2024 February What does retirement look like now?

Feb 13, 2024

Hi, this is Jim Cranston from 7EveryMinute and 7EveryMinute.com, the podcast and website about reimagining your life. Thanks for joining me tonight to talk about what retirement looks like now. I'm going to cover a review of what's going on in the latest statistics, both for Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, but primarily Baby Boomers at this point. 


It's also a little review about the podcast. As always, if you like what you hear, please leave me a like, send me a message, and if you don't, send me a message anyway. Tell me what you want to hear about. Before I forget, Happy Valentine's Day Eve. I hope you have someone in your life who you can tell that you appreciate and care for, whether it's romantic or not. I always take Valentine's Day in the general sense that anyone who I appreciate, like people at the office or friends in general, I always make sure that they always feel good. As we always say, caring for yourself is really caring for others.


For a couple weeks, I've been thinking about doing a review of the origins of 7EveryMinute. I do that every now and again for people that haven't joined us in a while.  I recently saw a story  entitled A Milestone Loses Its Meaning. It's talking about retirement and how many people are turning 65. It was interesting on a couple different levels. It's really talking about what turning 65 means now and what the ramifications are.


In the good old days, for our parents, and certainly our grandparents, if you were still working at 60, it was  unusual. The health timetable was a little bit different, and lives weren't quite as long generally, and a lot of the labor was much more physical. But now a lot of people are still working at 60 or 65 and even older.  For me, the biggest takeaway from the story and statistics is retirement now really doesn't mean that turning 65 doesn't mean retirement per se. 


For many people, it's just the next phase of life. Of course, we've been saying that for almost five years now, but it's finally dawning on people that when you hit that magic number, it's not that your life suddenly loses meaning, but it's just the next phase of what and how you're going to live. That brings us back to why I started 7EveryMinute. 


Some of you may recall that it was really to teach people about Medicare. That's what it really started off as. That's still a worthwhile goal, but that deserves a podcast all its own with experts,  because it's a very involved subject that varies state by state in a lot of ways. It's a big and important thing. 


Hopefully, we'll get back to that at some point, but back to the podcast for now. The podcast then transitioned to major news stories and events. That was actually a lot of fun. It was a longer podcast. It usually ran about 30-45 minutes, sometimes even close to an hour. 


I would pick things that I thought would be of interest to people of our generation. There was a lot of activity and a lot of interest and it was all a lot of fun, but alas, it was also very time consuming for me and quite costly. It really wasn't poised for long-term operation.


So we had to transition away from that, but that interaction with people led me into the concept of coaching. I'd been involved with that before, but talking to so many people made me realize that there was real opportunity there. A lot of people had issues as they approached retirement. Their self image was changing, and they didn't know what it was supposed to change into.


That's been the focus of the coaching, if you think about it. It's about reimagining and reenvisioning your life, setting goals to support that, and then working towards those goals. So your life is changing, but it's not the end of things. It's just going on to the next phase. I was really pleased that the story I saw really emphasized that aspect of it.  I'm glad that more and more people are becoming aware of that. Getting into coaching led me to meet even more great people. All that has been really good. 


So back to the topic: What does retirement actually mean? This is the real, five-minute version of how the podcast got started. There are about 10,000 of us retiring every day, and that's where the name came from. That's actually about 6.9 people a minute, hence the name 7EveryMinute. But now, it turns out that figure of people hitting 65 is now about 11,200 people a day. That's about 7.8 people a minute. The name still works, but the figures are up, and it's going to continue to go up.


That's a big influx of people moving into the next part of life. It's even more important and relevant that we all really refocus ourselves on what this means. We've talked about the value of the experiences that you have, the skills that you've learned, the people that you've met, the opportunities you realize exist for you. Those are all good things. Be all you can be. You're getting older, things are changing, and different opportunities are opening up. We've talked about it. You gain new superpowers. It's not like you just lose everything. 


An interesting statistic out of that story was that in 2023, nearly 20% of the people 65 and older were still employed. That's almost double the number from 35 years ago. So 20% of people are still working. Out of that 20%, two thirds of them are working full time. So really the age of retirement, no matter what is stated, you still have to go on Medicare. 


When I say you have to go to Medicare, there are exceptions to that. Don't take that as a rule, but you have to sign up for Medicare. That is a rule. You have these people who have turned 65 - they're not even slowing down - they're still working full time. As a matter of fact, I know a couple people who have changed careers or moved to a higher position. A lot of people are just looking at how they're running their life differently. 


That's a pretty interesting change of how things have happened over the past 10-20 years.  However, one of the other statistics that was really fascinating is that, on the surface, people now have almost 50% more savings. They talk about being wealthier, that they have more financial reserves, but that is really just their total net worth. 


Their house makes up much of that, so the interesting thing about that is they have this on-paper net worth, but unless you do a reverse mortgage, that money is tied up in a single thing. You could sell it and move, but with the housing prices high all around, that gets very complex.


It's an interesting statistic. The actual numbers, if you're interested, for the net worth of those 65 to 74 years old is $410,000 in 2022, which is up from $282,270 in 2010. Those are inflation-adjusted numbers, so they're on the same basis. It sounds like a great increase, but in reality, I'm curious if you just took the cash net worth of people, if they're better off now or better off before.


The statistics are interesting, but they often don't tell you very much. The other thing that's interesting and unfortunate is that the divorce rate is nearly tripled since 1990. There's a much more active, older social life going on, too. There are a lot of things that have changed over the past few years. 


What does all this mean for us? The biggest thing that comes out of it is that 85 years old number, and that people (on average) are generally healthier now. It means that we still have a lot of time to recreate our lives, to start something new, to define our vision, and, and really live our life the way we want.


Rather than looking at this as the end of things, it truly is the next phase of things. Even more exciting is with a lot of the medical breakthroughs that have happened, there are new things being discovered every every day. Most likely, we'll be able to live our lives in a way that we are generally healthier, can be more active, and be less confined.


The big takeaway from all this is that we are capable of making as much of the rest of our lives as we'd like to. Will some things change? Obviously, but we have more opportunity now than any generation before us. People are living longer, better lives. They have more choices to be healthy. When you look past some of the negative statistics, there are a lot of opportunity for all of us.


It may not always be super easy to do what we want, but it'll usually be exciting and satisfying. Best of all, the rewards will often be different and a lot greater than you expected. So, as always, ignore all the silly negative generalizations that you hear. Use your own internal strength to make the most of your life. 


When do we start? We've talked about this for a couple episodes now. The best time to start is to start today. Don't talk about what you're going to do next year. Don't talk about what you're going to do, Oh, I'll start exercising. I'll stop smoking. I'll stop eating candy if I join the gym. Just start doing. Your mind, as we've talked about often, wants to keep you safe. It tries to do that by doing the same thing tomorrow that you did today. But if you do that, tomorrow is going to be a lot like today. If you want to take your life to someplace different, then you're going to have to do something different. One of the ways to do that is to say, This is important to me, and it's important enough to start doing it right now.


That's it for the evening. Thanks for joining me tonight. 


As always, if you'd like to support Ukraine, there are links to various donation sites at UKR7.com. If you want to donate to a non-political organization, please check out the World Central Kitchen at WCK.org. They support people across the world with food donations in disaster situations. Even just a smile or nod to a stranger in the street can make someone's day.

The best way to care for yourself is to care for others. If you look outside yourself, it gives you a whole different perspective on the world. Remember to live the life that you dreamed of because that's the path to true contentment. Love and encouragement to everybody. See you next week on 7EveryMinute and 7EveryMinute.com. 

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