Very little in the way of surprises were found in a recent survey of baby boomers conducted by the AARP, but lessons can be learned from the headlines produced by the survey.

Boomers, who are on the cusp of retirement, are more anxious about the future than they are about the current state of the economy. Of course, the current state of the economy contributes significantly to their concerns about the future.

Simply put, boomers, who range in age from 48 to 66 years old, are more concerned about being able to afford living in retirement than they are about getting a job with benefits.

The angst being felt by boomers stems from the political uncertainties facing Medicare and Social Security, two cornerstones of retirement planning. Adding to the anxiety reflected in the poll retirement is the fact that boomers have largely ignored individual responsibility for their retirements.

Many boomers are entering their retirement years with very little in the way of savings. Past generations could count on defined benefit pension plans funded by the company for which they worked, many for a lifetime.

Boomers saw most pension plans switched from defined benefits to defined contributions as companies sought to shed the expense of retirement plans. That meant that boomers (and future generations) bore the responsibility of saving for their retirements, most commonly in 401(k) savings plan that offered a modest match by employers.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates that the average worker will need $900,000 in personal savings for retirement. Yet the institute says that “people within 10 years of retirement have saved an average of only $78,000.”

The lessons boomers pass on to their children and grandchildren are: Do not count on government programs to finance retirement, begin saving for retirement now and, if a 401(k) account is available, contribute at least enough to earn the employers match.

— Oshkosh Northwestern,

Wisconsin, Aug. 9

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