A growing number of millennials are nervous that they will have to work well into their golden years — and they could be correct.
An FKD Feature exclusive

After a long career, the last thing that you want to do is to continue working. But these days, with the increase in life expectancy and the decrease in corporate pensions, it is becoming more and more difficult to grow a nest egg large enough to take care of yourself through retirement. In other words, retirement may be a far, far away land, indeed. Some studies suggest that millennials may even be the first generation that won’t get to retire whatsoever.

Some say 75 and beyond

A lot of blame for the millennials’ current predicament is being laid at the feet of poor money management skills, rising rent prices and ever-increasing university costs. With that load, the gloomy projections vis-à-vis millennial retirement should be far from a surprise
The retirement-trajectory norm is still very much alive and well. Seniors run (or skip) over to Social Security at 66, screaming: “I’m done with work! I’m done with work! I’m done for liiife!” But … then … some don’t actually get to stop working. The nest egg that they had hoped to use to supplement Social Security turns out simply not to be big enough to see them through. Many are forced to work well into their 70s. The reasons run the gamut from not having enough savings to concerns about health care costs and Social Security. So, the question becomes: “If baby boomers are having trouble retiring, what’s to become of the millennial generation?”
A lot of research on millennials says that we probably won’t be able to retire until we are at least 75 years old, and that some millennials won’t be able to retire at all. Due to historically low wages and massively high student debt, the picture that is being painted here ain’t pretty for millennials and their retirement plans.

We shall see

One thing is relatively certain — retirement for millennials is going to, at best, look a lot different from what it does for their parents. The baby boomer generation had to work their whole lives and save as much as possible, but at the end of that road, most of them will get to retire at or about age 66. While millennials won’t get to work toward some fixed and magical retirement date in the future, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are screwed. Although,  it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are not screwed, either. What’s more likely is that millennials will have to take micro-retirements (otherwise known as vacations *sad face*)

A counter-theory that sounds nicer

It is clear that the entire world economy is moving toward a workforce where flexibility of lifestyle and location will be possible for an increasingly larger group of people. Given the rise in the mobile economy and the accessibility of information, we will also have access to almost infinite, flexible opportunities to work on our own terms. So, hear me out. Although we may not retire, we may be able to work in a manner that allows us to fit our personal lives into our professional lives. This is possible because the millennials are truly the entrepreneurial generation, and when it comes to hustle, we are quite simply the best. Better than all the rest!   

And work actually rocks!

OK. That’s not true. Maybe work doesn’t always rock. Or maybe it doesn’t usually rock. But it definitely can rock if you showed some innovation and creativity in your job search. And seeing as millennials are movers-and-shakers when it comes to creativity, there is no reason that they can’t make the “I can’t retire” situation work. The key for them is going to be to keep growing and developing their skills (of which, due to their large amount of education, they have plenty). Although they are the most underemployed generation, they also have the most skills. And with the emergence of this ever-growing connectivity, they can work when they want, where they want and how they want with just a little bit of know-how, boldness and creativity (which millennials have in spades, too!).

Who cares about retirement anyway? What are you going to do? Play golf until your arms fall off?


So will millennials be able to retire? It is a complicated question. For some, yes. For others, no. For most, the answer is: Yes, and no – retirement may not be in the cards in exactly the same fashion as it was for millennials’ parents. But it might even be better than their parents’ retirement (it is all about perspective!). This is because work will be on their own terms. They will be able to work remotely, pursue creative and enjoyable side-gigs, and keep their brains from atrophying due to lack of activity and use. Millennials might not all have fat bank accounts, or trust funds, or even decent-paying jobs – but most millennials have hustle, know-how and a ferocious drive. And that’s what it’s gonna take to gain some semblance of retirement.

But who knows? Maybe it will all work out and the millennial retirement will look quite similar to the retirements of their parents. But, it is important to note, a slightly divergent “retirement” plan might not be the worst thing in the world for the millennial generation. Idleness is not all that it is cracked up to be!  

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Posted 06.08.2018 - 09:00 am EDT