The post-recession struggle to retire continues in America

Most individuals go into a career hoping they will earn enough in their lifetime to retire comfortably someday. It’s part of the American Dream. Smart people start saving early on; others take on second careers to save up extra cash. Still, for a growing number of people, the struggle to live on a fixed income is increasing.

Not Enough Money to Retire On

According to analysis of the 2013 US Census Bureau data, nearly 60 percent of the annual earnings of today’s working class of 45 to 64 year olds falls short of the estimated $37,847 per year they need to retire at the age of 65 or even 70.  It didn’t help that during the 2007-2011 Recession that a large number of working adults lost their jobs and home equity to a failing economy.

Americans Staying Employed Longer

It’s not uncommon for seniors well into their golden years to put off retirement until they have enough. Consider the story of Loren Wade, a lawn and garden associate who works for Wal-Mart in Winfield, Kansas. Featured in a CNN article entitled America’s oldest workers: Why we refuse to retire!, Mr. Wade is 102 years old and still works 32 hours a week. While this isn’t the typical age that our Baby Boomers stay active in the workforce, this illustrates just one of a growing number of people who have chosen not to relax with a margarita on some remote beach.

Why it’s Challenging to Retire Well in America

There are several factors that can make it difficult to retire well in America. First, and foremost is the cost of living, which has exploded in some parts of the country. Some states are great for retirees, while others provide little coverage for seniors who wish to spend their remaining years enjoying their families and friends.

Another factor is personal wealth management, such as savings in bank accounts, homes, and personal property, which often hinder older Americans from gaining access to affordable assisted living services. On a personal note, my family faced this issue recently while placing my stepfather into a facility at his bequest.  Before we could do so, he was forced to liquidate all of his property and belongings that had any value over $10,000. It was difficult and emotional time for all.

Many times, older Americans are fearful of retirement because they do not know what the future brings in terms of their lifestyle. They don’t know for sure if what they’ve managed to save up over a lifetime of hard work will be enough. They worry about burdening their families. It’s becoming more and more common for older people to maintain either some form of hobby business or take on part time jobs for added income.

Will we see an improvement so that more people can retire by the age of 65? As Americans, it’s important to stay hopeful that earnings will increase across all industries in time for the next generation to plan their much-deserved retirements.


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