time to finally retire for good, we will have provided all the dough. Doh!

Philosophically, we have no problem working long past the age of 65, especially if our work continues to be satisfying. In that, we aren’t alone. As MSNBC reports:

William Zinke had plenty of resources to retire when he reached his early 60s. He didn’t want to stop working but did want to get away from the hectic pace of New York, where he ran a human resources firm. So Zinke moved his firm to Boulder, Colo., where the pace is more relaxed. Seventeen years later, at age 80, he continues to put in full work days. “I’ve had a very good life,” Zinke said. “I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, but I’m not done.” Zinke said he is fortunate to own his business and to be able to set his work schedule. He has formed a nonprofit organization, the Center for Productive Longevity, that is working to encourage other employers to help older workers with flexible schedules and other accommodations. “We need to change the way we think about retirement,” Zinke said.

The only difficulty we have imagining working well into our senior years is that we haven’t had this lifestyle modeled for us. Both of our fathers were dead by age 62, and our mothers moved into assisted living at much younger ages than we hoped they would.

So I’m wondering: Have you seen gainful employment successfully modeled among the elderly people in your lives?

And if you think you’ll be healthy enough to work far beyond the age of 65, what exactly makes you think so?


Posted by Katy on 06/10/08}
in CareersPersonal FinanceRetirement

  1. Hi Kate,
    My comment on retirement folk is this. The generation that my parents are from thought they would keep working forever. My dad never talked of the word retirement. It was such a shock to him that his business failed. He continued to find other ways of income until his death at 83. He felt that if you were alive you should be working. I know that sounds crazy in this day and age where people are always trying to find ways of retiring early but that is how he felt. I’m still trying to find my nitch in this life. The 9-5 job is not my way of wanting to live my days….but then hoping my kids will feed and bath me leaves me chilled to the bone. I better get busy and find me a nanny.

    Posted by Terri Wells  on  06/11/08  at  07:45 AM

  2. Terri—I think you’re right about our parents. My father was forced to claim disability, and then stayed home for 8 years before dying at age 62. But he wasn’t typical. My grandfather also was forced into retirement at age 59 by a massive heart attack, but then he went on to become a real estate developer as his second (and most rewarding) career. Doug’s dad got malignant skin cancer at age 54 and was done working by 58 or so—again, rather unusual.

    I love the idea of working as long as we can and want to. It’s just that I don’t trust the health stuff to work out!!

    Posted by Katy McKenna  on  06/11/08  at  05:07 PM

  3. 2yqrgpvxkfzzjki8

    Posted by Larry Winters  on  11/12/08  at  05:16 PM

  4. if you do what you really love you will never retire!

    Posted by dallas  on  07/28/09  at  03:04 PM

  5. I agree. If you love and genuinely enjoy what your doing then work becomes fun. I’m not even sure if it’s considered as work anymore.

    Posted by Home Insurance  on  07/31/09  at  10:49 AM

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Are You a Late Boomer?

If looming retirement is catching you off-guard between an aging parent and a revolving-door kid, you might be. If you've delayed travel only to discover they've changed the names of all the countries, you are. And if you're a member of the Baby Boomer Generation who's ready to give back but you've forgotten where you put it, stay tuned. From healthcare to personal finance, from career changes to volunteerism, it's time to boom where you are planted.