Ahhhh, retirement. Imagine those lazy days with nothing to do and nowhere to be, no boss to answer to. Sounds dreamy, right? Or, maybe it sounds like a nightmare?
Fact is, retirement is going to be different for Gen X than for Boomers. Our retirement savings are more likely to be in 401(k)s than pensions. We have lived through a couple of historical wealth-diluting moments (9/11, 2008 financial meltdown, housing market collapse). And we expect that we will both retire sooner than Boomers — and that we will keep working (whether that work includes new entrepreneurial ideas or work we find more meaningful, if less lucrative.)
Basically? Gen Xers don’t want to be bored, and we don’t want to be broke.
So we wanted to know: how — and when — some of you are planning to do this thang. Now? Later? Never? We asked 16 people between the ages of 32 and 57 about how they were approaching retirement.
Share your own answers in the comments. We want to hear it all!
I Want to Retire Now
Marco Sison, 47
Retirement Coach at Nomadic Fire
Planned Age of Retirement: Retired at age 41
“I made the decision years ago that life was too important to spend over 60 percent of it working behind a computer screen and chained to a desk. I wanted to prioritize life experiences over material possessions. This mindset allowed me to retire early. I’ve spent the last six years traveling the world and living my dream retirement. If 2020 taught me anything, it reminded me that life is fleeting and cannot be taken for granted.I plan on being a very active senior. Given advances in healthcare, if I take care of my mental and physical health, I see no reason not to continue traveling the world, hiking mountains, exercising, and experiencing a full life into my 90s and beyond. When pandemic restrictions relax, I plan to travel to places like Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia and Serbia to savor the tastiest foods, dance at electrifying music festivals, play on the warmest beaches, and appreciate all the vivid sunsets.”
I’m Planning on Retiring Soon
William Taylor, 32
Senior Recruitment Advisor at VelvetJobs
Planned Age of Retirement: 55
“I have daydreamed about my retirement plans, especially during tough days at work. I’m hoping to retire earlier than 65. I envision myself having enough savings to sustain my needs and investments to ensure I still have passive income. I want to be able to travel even occasionally, which is quite costly, so a passive income is a must. I also want to be able to buy a guesthouse — a small one by the beach or somewhere tropical — for days when you just want to relax, or maybe even live there permanently.”
“I expect retirement to look like life today: surfing as much and as often as conditions allow, and chasing fun adventures (local and afar) with my hot husband. All with the added comfort of knowing that both my girls are off on their own as happy, successful and fulfilled women.
My core idea of what makes me HAPPY is much different now. I ‘need’ much less material crap and significantly more activity/exercise, experiences and peace. This shift shapes my entire outlook, expectations and decisions for my future.”
“I’m keeping my expectations low. Too many financial setbacks in the past 20 years are making it unlikely that I will be at the financial level I would like to be at by 63. I do love the idea of traveling. My parents traveled to all corners of the globe when they retired. Unfortunately, my husband’s MS keeps us from getting around easily. Hey, maybe without the travel, the money will stretch further!”
“I’m expecting to have most of my bills paid solely by my pension, and as a result, live economically stress-free with my partner. I think, in reality, I will be retiring later than I’d originally imagined. My plans, such as they are, is to do what I want with my time, and with my partner, and that’s pretty much that.”
Steve Morrow, 48
Creator of kayaking site PaddleAbout
Planned Age of Retirement: 63
“My wife and I have gone back and forth on how we plan to retire. At first, we wanted to buy an RV and travel the United States. Then we decided we want to move to Belize and live out our life on the beach. Maybe it will be a combination of both, maybe neither. Ultimately, we want to travel and do volunteer work in our community.”
I’ll Wait to Retire
“My plans for retirement changed as soon as I started running my own business, because I actually have hope now that my retirement will be something that I enjoy. I think about it often, and am even preparing for my retirement in small ways, by learning how to whittle and enjoy the peaceful moments in nature. My parents retired in a very quick way and it was something that seemed rushed and unplanned. They were not happy as they didn’t have the means to prepare well for retirement, and spent a lot of it not doing much, and just surviving. I want my golden years to be where I thrive, and do things I could not do as a younger man.”
“My vision is living simply: writing, reading voraciously, traveling, spending time with loved ones. I think I always pictured myself with a spouse in my retirement. As a currently single woman, I realize that my retirement might not include a spouse.”
“Hopefully, my retirement will be a lot more secure than my parents’! Money management was not my parents’ thing, so they were a good example of what not to do. They were also pretty sedentary after they stopped working, which most likely contributed to my dad’s health issues and death at age 78 and my mom’s death at 83. I’ve learned great lessons in the importance of maintaining your health in line with addressing all of life’s ‘pillars’: physical, social, emotional, mental, occupational and intellectual needs.
My vision is to live a fun and engaging life in my ‘third age’ by doing a little bit of everything: working part-time in my coaching business until my brain gives out, traveling, volunteering, socializing, and enjoying hobbies. Though I’m younger than they are, my role models are The Rolling Stones – they work when they want to and aren’t fully “retired.’ ”
Still on the Fence
Tonya Lawson, 43
Website owner, Simply Caffeinated
Planned Age of Retirement: 70
“My parents were Baby Boomers who embraced the world of credit. They consistently spent more than they made and saved nothing for retirement. I watched my dad work every day of his life and he passed away never having known retirement. As a self-employed individual, I know that I will not have a pension to fall back on and social security may or may not exist by the time I reach retirement age. I try to consistently contribute to a Roth-IRA in hopes that I will someday be able to retire. It may be in my 70s, but I will get there someday.”
“Honestly, I expect to work until I pass. Or pass before I retire. Same thing, really. Everything about my life is different than how I pictured it — and in this case, I’m facing the reality that I won’t have a ‘traditional’ retirement… unless I’m forced out of work. I’ve lived hand-to-mouth my whole life. Long-range financial planning, like retirement, just isn’t something I’ve been able to focus on. While I have a few retirement accounts, I have no idea where I stand in terms of what the numbers actually mean.”
Jennifer Fink, 54
Podcaster, Fading Memories
Planned Age of Retirement: Never
“I used to joke that my retirement plan was ‘work, then die.’ We never seemed to be able to get ahead. In January 2020, we sold our ‘forever’ home so we could downsize and realign our finances. That worked and, for better or worse, my Mom passed away at the end of March. She’d had Alzheimer’s for at least 20 years. My sister and I expected her to live longer so I never counted on an inheritance.
Before the pandemic hit, we were planning to buy an acre of land with two homes on it. One home for my hubby and me, one for my daughter and son-in-law. We want trees, vegetable patch, flower garden and space. Not a lot of space, just enough so I don’t have to hear my neighbors. Unfortunately for us, the real estate market went nuts and increased 18 percent. So, we’re sitting in a nice rental house while we wait for the prices to drop so we can start looking for this very specific type of property.”
Sharon Frances-Moore, 47
Etiquette coach, Shances (https://www.shances.com/)
Planned Age of Retirement: “Not happening”
“I don’t plan on retiring in the traditional sense. I plan to keep working, start a few new businesses and spend time supporting the nonprofits I care about. I also want to travel extensively. In retirement, I think you need to be like a shark — keep moving. The people I know who stop working or participating in interesting projects tend to decline, cognitively and physically. The ones who stay active and keep challenging themselves remain sharp.”
Bryn Donovan, 53
Executive Editor, Hallmark Publishing, and author (bryndonovan.com)
Planned Age of Retirement: “Who knows?”
“I’ve saved some money for retirement, but I’ve always expected that I would work as a writer and blogger after retiring. I make a decent side income in book royalties even though I’m a very part-time writer… I think when I retire, I’ll embrace a full-time writing life. This may sound strange, but I see it as both a necessity and something to look forward to.”
“I previously thought my retirement age was 65, but I’ve bumped it up by a decade to try and manifest it. I would like the financial freedom to work exclusively on projects and with organizations that matter to me and better the world (on a micro or macro level) by 55 — when my kids turn 18. I never see myself riding off into the sunset never to ‘work’ again at any age, but I do hope to have significant flexibility and variety in the work I choose to do. Also, retirement has never been possible in my immediate family. So, if I do retire, I will be the first. That’s an odd thing to think on.”
Michelle Fishburne, 57
Founder of the personal storytelling site Who Are We Now (https://www.whowearenow.us/)
Planned Age of Retirement: 89
“Retirement — are you kidding? I think the whole concept of retirement has gone the way of the dinosaur for us Gen Xers and those who follow after us. Retirement is, for the most part, boring. How do we know? We are watching our parents in retirement and it looks dull, dull, dull. Why would we get off the field, get out of the game, and take the bench in our 60s, when our experience, skills, savvy, and wisdom are at their peak? We know a heck of a lot more than 35-year-olds, so why bow out when our 60s are the best time to rock it better than the youngins?”
Next for X, sponsored by #disruptaging
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