First Person: If Great-Grandpa Didn’t Retire, Why Should I?

Yahoo! Contributor Network

By Robert Watkins | Yahoo! Contributor Network – 22 hours ago


My great-grandfather was one tough Yugoslavian. He would keel over before paying someone to shovel his sidewalk in the deepest of snow. He walked blocks to get to public transportation in order to arrive at work. He saved a little, built a home, and provided for his family.

The day he retired, well, you just might say he retired for good.

For my great-grandfather and many of his generation retirement simply didn’t exist. There were no pensions or Social Security and life expectancy was only about 50 years of age . In many ways, life boiled down to birth, school, work, then death.

It wasn’t until the 1880s that anyone even considered the concept of retirement. Germany was the first country to embrace the concept, but in the late 1940s and 50s the United States experienced a boom in retirement thanks to a robust economy following the Great Depression and medical advancements.

But that was yesterday.

As reported by, more and more elderly are retiring in the red. Over 20 percent of all bankruptcies are made by retirees. Almost 56 percent of people retiring today have some debt.

It’s a dangerous formula: health care costs rising many times the rate of inflation, life expectancy heading to 90 years of age , stagnant markets, and low saving levels may very well mean retirement could become a thing of the past for most.

The striking issue is most people my age or younger have not accepted the fact that full-time retirement will be an option for the chosen few, not the masses. When I worked as a financial adviser, we speculated people would eventually spend as much time in retirement as they did working. Today I would say that’s true only for the one’s who choose to live off of their grown kids.

That’s why I am embracing my health, even at the ripe age of just 45, and planning on working the rest of my life. Sad but true – I have no plans whatsoever to retire until they hold a mirror up to my face and go “yep – he’s a goner.”

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