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What ‘Retirement’ Means Now - The New York Times

The whole idea of traditional retirement isn’t as relevant to the self-employed. They generally love what they do and it’s a part of who they are, so they plan to keep doing it as long as possible. In fact, 68 percent of self-employed workers we surveyed said they expect to work past age 65 or do not plan to retire. Being self-employed means they also have the flexibility in their schedules to dial up or down as needed; they can work on their own terms. Although it’s difficult to become established as a self-employed person, once you’re there and in a good position to maintain or grow your business, you may actually avoid a major risk of employed workers — downsizing and layoffs.

As exciting as their vision of retirement is, their planning for it falls short. And in some ways, the self-employed have to be even more diligent about their savings because they don’t have corporate benefits, like life insurance and retirement plan benefits, to fall back on.

For those who will be of retirement age within the next decade, what do you see as their top concerns?

Several things concern me as a researcher. More than half of U.S. workers plan to work past age 65, and when we look at baby boomers, who are nearing and entering retirement, nearly 70 percent plan to retire after age 65 or do not plan to retire at all. Planning not to retire is not a retirement strategy.

When we ask workers what steps they’ve taken to prepare for working longer, only 56 percent of boomers say they are focused on staying healthy, less than half say they are focused on performing well in their current job and only 40 percent say they are keeping their job skills up to date. And we all know, the older we are, the harder it is to find a job.

We aren’t saving enough for retirement, and because of that I think many workers will have to continue working whether or not they want to, as a way to bridge that savings gap. To give you an idea, when we ask workers how much they have saved in total household retirement accounts, the estimated median among boomers is $152,000. Trying to stretch $152,000 across potentially 25 or more years in retirement is going to be tough.

More and more, people say they want to stay in their homes as they get older, even if they require medical care. How does “aging in place” fit into a retirement plan?

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