My original vision for this blog and its predecessor Fifty Something blog was to observe and comment on growing older in the ‘baby boom’ era. Boomers are generally those of us born between 1946 and 1964, the prosperous post-World War II years. People born in 1946 usually have very different attitudes and perspectives than those born in 1964, but we are all united by the fact that we are the largest population segment. In other words, we still rule the world.
Someone born in 1946 grew up in the boomer prosperity years but were influenced by predictable life patterns … marriage to one person, a long-term job with a company that offered a pension upon retirement, kids when in their 20s and grandkids in their 60s, family support in old age, etc. People born in 1964 grew up in an era of later marriage, childlessness as an option, job changing, periods of economic boom and bust and boom, marriages that didn’t last, etc.
Nobody can predict the future, but our future is much less predictable than that of our parents and much more volatile than I could have imagined. Our parents were great, but they did not prepare us for the uncertainty we now face. And who could have predicted that we would live so long?
What do we do now? I, for one, am way underfunded for retirement. I can rely on Social Security, maybe, my union pension, if it remains solvent, and a 401k that is a mere percentage of what experts say it should be for my age. My last divorce results in my no longer owning a home and the byproduct of a law with good intentions probably leads to my having to share what little retirement I have with an ex who doesn’t really deserve it because of all the other funding sources she also has.
I know I’m whining now, but this stuff is on my mind. I currently have the best day-to-day life I have ever had and I fully embrace living in the present, maybe for the first time in my life. But I am sure I have a long future ahead of me and actions as well as lack of action from my past will result in financial struggling in my future. This does not make me happy. And don’t we all have the right to be happy … that whole ‘pursuit of happiness’ thing that is part of American culture.
If my second marriage had worked out, I would now have kids in their 20s. What would my advice to them be? Live for today but plan for tomorrow. Find a balance between those two often disparate goals. I wonder if I can take that advice myself. Time will tell.