“Age to me means nothing. I can’t get old; I’m working. I was old when I was twenty-one and out of work. As long as you’re working you stay young. Retirement at sixty-five is ridiculous. When I was sixty-five I still had pimples.” George Burns 1896-1996
Have you ever seen the bumper sticker, “RETIRE: I was tired yesterday and I’m tired again today?” I have, and it struck me as profoundly interesting since I am in the “retirement zone.” Perhaps the real story is that retirement is tired and nearing its useful end.
The conventional understanding of retirement rests on the premise that one’s earnings will cease when work ends and a new lifestyle will be made from the ingredients of Social Security, company pensions and personal savings to pick up the slack. Once the transition has been made, time and money will at least be sufficient to do many of the things not possible during one’s working years.
Like the mouse after the cheese at the end of a tunnel, most Americans work throughout the prime of their lives with one eye looking forward to that magical moment when they can leave it all behind to golf, fish and garden. Even though people might suffer through jobs they hate and spend hours away from their families shouldering stress of professional responsibilities, they persevere towards the reward of their golden years. They hope not to lose their job to outsourcing or downsizing and to finally receive their company pension. That is if they are fortunate enough to have one!
The only problem is, this tried and true retirement formula has come apart before our very eyes and especially since the 2008 economic meltdown.
Millions of Americans are now “maxed out.” They find they must increase credit use simply to make ends meet to cover the rise in the cost of living for basics like health insurance, transportation, energy, food and housing costs. Furthermore, the idea of saving more money has become a complete joke for most middle class and formerly middle-class families in the New Normal of the 21st century. According to the Department of Commerce in October 2005, the overall personal saving rate (not including pre-tax saving instruments such as a 401k) was charted as 0.07% and 8 years later, April 2013, it had risen to a whopping 0.1 percent.
The outcome of all this? Passive earnings, whether from pensions, savings, Social Security, stocks and bonds or some combination thereof, are no longer as reliable as they once were to meet the financial needs of later years. Social Security checks have become insufficient for most anyone to depend on exclusive of other sources of income. Whereas 40% of companies offered pension plans to their employees in 1980, in 2006 only 21% did and in 2013, far less.
Even so, most people hold fast to the very same 40-years employment to retirement model; one that today seems more like a fantasy and less a ticket to later-years security.
You’re probably asking what choice do we have? Actually, you do have a choice. As part of the latest transformation of American society, the conventional concept of retirement is in the process of reinventing itself. Reinspirement replaces retirement! REINSPIRE: I was inspired yesterday and I am inspired again today!
Though certainly a transformation of necessity due to economic reality, reinspirement speaks to the overriding value of staying productive and begins the moment you choose it (not just for older folks). Those who choose to be reinspired enjoy the benefits of ongoing, private cash flow to shore up their financial plan. They apply creative thinking to their unique situation in order to make it happen.
Reinspirement is an idea whose time has come.Similar to the conventional wisdom that tells us to begin retirement saving when we are young, reinspirement offers a similar journey of a lifetime. To access a comfortable independent life in later years, we must be willing to shift how we think about money and plan for the future.
Reinspirement asserts that you (with the help of friends, colleagues and professionals) can design and implement a work-path to fulfill current and future needs starting from where you are today. Life-long cash flow is the name of the game but it does not necessarily mean life-long hard work. The challenge of reinspirement is to learn how to leverage your hard assets (not fantasy digital numbers on a statement) to work for you into the future. Your talents, interests, assets and skills offer the key to revealing your unique reinspirement strategy.
America and the world are already filled with reinspirement pioneers who lead by example. No doubt, generations of young people will need these examples to help them formulate their own later-years strategy.
Change is the way of the world. As the economic landscape changes so also must we change the way we think about and behave when it comes to our financial security and well-being in our later years.