Six Reasons Why Boomer's Retirement Is Different From Their Parents'


1. Much Longer Retirement: Many people in previous generations worked as long as they could and very few were fortunate enough to have a retirement that would be considered “golden” by today’s standards. How many spent the last third (or more) of their lives pursuing hobbies and leisure instead of working? Boomers retiring in their 60s can expect to live about 30 years in retirement, which is a lot longer than their parents did.

2. Higher Expectations: Not considering tours of duty in Europe or the Pacific, how much traveling did past generations of retirees do? Boomers’ parents were Depression-era babies who practiced frugality and continued to pinch pennies throughout retirement. In stark contrast, boomers want their retirement to include travel, vacation homes, new cars, dining out, etc. This is fine, but it is expensive. Therefore, boomers need to plan for a much more expensive retirement than their parents ever would have expected.

3. Personal Savings Instead of Pensions: The greatest generation might have had a lower per capita income but many also had corporate pensions. Boomers wanted higher salaries, freedom to change employers and the ability to save independently. Corporate pensions were largely phased out, giving way to the 401(k). However, when given the option, most boomers didn't start saving enough or early enough. Today, many boomers haven’t amassed enough in personal savings, and most don’t have meaningful pensions compared to their parents.

4. Rising Instead of Declining Interest Rates: In the 1980s, when the greatest generation started to retire, interest rates were much higher than they are today. The long decline in interest rates provided a great return to bond investors. The boomers are facing the very opposite situation.

Instead of an ever-declining interest rate, they are facing the likelihood of steadily increasing interest rates during their retirement.

5. Exotic Investment Options: The greatest generation had relatively few investment options; mostly ordinary bonds and certificates of deposit. Today’s boomers, on the other hand, are being offered an ever-expanding universe of income securities. The investment industry has provided a lot of rope, and a lot of new and exciting ways to lose it all.

6. Deregulations: If they felt like taking risk, the boomers’ parents might buy some dividend-paying stocks. At the time, most of the dividend-paying industries, such as finance and utilities, were highly regulated. Decades of deregulation have caused these industries to become less predictable and more risky; hence, the certainty of previously assumed dividends is now extremely uncertain.

What Boomers Really Need: As boomers give up on stock gains, they tend to focus on income investing, and are always on the hunt for higher yields. There is no secret to finding higher yielding securities. In one way or the other, a higher yield just means higher risk: either term risk, credit risk or price risk. Higher-yielding securities always have more risk than lower-yielding securities. And some high-yield securities can even be riskier than a simple basket of stocks, but with a lower expected return. For these reasons, you may want to ask your advisor to establish a sustainable withdrawal rate and build a diversified portfolio focusing on total return rather than focusing on dividend-producing, interest- paying securities.

Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss in a declining market. The opinions herein are those of Morningstar, Inc. and should not be viewed as investment advice.