Seniors and retirement: Deja vu all over again?

By John Bellinger


The economic pressures on boomers and seniors today are significant. In the market meltdown five years ago, they arguably suffered greater investment losses than any other group, with some individuals no doubt seeing upwards of 35 percent to 40 percent of their retirement savings, stock portfolios and/or home values vaporized.

In the ensuing flight to safety, an excess of $6 trillion dollars simply sat in interest-bearing accounts earning less than 1 percent. And here they are again. As the market recently roared past the 14,000 mark, even though boomers who were on the verge of retirement in 2008 aren't where they had hoped to be, those who stuck it out during the recovery are hopefully sleeping a little bit more comfortably.

But is this going to merely be a cruel version of the old "fool me once..." idiom? Self sufficiency, self reliance, not being in need, security, peace of mind, living independently without help from family, friends or, heaven forbid, the U.S. government? All are characteristic trademarks of a generation passionately obsessed with safe preservation of capital rather than potential gains in an effort to recover hard-earned assets swallowed by an incredibly volatile marketplace.

Here in the Northeast, radio ads admonish boomers to "lock in gains and create retirement income you cannot outlive." We all are familiar with the adage, "the definition of insanity is doing things the same way, but hoping for a different result." It's time to look beyond the hype and appeal of the market. If one needs and wants safety, now is the time for boomers and seniors to lock in their gains and get out of what could be a fatal blow to a comfortable retirement.