Advice for Baby Boomers who are not ready for retirement

The earliest baby boomers have already turned 65 and over the next 20 years, they will be making one of the biggest transitions in life. The Boomers have made retirement a really hot topic these days.  One of the common discussions in my retirement workshops is with people who are really concerned about retirement because they feel like they do not have enough for retirement. This is not an uncommon theme given some of the challenges boomers have faced with their retirement planning:

And for some people, this retirement anxiety comes from a lack of planning. I am continuously amazed at the number of people who spend little to no time watching their money. Whether you are 25 years from retirement or 5 years to retirement, you have to run some numbers. You have to plan for the future. You have to get your head out of the sand and take responsibility.

What can people do if they do not have enough saved for retirement?

Over the years, I have met with a lot of Canadians concerned about how much money they need for retirement. Here's a few ideas on how to deal with being around your 50's and not feeling like you having enough money?

1. Get a plan

I know you've heard this before but how can you make proper decisions without a retirement plan? Check out two of my videos on YouTube on retirement planning: Retirement planning is like sorting out a jigsaw puzzle and What is a retirement plan?

I believe it's never too late to start planning. Planning helps you to envision and see a future.  For some, it confirms that there is a shortfall of cash at the end of the path.  However, I've helped many people over the years with their retirement plans and in doing so, they realize they are closer to having enough than they thought.  There's no question that the sooner you plan, the better.  For many baby boomers, they still have more time than they think.

2. Revise your retirement date

Let's face it – most people want to retire sooner than later. But how much of this is because society says early retirement is better. Most of us bought into the concept of Freedom 55 (which was just an advertising campaign).  From my experience and perspective. early retirement is only good if you know what you are going to do with your time and money. I've seen many people retire early (with enough money) only to find they are bored and have nothing to do. I've seen so many people retire and go back to work, not just for the money but for something to do with their time. If this is reality, then working a little longer might not be such a bad idea. I've always said early retirement works if you have something to retire to. Most people who retire early retire because of what they are retiring from (they hate their job, they hate their boss, they hate their life). We all retire from something but ultimate success comes in figuring what you are going to retire to. Until then, keep working.

Related article:  Who says you need to stop working in retirement?

3. Plan for a Phased retirement

As I see it, this is really the new retirement. Retirement is no longer about going from working 5 days a week to 0 days a week. More and more people are going from 5 days a week to 3 days to 1 day to nothing. Or others are going from 12 months to 6 months of the year. And often the work they do is not with the same employer. The point is simple – working in retirement is becoming a bigger and bigger deal. Ask boomers if they plan to work in retirement and more than half think they will. Working in retirement not only helps the bank account but it also helps the mind, body and spirit especially if you are doing something you enjoy.

Related article:  5 New retirement trends

4. Focus on your cashflow

There's a reason some boomers have not saved money. They spend everything they make and more. True financial success comes in living within your means but how can you do that if you have no idea how much you are spending? How can you possible know how much to save for retirement if you have no idea what you spend day to day, month to month or year to year. The most financially successful people know how much they are spending. If you are overspending then you need to start budgeting for the future and ensure that habit does not continue. The sooner you start living below your means, the more ready you will be for retirement.

Related article:  Do you know how much you are spending?

5. Find the right job

Work is often one of the biggest parts of our lives. Most people spend more time working than anything else. As I said earlier many people who strive to retire sooner than later, it's because they do not love their work. I know lots of people that love their work and as a result do not have this overwhelming urge to retire. If you love what you do, then it may not feel like work. If this is the case, then maybe it's time to take a look at the next 10 to 15 years and determine how to make work more enjoyable whether that means a change of roles with the same employer, a change of employers or just some perspective that you've got it better than most where you are.

Related article:  The importance of earning money

One more thought

Notice in my list I have not come up with what most people think is the obvious answer and that is save more money. Don't get me wrong, I think saving money is important but when time is not on your side the math can get really depressing and counter productive. Retirement is more about life than money. Money is important but remember that retirement is a life within a life. Get your life in order now and it will only help you in your future retirement.

Written by Jim Yih

Jim Yih is a Fee Only Advisor, Best Selling Author, and Financial Speaker on wealth, retirement and personal finance. Currently, Jim specializes in putting Financial Education programs into the workplace. For more information you can follow him on Twitter @JimYih or visit his other websites Group Benefits Online and Advisor Think Box.

16 Responses to Advice for Baby Boomers who are not ready for retirement

  1. The next generation of workers are so consumed with having everything “TODAY” , I fear that the message herein, albeit excellent, will not resonate with them.

  2. I am 65 (as of Feb) and am retiring at the end of this year; my husband will work another couple of years. Do we have enough money? We will survive, I’m sure. But here’s my dilemma – I have so many things that I want to do when I retire that I am so excited about, that I am counting the days already and I still have seven months and three days left. I am finding it harder and harder to keep coming to work, staying productive and keeping up with the daily grind. My advice don’t plan your retirement too far in advance. Try to live in the now, not in the future.

    • I used to focus on retiring asap and when I was ready financially. I submitted my intent to retire at 60 and it aligned with being off sick (to get a knee replacement). After I healed, I found I was bored and was lucky enough to “pull” my retirement.

      I agree with not retiring until you have something you are “going to retire to”.

      I know I am lucky, I have a great job, am secure financially and have good health. It also helps in the knowledge that I could retire tomorrow…

      I now look at my job and retirement date with the “going to retire to?” perspective.

  3. Sage Wisdom Tips

    1. If you don’t have any money, don’t retire.

    2. If you don’t have a faith support group, get one.

    3. If you don’t have resources, get a community resources book or use 211 system (if you have one in your area), look up http://www.benefits.gov to see what you are eligible for, fully use your government benefits (senior housing, medical etc,) and remember you had to pay taxes for them when you were working, they are not voluntary charity donations and check your local council on aging they may have benefits you are not aware of.

    4. Always say “would you please include my senior discount” when ordering something. You will be surprised who has them and may decide not to frequent those who don’t.

    5. If you spend the first thirty years learning, second 30 working, you will have the last 30 years of retirement…know how you will “spend” this time, with what resources, while you are aging? Click on wwww.intentionalretirement.com for great, free tools.

    6. Log into https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/index.php the forum is helpful for peer to peer advice.

    7. Move from aging to sage-ing http://www.sage-ing.org/ this is helpful in looking at the aging process in a productive way.

  4. Maybe you could talk about trying to afford a retirement home later in retirement? It is one thing to retire now and another to afford those later costs that are likely to exceed the cost of living applied to workplace/government pensions.

  5. Jim,

    Another article that shines the spotlight on retirement as a plan and not only a moment in time.

    The planning is the key, isn’t it?

    I wasn’t ready for retirement when I decided at age 56. I just didn’t have enough capital. But it turned out I didn’t have any real job prospects either.

    Could I have done more/better when I was younger? Classic 20/20 vision. But today, looking back, I don’t think I could have because of my education, the types of jobs I had, other personal situations. I did the advertised strategies: mutual funds in an RRSP and I even participated in the defunct RHOSP.

    Today, because newer financial instruments now exist, because interest rates on GICs – also now defunct, by the way – are so low they’re so low they’re useless.

    Planning is all well and good, but “things” change and that is why individuals must oversee their Personal Pension Plan. Why? Because if you’re not informed, you won’t know what’s changed or new.

    1. Get a plan
    Hard to do when you’re not informed at all and, most importantly, relying on others.

    2. Revise your retirement date
    In my case, the revision was 56 rather than 65.

    3. Plan for a Phased retirement
    This was not planned, but mandatory when I realised I had funds for about 6 years.

    4. Focus on your cashflow
    Key point. Key point. Key point. Key point. Key point.
    Cashflow is a two-way process. When you decide/realize credit cards are not the solution, then making money is the only other option.

    Making your Personal Pension Plan generate money, create cash as opposed to capital appreciation should be the single focus of managing your Personal Pension Plan at any age.

    In the Personal Pension Plan, do not include CPP, OAS,GIS at all. These are government safety nets. They are 100% taxable income, which you should avoid in your Plan.

    5. Find the right job
    That may not be always possible. But what is possible is a part-time job pre-retirement and post-retirement.

    This pre-retirement job is developing a Personal Pension Plan, funding the Plan, making the Plan grow preferably with cash that it generates, keep looking for new financial instruments and experts, be amazed at how successful you’ll be.

    The post-retirement job can be a continuation of growing the Plan. But it could mainly be a monitoring job. Your Plan will eventually be supplement with the CPP, OAS safety nets.

    You’ll be amazed at the cash you’ll be able to spend on trips, the kids.

    You might even be kinda disappointed that your OAS has been clawed back. ☺

    Mostly, you’ll feel secure.

  6. For those whose retirement are RRSP,pay your house off,try to buy RESP.. To help the kids with education,live within yours means,try to pay into your rrsp the minimum to avoid paying taxs. always pay your credit card off in full every month. an pound your rrsp at the end,an tax free saving account after the house is paid off an the kids are gone. With CPP an OAS.plus your Rrsp. Do the math,you will survive, PS. Get some hobbies.

  7. I will be retiring in June after 36 years of teaching in Canada and overseas. I’m 59. A saver all my life, I have no debt. I also have a pension plan, thankfully! I am so looking forward to retiring! I plan to spend my time resuming and enjoying activities and hobbies I’ve given up over the years as my job has required more and more of my time and energy. (I’m considering working part-time in some capacity after a 6-month break because I’ve always enjoyed working, but time will tell. Teaching, which I still enjoy, is exhausting, even for colleagues much younger than I am, so I don’t want to do that. But I might do something that is related – or maybe completely different.) In preparation for retirement, I’ve been practicing living on my pension amount, which will be 60% of what I’ve taken home each month while teaching. It’s been a valuable learning experience, as I’ve become more aware of where my money goes. The first month I did this was truly hard, but now, with a budget and a plan, it’s not. I am retiring 2 years earlier than I originally planned. Having no debt and being a saver all my life has given me the flexibility to do this.

  8. I have a lot of friends that simply work work work. They have no life in between, no hobbies. It’s kind of scary because there’s a lot of retirees that don’t know how to live a happy successful retired life because they never established any hobbies prior to retirement. They’re bored out of their minds and sit in the house all day waiting for ailments. Retire for a reason.

  9. All this talk of phased retirement and working longer at the Right Job reminds me of the old saying,”If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” I worked for 30+years in the legal profession, a high-paying “knowledge industry.” I liked the work and intended to continue to age 67 or older. Guess what? All those years at the computer keyboard left me with painful arthritis in my hands & wrists at age 63. I have been planning and saving for a long time and am not in financial distress. But the emotional cost of “forced early retirement” was wrenching. Have a Plan C.

  10. We’ve been RRSP’ing for years, but having automatic debits to TFSA has been a game changer for us. We automatically think of the pay check figure as after the deductions, never the actual gross amount. I know this isn’t a big deal of a lot of folks. But being lower income and thinking we couldn’t save, it’s a big deal to see how much we’ve saved so far. We haven’t been able until we started this, to have a separate emergency fund that is always advised, so this TFSA as a double duty account will have to do for now. Hopefully we won’t need it till retirement, but it’s better this than nothing, because we won’t be penalized as one would if in an emergency, having to cash in an RRSP. Seeing that we really can live on a more restricted income is calming.

    As we adjust to living on less, as long as we don’t feel pinched, we’ll increase the deductions up till retirement.

    I don’t feel savvy enough to do the kind of investing I see others doing, even though I do try to follow along on retirehappy, (it can be mind boggling) – but at least with this simple ‘plan’ I feel empowered.

    • Hannah,

      You are more savvy than most because you’ve devised a plan you can live with and you are honouring it.

      Also note that your attitude towards an emergency fund in a TFSA is perfect, for lack of a better word. Because the TFSA has no fees and no income tax it is a perfect account for an emergency fund.

      To help you become more savvy, learn to use TMXMONEY and/or Google Finance. With either tool, stick to Canadian stocks/funds on the TSX for a TFSA because you may pay income tax on income from a US stock or fund. With either tool, look for Yield over 8%; you’ll be amazed at what’s available.

      Not savvy enough is motivation to learn and investigate… and eventually profit.

  11. Overspending is indeed a big problem.

    I didn’t “live” it per se, but heard stories from my parents and their generation about how communism affected many countries in Europe. You had a job and enough money, but nothing to spend it on. Then, when tables turned, you had so many things you could buy, but not enough money to buy them. And people were so affected by the past, when they couldn’t afford “stuff”, that they began overspending to compensate for the past years. This became a bad money habit for many, which is probably part of the reason some people aren’t ready for retirement.

  12. Greetings Retire Happy! Great post as always – really enjoy reading up on your financial advice and how you make retiring happy can be a choice for anyone. It’s interesting how even though retiring is seen as a very relaxing and care-free time, people often have to take many measured steps to get to that stage. You put some very good ideas and principles here.
    I was wondering if anyone here has ever considered Housesitting as a means for travel and income. It is a low-maintenance job and has the benefit of free accommodation. Housesitters have the chance to experience a different lifestyle in a new location. I recommend visiting a website like Housesitter.com to view opportunities for you!

  13. The first thought in my mind, was along the lines of hoping that the mortgage is paid off. So if I am forced into retirement, I have something to fall back on if the financial planning did not work out the way it was supposed to. Downsizing my home would be plan B.

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