Are you kidding? Save for retirement? Seriously, there are far more pressing financial issues–like making ends meet right now and clinging to your current job, or worse, finding one, which I will help you with in a minute.
Financial advisors recommend socking away a whopping 15 percent of pay for retirement. Easier said then done.Backburner, baby.
The 2013 Retirement Confidence Survey published Tuesday by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Employee Benefits Research Institute once again told us what we already knew–workers and current retirees are less confident than ever in their ability to live comfortably in retirement.
That’s in large measure because most of us have no idea what that might cost.
Plus, retirement planning rarely has the pull of, say, saving to scoop up a vacation home on a lake, or socking money away for a sojourn around the world.
Few of us run the numbers about what we might really need to save in order to be able to stop working. We guess. We don’t seek out financial advice. We turn the switch. We wring our hands.
We justify our unrepentant lack of gumption to save and even think about saving to the rotten hand we’ve been dealt by the economy.
We need to save for living expenses today, not lock it away for the future. I hear this all the time when I talk to 50 + workers looking for a career transition, a new job, hope.
That’s what EBRI found: Asked to name the most pressing financial issue facing most Americans today, both workers and retirees are most likely to identify job uncertainty (30 percent of workers and 27 percent of retirees), debt and making ends meet (12 percent each). Just 2 percent of workers and 4 percent of retirees identify saving or planning for retirement as the most pressing financial issue.
The ‘what else can I do’ solution: We accept it. We’ll just keep working and never retire.
The age at which workers expect to retire has risen. In 1991, just 11 percent of workers expected to retire after age 65. In 2013, 36 percent of workers report they expect to wait until after age 65 to retire and 7 percent don’t plan to retire at all.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with that idea. I am a big fan of working not only for the money, but the mental engagement, at any age. And there are lots of ways to make that a reality with part-time, contract, seasonal gigs, and simply, more flexible options.
But the truth is my friends in their late 50s, who are out looking for work, tell me about roadblocks all the time.
They blame their age. And there’s more than a grain of truth to that.
There are plenty more to add to the list I mention there-senior fitness trainer, patient advocate, home modification pro and senior move manager. New ones are coming on line every day, but you need to look around you and use your imagination. And you probably need to add some skills and certifications to qualify for these positions.
Start now and ask: What goods and services are in demand by an aging population? What ways can those of us in our 50s, 60s and 70s tackle those needs for the 80 and 90+ set?
First, look to fields that are growing. These include healthcare (think a broad definition here), education, nonprofits, and even small businesses are eager to snap up an experienced worker who brings leadership, proven management, and problem-solving skills to the table every day.
The enthusiasm of youth only goes so far.
If job worries are what’s keep you from saving for retirement, here’s what to do.
1. Get physically fit. Employers worry about your future health. No need to blast out a fast mile, but when you are in shape, you exude vibrancy, energy. It’s positive juju. The real issue is not age, but oomph, curiosity, confidence and a desire to keep learning.Hiring managers are concerned that you may have age-related health problems, or are likely to, and that will be a problem if you take too much time off for sick leave. And, there’s the nagging issue that you’ve got an “expiration date,” and you’re not in it for the long haul.
2. Ramp up your techiness. Employers think you’re a Luddite. This is nonnegotiable. “Googling” should be a verb you use frequently. The best way to show a potential employer this is to have a social media footprint. That means a LinkedIn profile, an active presence in discussion group. LinkedIn can help you get job leads and seek advice. Stay active. Join alumni and industry groups. Build your professional network. A Facebook page and a Twitter account are often smart too, depending on the kind of job you are aiming for. In general, though, employers want a variety of ways to check you out beyond your resume.
3. Play up your knack for working with the younger set. Employers think you’ll bristle about taking orders from a younger boss who is probably making more than you. This is the time to weave your narrative about your mentoring skills. Use real examples of how you’ve worked successfully with younger colleagues and sought their reverse mentoring help with technology challenges and more. You demonstrate your willingness to learn and ask for help from someone younger, and how that relationship has worked in tandem with you coaching them on leadership and management strategies.
4. Spin your flexible nature. Employers think you won’t be open to change. You need to speak up about your flexibility in terms of management style, your technological aptitude, and your knack of picking up new skills. One of the biggest raps we 50+ get is our stubborn refusal to try new ways of doing things.
5. Find someone you know to hire you. Employers want someone else to vet you. People want to employ people they know, or someone they know knows. This reassures them that someone else trusts you. No one will tell you this straight out, but it’s true.
6. Seek out workplaces where you feel comfortable. Employers want you to “fit in”. Remember interviewing is a two-way street. Many employers want to hire someone who will be right for the culture and play nicely with others. If it’s a workplace filled with younger workers, and you really aren’t keen on the vibe, then move on.
If you really want to get motivated to save for retirement, I recommend you try out the Livingto100.com calculator. This tool, from the founder and director of the New England Centenarian Study, Dr. Thomas Perls, helps you estimate your life expectancy.
I discovered that my life expectancy is 93. Egads. But then again, my Irish grandmother lived to 98.
Looks like I’d better save even more for retirement.
Follow me on Twitter, @KerryHannon I’m the author of Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy … And Pays the Bills (John Wiley & Sons), available here www.kerryhannon.com. Check out my column at AARP. My weekly column at PBS’s NextAvenue.org is here.
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