What Does Retirement Really Look Like?

Posted by Brad Hoppman - Uncommon Wisdom

Share on Facebook

Tweet on Twitter


Brad Hoppman on a recent Merrill Lynch report on retirement – MT/Ed –

Retirement once meant a nice going-away party, a gold watch and a long stretch of spare time ahead.

For some, it was a time to pursue the travel, hobbies and family time that weren’t always so easy to prioritize during the previous 40 or so years.

However, as many of our readers have told me, retirement can more-accurately be described as the next stage of their career.

A new Merrill Lynch report agrees, at least in part. They think most people who work past age 65 do it for fun, not out of necessity.

This is the same Merrill Lynch that 20 to 30 years ago sold Baby Boomers dreams of leisurely retirement under the guidance of a well-paid financial consultant.

Now, with dreamtime getting closer, Merrill is changing its tune.

Since I always like to show you my sources, here is a link to the report on Merrill Lynch’s website:

Work in Retirement: Myths and Motivations (PDF file)

Let me say up front that I think Merrill Lynch has done a valuable service by conducting this study. I agree that our concept of “retirement” has changed … but I think they paint an unrealistically rosy picture.

Here is what today’s retirement looks like, according to Merrill Lynch.


Merrill says the new retirement has four phases.


•  Phase 1 is Pre-Retirement,” you start preparing yourself to launch a new career.

•  Phase 2 is the Career Intermission,” a time to relax, recharge and retool.

•  Phase 3 is Re-engagement,” or more of what we used to call “work.”

•  Phase 4 is Leisure,” which most resembles what we used to call “retirement.” It starts in your mid-70s and ends when you die.

This idea of a “career intermission” is curious to me. I get plenty of e-mail from recently retired people, and very few use words like relax or recharge.

More often, they are unprepared and frightened for their future, for various reasons and circumstances. Many are already looking for a job or some other way to generate income.

According to Merrill, however, about half of working retirees say they don’t really need the extra money. Does this surprise anyone else?

Plenty of other studies show most Americans who turn 65 have nowhere near the amount of money they would need to stop working. Social Security benefits provide only minimal comfort.

I’m not at all surprised to learn that many 65+ people are still working; I’m just surprised how many say they do it by choice.

It makes me wonder if there is some denial in Merrill’s survey group. Pride is a powerful emotion. I can imagine that many respondents do need the money, but didn’t want to admit it — even in an anonymous survey.

If that describes you, then let me take you off the hook. You’re not the only American whose golden years are not what you imagined. We live in tough times. Many other older folks are struggling, too.

The Merrill Lynch study says that working in the midst of retirement doesn’t have to be disappointing, but I think for many it is. My job as a publisher is to provide information that will help you reach your financial and personal goals.

Good luck and happy investing,

Brad Hoppmann


Uncommon Wisdom Daily

P.S. Retirement expert Nilus Mattive recently helped his own parents use little known Social Security strategies to greatly increase their future income. Now, in a special video, he shows you how to do the same thing for your own family. Click here to watch it now.