Chapter 2. The Great Wake-Up Call

The Great Recession has sent a wake-up call to older Americans.

We're adjusting our expectations, getting sober, and starting to focus on the nuts and bolts of planning for retirement. The dramatic erosion of wealth also has prompted us to focus more on lifestyle, experiences, and personal values. "People are not just looking at what they have, but at how they will live," says Laura Rossman, an expert on marketing to boomers and seniors. "They're realizing that they may need to put off retirement and getting realistic about what it takes. The market drop has been severe, and no one ever expected anything like the severity of the shock. It is changing some behaviors, and people are resetting their views."

Confidence about retirement security has plunged. The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) has been surveying Americans annually for 16 years on their attitudes about retirement. In 2009, the percentage of respondents who said they were confident that they would have enough money to retire comfortably stood at the lowest point since the first survey in 1993.[19] In general, EBRI's findings reflect a striking new sense of seriousness in attitudes about retirement.

  • Delaying retirement: People plan to work longer to secure their retirement; 28 percent said they had changed their target year for retirement in the past year, with most (89 percent) saying they were doing so to boost their financial security.

  • Working in retirement: More people plan to ...

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