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‘Work-tirement’ a reality for more and more baby boomers

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Many baby boomers who would normally take a full retirement at age 62 are working longer.

This is at least partly due to people living longer and healthier, which enables them to do more of what they really enjoy -- and that requires more financial resources.

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Chris Farrell, editor of “Marketplace Money,” a program heard by millions on National Public Radio, spoke on this subject April 2 during the Bigwood Lecture Series at M-State in Fergus Falls. The title of his address was “Work-tirement.”

Even baby boomers who do start taking Social Security at age 62 are opting to continue work, at least on a part-time basis. Farrell said those jobs come largely from friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

“Workers spend years building their networks,” he said. “And those networks are the key to a part-time consulting gig, a job at a local business or a place at a nonprofit organization. Aging baby boomers also become entrepreneurs.”

Working into the traditional retirement years allows savings to compound longer.

“Today’s workers are healthier and better educated than earlier generations,” said Farrell. “It’s easier to toil away in an economy dominated by high tech gear rather than the assembly line. The financial payoff from staying on the job also comes from higher Social Security benefits.”

Waiting to file until the full retirement age of 66 increases the Social Security benefit by at least a third, compared with taking Social Security at age 62. Wait until age 70 to claim a first benefit check, and it’s at least 75 percent larger, said Farrell.

He said the challenge for society is to create incentives for older people who want to continue to work past the age of 62.

“There’s a lesson in all of this for younger workers,” said Farrell. “Start saving early for your retirement years. Connect your finances to your personal values and use your money wisely.”

He listed some of those values as personal experiences, education and music.

“We need to rethink our values and how best to spend our money,” he said.

Farrell, in addition to his work with public radio, also is a contributing economics editor at Business Week magazine. He was host and executive editor of public television’s Right on the Money, and is also the author of two books: “Right on the Money: Taking Control of Your Personal Finances,” and “Deflation: What Happens When Prices Fall.”

He is a graduate of Stanford and the London School of Economics.

Tom Hintgen, Otter Tail County Correspondent

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