A Backyard Pup Tent Retirement Plan For Broke Boomers

By RICK BELL, workforce.com– Since the financial meltdown hit and my retirement investments largely were blown to bits, I joke with my kids that they’d better buy a house on a big enough plot of land for me to comfortably locate my future digs. Nothing fancy, I tell them; enough room in the backyard for a refrigerator-size cardboard box works just fine.

A post-Great Recession  boomer retirement community.

A post-Great Recession boomer retirement community. Photo: Dan Kamminga

The kids, God bless them, have grander visions for my golden years. “Dad, don’t be silly,” they tell me. “We’ll pitch a nice tent for you. It will be just like camping when we were little.”

Welcome to the new retirement reality, 2012.

Sure we joke about our days of gray, but unfortunately for a lot of boomers there’s more than a grain of truth to this modern-day gallows humor. According to a study last summer by Palo Alto, California-based investment advisers Financial Engines, nearly half of all boomers—those of us born between post-World War II and the early 1960s—fear that retirement will result in poverty.

Scarier still, an upcoming Aon Hewitt report reveals just 4% of employers feel “very confident” their workers will retire with enough money.

Many boomers who were laid off during the Great Recession still can’t find permanent work. Those of us lucky enough to hang onto our homes—we considered them our nest eggs, knowing a company-funded pension was not in our future—are largely under water, or if we’re lucky, barely have a chimney poking above.

Consider where we were just six years ago. As 2006 dawned, the sun was especially bright as our home values grew like kudzu. Investment portfolios—for many of us defined contribution plans like 401(k)s—happily followed suit. Birds chirped carefree tunes as the mailman delivered quarterly reports of double-digit returns. If a fund provided less than 10%, it was time to dump it and find another—heck, there were plenty that touted 20% returns.

Just a year later, however, gloom encompassed our bright little boomer future. The sky-high home values we used as ATMs to fund kitchen remodels and kids’ braces plummeted like rocks in a murky lake as the subprime mortgage crisis started sinking our retirement dream.

Later that year the Great Recession was officially under way and we boomers watched helplessly as the financial meltdown roared through the fall of 2008 like a Southern California wildfire.

Click here to read Rick Bell’s full post about retirement planing, post-Great Recssionon workforce.com



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