Chapter 2


Retirement Plan B

Mark Yarnell

Obviously, none of us is blessed with the ability to gaze into a crystal ball and predict the future. But it is very easy to state with certainty that those of us born between 1946 and 1964—we 70 million-plus “boomers”—are facing some economically volatile final years. Members of our generation are trying desperately to whip the retirement dragon, a two-headed monster that’s forcing us to confront two daunting issues: boredom and financial uncertainty.

We were all exposed to the same song and dance as children, a song repeated so often that we all committed it to memory. In fact, if we merely wrote the first two words, you would immediately remember the rest of the lyrics and the melody as well. As we aged, many of us began, unwittingly, to view our final years through the filter of that simple childhood rhyme. We believed that if we rowed our boats “gently down the stream,” the payoff would be a life in which a few golden years would be filled with marvelous rewards like grandchildren, golf, and fly-fishing. We promised ourselves a final chapter of serenity and fulfillment—a vision that, for many, has become little more than a pipe dream. Here’s why.

After paddling our metaphorical kayaks through 40 years of turbulent white water, we came ashore near that beautiful old-growth forest called retirement only to come face-to-face with a two-headed, fire-breathing dragon called Theidleboresus Rex. That name alone ...

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