The “baby boomer retirement plan”

A joke among financial planners says that the baby boomer retirement plan is “learn to enjoy walking and reading.” It’s a joke that plays on the common finding that boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, haven’t saved enough to afford a comfortable lifestyle in retirement.

That joke has a couple of elements of hidden wisdom, however:

  • Learn to enjoy walking and reading” reminds us that we do have some control over our own preferences. Walking is inexpensive and good for our health, and — thanks to libraries and Project Gutenberg* — reading is inexpensive.
  • Thinking about walking and reading can help us focus on this: It’s not the money we spend that makes us happy.
In Chapter 12 of Getting a Grip on Your Money, I talk about the “smooth transition” idea of retirement, as opposed to the “big break.” Under the big break idea, you save hard and work hard, even if you don’t enjoy your job. Then you retire and move away to the place of your dreams — only then to start enjoying life. I recommend starting sooner than that! . . . and reading and walking can be part of it, no matter what the joke may say.
*Project Gutenberg makes a wide variety of public domain classic literature available in a variety of formats, including formats for most e-readers.