2.5 million. That’s how many Baby Boomers will turn 65 in 2011, according to a recent AARP survey. That same survey gives us a lot of information on how well prepared (or not) these Boomers are for their retirement years.
For instance, the survey tells us that about 30% of all Boomers feel they have “come up short” in life. The top two barriers to achieving what these “unsatisfied” Boomers really want in life are having better health and having more money. Ironically, these are two areas that Boomers could have exercised more control of during their pre-retirement years (and the good news is they still can!). Medical advisors have been telling Boomers for years to eat better, get plenty of rest, exercise regularly, etc. Financial advisors have been encouraging Boomers for years to save more for retirement. Why have Boomers apparently resisted these sets of advice? Hold that thought.
Can you guess the top two life areas Boomers most want to improve over the next five years? Personal finances and physical health. Can you guess the top two barriers to achieving their major ambition or dream over the next five years? Having better health and having more money. Seems like the trend is pretty clear; money and health are the big chinks in most Boomers’ armor.
So why have Boomers put off taking better care of themselves, and put off saving more for their retirement years? The AARP survey doesn’t answer that question directly. And rather than speculate about their reasons, perhaps we can all draw some immediate lessons from the Boomers.
For starters, health, money and satisfaction in retirement seem to go hand-in-hand. If you have lots of money but poor health, your retirement years are likely to be a less-than-happy time. If you have great health but no money, you may constantly worry about running out of money, leading to less satisfaction in your retirement years.
All of us (still working, nearing retirement, in retirement) still have time to address health and money concerns. All of us can find ways to improve our health, from parking farther away from the front door of the grocery store—so we walk further—to joining a local health club or gym. For our finances, we can either find ways to trim our expenses, or perhaps find some paid work in our retirement years, whether full-time or part-time. The point is, nearly all of us can exercise some degree of influence over our health and our finances, if we want to.
And if we take positive steps in those areas, it looks like that will lead to greater satisfaction in our retirement years. At least that seems to be the message from Boomers who are just entering their retirement years. Sounds like pretty good advice to me. Can 2.5 million Boomers be all that wrong?