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Reflections: Transition Through Retirement

This is Not Your Parent's Retirement
By Glenn Mangurian BS, MBA and Joanna Cain, MD

Glenn: As first generation American’s, my parents never got to enjoy retirement. As a working class family, they did not accumulate enough wealth to retire from work. My dad died in his early 60’s and my mom worked until almost 80 to support herself. Some of our baby boomer parents were more fortunate. They were able to put enough money away to retire to a warm climate and enjoy occasional visits from their grandchildren. They lived modestly and retired modestly.  Joanna:  My second generation and American Revolution heritage parents lived in a small community where they continued to serve the community after retirement by running the county library Board and serving as Justice of the Peace until they died.  Most of us are more mobile and less community bound than their generation was, which will mean different choices than our parents.

These days, it’s a fair assumption that retirement is going to be different for you than it has been for your parents or grandparents. Our boomer generation faces a different set of challenges. Employer-funded pensions are dwindling. Add to that the longer lifespans of people today, and you can see how funding your retirement is increasingly in your hands. If you live to age 65, there is an 88% likelihood that you or your spouse will live to age 80 and a 45% chance one of you will live to age 90.* We face a different challenge - the prospect of outliving our savings.

While our economic situation may be better than those enjoyed by our parents, we have anxiety that our lifestyle in retirement may be forced to be less comfortable than that enjoyed by our parents and grandparents.  Let’s not forget that our parent had us to help in their retirement. Our children are likely not to be in the same position to help us financially if we need it.

The median value of retirement accounts held by households ages 55 to 64 totaled about $100,000 last year, said Richard Johnson, senior fellow at the nonprofit Urban Institute. To put that in perspective, many financial advisers say retirees should have saved as much as eight to 11 times their salary by the end of their career to maintain their lifestyle in retirement. I feel comfortable saying that you won’t be able to retire and live your current lifestyle from a $100,000 savings.

Most of us think we don’t need to maintain the same lifestyle in retirement. Key among our assumptions is our plan to downsize where we live. Without children under the same roof, we just don’t need as much space. Sounds logical, but logic doesn’t trump emotion. Downsizing is difficult. For many, a home is an integral part of their life. My wife and I have been looking for five years and are reluctant to give up our space and memories.

Reflections on Retirement for You:

Who else would be?

Reflections on Transitions for You

  • Do you know what your lifestyle costs on an annual basis?
  • What adjustments are you willing to make to reduce your annual lifestyle cost?
  • Do you know how much wealth you need to accumulate to live that lifestyle in
  • What lifestyle does your accumulated wealth allow you to live?

Glenn Mangurian is a semi-retired business consultant, UMass Amherst alumnus and new senior citizen.  He spends his time consulting and teaching leadership.

Joanna Cain, MD, FACOG is a former Professor and Vice Chair of Ob/Gyn and Director of Faculty Talent Management at UMass Chan Medical School.  As a former Department Chair, hospital administrator, and gynecologic oncologist she has experienced many transitions both personal and with patients and faculty.

*Probability of one spouse living to specified age. Source: Society of Actuaries, “Key Findings and Issues, Longevity.” 2011 Risks and Process of Retirement Survey Report, 2012.


Glenn Mangurian (MBA, UMass Amherst) is a semi-retired business consultant new senior citizen.  He spends his time consulting and teaching leadership as an adjunct faculty at UMass Amherst and Lowell.