We all dream of retiring one day, we have visions of travel and a life of leisure, at least that is the way it was, once upon a time. In today’s world many retirees are finding that the retirement that they dreamed of is just that, a dream. Rising costs coupled with the housing bubble and the stock market crash of 2008 have come together to kill that dream for many, particularly members of the upper middle class. Many find themselves in a position where the only way that they can maintain even a semblance of the lifestyle they are accustomed to they have no choice but to take a menial job, often more than one.
Tom Palome was one of those dreamers, he was earning a six figure salary at the peak of his career, flying, first class, around the world on business trips and just generally living the “American Dream.” A former vice president of marketing for Oral-B he never dreamed that at 77 he would be working two-part time jobs, flipping burgers and tending bar at a golf club and as a food demonstrator at Sam’s Club, but that is what he is doing.
At about $10 an hour on each of his two jobs he calculates that he makes in a week approximately what he made in an hour at the peak of his career. He says that he could live on his retirement income of about $1,200 from Social Security and an additional $600 per month pension from his last job, but that it would be merely surviving, with no money for any extras and nothing to allow him to have a social life. The $1,400 per month his two jobs add to his income allows him to go to the theater once in a while and occasionally buy a little something extra or maybe buy a plane ticket to visit his children and grandchildren.
He is not alone, many retirees find themselves in a position where they have no alternative, it is not a desire to have a little extra that sends them back to work in a position far below their pre-retirement station, it is a necessity in order to pay their bills and eat. Many who cannot afford the extras but still survive simply sit at home because they cannot afford a social life but are unwilling to take a job that they perceive to be below their abilities and education.
Many Baby Boomers are looking at the possibility that they may never be able to retire unless they are willing to modify their lifestyle and many of us who have already retired have found ourselves to be in the position that Palome is in. We will either have to return to the workforce usually right back where we started when we first joined the workforce all those years ago. It is a difficult decision to have to make, are we willing to do the work that we thought we had left behind us all those years ago or would we prefer to live a mind numbingly dull retirement, sitting at home and watching soap operas and daytime talk shows on over the air TV because we can no longer afford cable or satellite TV.
It is too late for most Boomers to correct for the shortcomings of our savings, some of us just didn’t save enough and others had our savings reduced by the market crash of 2008, much too late in our lives to replenish the lost funds, we are stuck with the situation as it is now, some of us will live a drastically changed lifestyle with an income which will keep us alive but give us precious little extra. This may, however be a warning to younger generations to make sure that enough is put away by starting to save earlier in their careers so that they can live that retirement dream that so many of our generation are gong to miss out on unless we continue to work in “retirement.”
Watch the report from Bloomberg: