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Boomers' retirement: Time for an attitude adjustment

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Mark Patterson writes the “Tough Money Love” blog, which offers retirement advice. The man obviously knows the boomer worldview, and in a column he penned for US News & World Report he lists five “attitude adjustments” necessary for retirement success. We offer them here, along with our own spin, so you can share them with your boomer-age clients.

1. Your retirement is more important than your kids’ college education. “We must learn to accept when our parenting obligations are complete,” writes Patterson. If you are sacrificing your retirement nest egg to pay your kids’ college education, he says, you have the wrong priorities.

We agree in part. Parents have a powerful instinct to nurture their offspring. The decision to subsidize a child’s education depends on what he or she is getting out of it. Earning an engineering, IT or business degree will do more to help kids enter a rewarding career than applying feminist theory to deconstruct 19th century English novelists.

2. Your retirement is worth more than your kids’ lifestyles. Do not pay your adult child an allowance, do not pay for his cell phone, do not make her car payments, Patterson urges. Here, we totally agree. If adult children cannot afford to support themselves, they can live at home with free room and board–and they can help out around the house while they’re at it. Subsidizing the kids’ lifestyles saps their motivation
to improve their condition.

3. Cut costs in retirement. Patterson correctly observes that a penny saved early in retirement is worth two pennies of income later in life. Live beneath your means. Buy less stuff. Downscale your residence, drive older cars, drive fewer cars, eat out less and learn to enjoy the simpler pleasures of life.

4. Debt is your enemy. “Entering retirement with debt is like swimming upstream with one hand tied behind you,” writes Patterson. Our advice: Pay off the credit cards first, then the auto loans and then the mortgage. Then take the amount of money you spent on payments and invest it; don’t spend it.

5. Retirement is a journey. Retirement is not just quitting work and going on long vacations–it is a new phase of life in which you have the financial independence to redefine a new purpose in life, whether it is pursuing a hobby, starting a business, getting active in the community or helping those around you. If you have something to be passionate about, the money is almost incidental.


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