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Raw Thoughts About Retirement from Generation X (WARNING! It is bleak)

Like it or not Gen X is in the on deck circle for retirement. Every single one of us are over 40 at this point, with a large percentage on the north side of 50. Holy shit, time does fly by. Seems like yesterday everything Smelled Like Teen Spirit, now it smells more like muscle cream & desperation.

I think a lot about our generation and how we will approach retirement. Will we be financially prepared for what's to come? How will we lay claim on retirement and make it our own? I don't think our retirement reality will look anything like the retirement realities of generations past, and I'm not alone.

When we came into the workforce, pensions mostly stopped being a thing (although I do know some of you Gen-Xers are lucky enough to have one). Even though the 401k was born in the late 70s it really didn't become THE method for retirement savings until we showed up to the office. In addition if you factor in some of the predictions for social security, things can easily look bleak for us.

So I asked a group of of Gen-Xers what their thoughts on retirement were at the stage in the game.

Here are some of the comments I received:

The Positive:

Some from my mini-focus group actually felt pretty good about retirement, here are the quotes:

  • "I think I'm pretty well prepared financially."

  • "Well prepared."

  • "I am lucky to have a pension. My company stopped offering it for new hires within the last few years. I also have a 401k."

  • "I have a few 401K and diverse investments. I been at the same company for 21 years now and will be eligible to retire in 4 more years. I plan to work another 8 years and then retire."

The Neutral:

Some were a bit mixed in their view, here are the quotes:

  • "There are lots of government subsidized low-income senior apartment buildings where rent is quite low. I think those will still be around. I know a few people who live in them and they are actually quite nice. One of them pays $525 month for a studio near the farmers market and waterfront in a desirable college town in the one."

  • "My partner and I will probably come out okay, but only because we didn’t have kids."

  • "I'm going to sell my horde of comics in protective sleeves."

  • "I’m 40. About 5 years ago, I just started putting the max contribution of $6,000 (each) into a ROTH IRA and a Traditional IRA each year. I’m hoping for the best."

The Negative:

And some were flat out feeling like the future is fucked, here are those quotes:

  • "Ha retirement? That’s a good one..."

  • "The boomers will use up current funds. The millennials will make sure there isn’t anything left for people older than them. Work until your 80."

  • "I think we’re going to see a decline in the quality of life for retirees overall over the next decade or so. Probably longer."

  • "I have zero retirement anything and I’m 50."

  • "Work till I die. It’s fine I never expected retirement anyway."

  • "Retirement? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. I will be working until the day I die."

  • "I could've had a good retirement but messed up for far too long due to my own stupidity. Best shot I have now, barring any significant changes, would be to barista fire in a smaller town in a LCOL area."

  • "I’ve been contributing to 401ks for 25-ish years. I don’t see much light at the end of the tunnel right now. Not going to be able to retire at 65. I’m already planning to work to at least 70. And I need to come up with a plan to work beyond that somehow."

  • "I'll be living in a van down by the river"

As you can see from my super (un)scientific survey of self proclaimed Generation X internet strangers, the overall sentiment for the future isn't great. How bad is it really? What can we do about it? I'll touch on that in further articles, this one was all about getting into the psyche of Gen X first.

One thing is for sure though, the clock isn't going to slow down and wait for us to come up with a plan. It's full steam ahead.


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