Retirement "Luxuries"? Not for Baby Boomers

In order to live any kind of a satisfying retirement life, seniors will expect at a minimum those things that fulfill their basic needs. Beyond what retirees “want”, we are talking about what they “need”. It seems a reasonable expectation after having contributed to society throughout our working careers. But reasonable for Baby Boomers may be something other than what you might expect.

The internet and all that it connects us to has become a staple of our every day lives. Few of us would dream of not logging in first thing in the morning to respond to new emails, check what is new on our Facebook, and catch up on world news as it happens. So it does not sound too outlandish to consider an internet connection a “basic need” which is just how baby boomers chimed in according to a recent Mainstay Investment’s survey .

The survey was conducted with 1049 consumers between the age of 45 and 65 aiming  to identify and understand what constitutes basic needs as opposed to luxuries. In addition to the “internet connection” above, the following were considered basic needs by Boomers:

  • Shopping for birthday and special occasion
  • Healthcare coverage (98% said this is not a luxury but a basic need)
  • Pet care
  • Annual family vacation or weekend getaway
  • Professional hair cut/color
  • Funding children/grandchildren education

A little more than the food, clothing and shelter that makes up other list of basic needs. I mean I love my pets and maybe on a lonely night when Orange Julius slithers up onto my lap to offer encouraging purrs, I could even go so far as to say he is meeting my “need”. But in the cold light of day, the old cat is more of a luxury than a basic need for this Baby Boomer. However boomers have never been ones to go along with the status quo.

The good news is that in order to achieve these basic needs, future retiring boomers are willing to work harder now to save more and even delay retirement to a later date if necessary. ” 76% of pre-retirees are willing to work longer and save more today to live more comfortably tomorrow.” At least they say they are willing to do this. Close to 50% do not even have a financial advisor to help them negotiate the retirement journey.  And one still common fear expressed by retirees is outliving their retirement savings. Although boomers know they need to save more for retirement, the reality is that baby boomers as a whole have not adequately saved for retirement.

And as for the prospect of early retirement, in Phil Taylor’s article “5 reasons you won’t retire early”, he overviews behaviors that threaten to impede your efforts including not saving enough, not saving effectively, and not willing to adjust your lifestyle. If you want to retire early or otherwise, you need to be  tuned into the realities of retirement life, understand what it will take to meet your wants and needs,  and do something about it now.

So we want it all but at some point need to realize that we will have to pay the piper. Saving, planning and preparing today are necessary if we hope to fulfill our needs upon retirement, be they basic or luxury or some combination. It may be daunting to contemplate forgoing some luxuries today for a delayed gratification promised tomorrow – not something we boomers are particularly  good at. But we all need to take responsibility for our own future. Retirement can be our time to live the life we want and do what we want to do. Boomers have a vision of how we want retirement to look and it goes well beyond simply meeting our basic needs. The ultimate question is what are we willing to do today to assure our happy landings into retired life. The clock is ticking…

Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of my Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to

5 thoughts on “Retirement "Luxuries"? Not for Baby Boomers

  1. Some of us have been “ambushed” by retirement, especially in this economic recession. I remember how surreal it felt when I told my boss that I was going to accept the Company’s buy out offer on the next-to-last day of the offer, rather than risk being fired. I was not mentally prepared, in denial. Anyway, I am experiencing on-the (or off-the) job training to learn how to do retirement.

    • This economy is not being very helpful to an awful lot of people – I feel for you.

      It can be a shocker when retirement happens as you describe and without having planned much ahead of time, a feeling of helplessness is not surprising.

      If you have not yet read the book “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free” by Ernie Zelinski, I recommend it. He makes some valid points to help get your arms around important variables.

      And he tells some mighty good stories along the way.


  2. I think that many of us assume that somehow it will all work out only to discover we are wrong. You need to prepare for retirement just as you do any other major step in your life. Just like reluctant retiree, we have to learn on the job if you will. I think it is important to be open to the possibilities rather than focusing on the limitations. You do have some choices and you can be entrepreneurial if you keep your mind open.

  3. It is always instructive to learn what some consider basic needs. My list would have looked somewhat different (hair color is gray and will stay so). To work harder or for extra years is a major decision that should not be taken lightly,

    Thanks for uncovering this study, Dave. Fascinating stuff.

  4. My list looks very different too. For instance, our 4 kids put themselves through college with only minimal help from us, although we did put in many years coaching sports teams and handling those types of extra expenses so the kids could get sports scholarships (3 girls played college softball). The oldest daughter spent 6 years in the military to earn her college money.

    However, I do think each and every person and each and every couple, should sit down and make a list of what they want, need and expect in retirement. Some couples might find they are not on the same page in how they want to spend retirement years.

    In order to attain a goal, you have to define it and plan for it. These things don’t magically happen once you start retirement.

    Great article!

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