Americans Today Are Rethinking the Notion of What It Means to Be "Old" and 65 is Out

Landmark Study by Charles Schwab and Age Wave Finds Americans Rethinking the Definition of Old Age and Retirement, but Not the Qualifying Age for Social Security

Thursday, August 28, 2008 5:30 am PDT



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SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Increased longevity and life expectancy are changing Americans perception of what it means to be old, causing many to reevaluate their retirement plans. A new study, commissioned by Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., gauged the perspectives of four different generations: the Silent Generation (born between 1924 and 1944), Boomers (born between 1945 and 1964), Generation X (born between 1965 and 1976) and Generation Y (born after 1976). The study uncovered a diversity of thoughts, dreams and goals surrounding how many of us have and will approach lifes third act, including interesting findings on how Americans are shifting their perspectives on what it means to be old. With people now living past 90 and even 100, Americans have begun to completely rethink what their lives after retirement will be like. The Rethinking Retirement study revealed an overwhelming consensus among all four generations that old age has been delayed and now begins at 75 or older.

65 is Out, 75 is In

Though the majority of respondents agree that old age does not begin until age 75, most Americans still think people should start receiving Social Security benefits between ages 63 and 65, with Generation Y respondents believing the benefits should begin as early as 61.

Surprisingly, study respondents believe they should qualify for old age benefits 12 years before they become old, said Ken Dychtwald, president and CEO of Age Wave and one of the leading authorities on retirement and the aging population, who collaborated with Schwab on the Rethinking Retirement study. With life expectancy increasing, many fear that their current savings will not sustain them to pay for everyday needs throughout retirement.

New Ideas of Work and Retirement

Despite fears and concerns about outliving their money, Americans appear to be optimistic about retirement. The study found that this new perception of old age is further underscored by a shift toward a more active retirement. Indeed, 71 percent of study respondents say they plan to work while in retirement, and another 60 percent would like to take up a new career altogether. In fact, only seven percent of study respondents view this period as a time to unwind.

Delaying retirement provides individuals the opportunity to further grow their personal portfolio, said Andy Gill, senior vice president, Investor Services, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. Many retirees are entering new part time careers as both a new challenge within the workplace and a source of additional income.

This new outlook on retirement also shows that nearly half (45 percent) of those surveyed see retirement as a time to give back to their family and community. With potentially more than a decade to live in retirement before reaching old age, many respondents believe that they can maintain a youthful lifestyle by using the time to volunteer.

It appears that Americans no longer view retirement as a time for rest and relaxation, but rather a time for personal reinvention and continued productivity, said Dr. Dychtwald. As Americans push the envelope on what it means to grow old and retire, it seems natural that companies would embrace these new paradigms and offer more flexibility in work style and in the education, tools and resources they offer employees.

Not Ready to Retire? Tips for Saving at any Age

No matter the circumstance, the bear market or a late start, its important to look to the future and identify opportunities to increase your next eggtheres always something you can do, Gill reminds.



  Create a savings plan.


Take advantage of all your options.


Invest wisely.


Ten years to go


Start thinking in detailwhen you want to retire, where you would like to live, and what you want to do. Answering these questions will help you figure out how much all of it will cost.


Share your retirement dreams with your spouse.


Increase your savings and reduce your borrowing. Consider if it makes sense to accelerate your mortgage payoff.


Review your Social Security benefits. Have an idea of what you can expect and be you're your record is up to date.


Think about health care and long-term care insurance. If it makes sense for you, don't wait too long to lock in lower premiums. According to the Rethinking Retirement study, medical expenses not covered by insurance are everyone's top worry regarding retirement security.


Two to Five years to go


Continue to refine the "when, where, what and how much." If you're not on track, be realistic about your optionsyou can save more now, postpone retirement and/or spend less or work part-time in retirement.


Revisit your asset allocation and start thinking about a portfolio withdrawal strategy.


Fine-tune your retirement budget. List sources of income and expenses in as much details as possible. Separate expenses into two categoriesdiscretionary and non-discretionary.


If you plan to move, create a "short list" of desired retirement locations.


Last 12 months


Check up on your Social Security benefits.


Finalize your cash flow budget and your withdrawal strategy.


Review any existing insurance policies to be sure you're not paying too much for the wrong kind of coverage.


Give notice to your employer at the appropriate time.


Consider consolidating accounts to help simplify your financial life going forward.

In retirement


Review your budget annually and combine your cash flow planning with your portfolio rebalancing.


As age 70½ approaches, don't forget you'll need to start taking required minimum distributions from your traditional IRA. You have until April 1 of the following year to start, but that means taking two distributions in the first year.


Continue to monitor your investment performance and, in addition to rebalancing annually, think about periodically shifting your strategic asset allocation as time goes by.


Be sure to stay well diversified.


Periodically review all the categories of your insurance coverage.


Be sure your estate and gifting plan, account titling and beneficiary designations are up to date.

For More Information

More information on the study is available at, along with a self comparison tool ( and an ongoing series of cross-generational discussions on retirement.

About the Study

Rethinking Retirement was initiated by Schwab in collaboration with Age Wave. All data collection and analysis was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive. A total of 3,866 interviews were conducted between March 28 and April 22, 2008. The sample is representative by age, gender, race, income, investable assets, education and region for each of the four generations studied. An oversample was conducted by generation among the major non-White ethnic groups (Hispanics, African Americans and Asians) to ensure adequate representation by ethnicity across all generations. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated: a full methodology is available.

About Charles Schwab

The Charles Schwab Corporation (Nasdaq:SCHW) is a leading provider of financial services, with more than 300 offices and 7.3 million client brokerage accounts, 1.3 million corporate retirement plan participants, 367,000 banking accounts, and $1.4 trillion in client assets as of July 31, 2008. Through its operating subsidiaries, the company provides a full range of securities brokerage, banking, money management and financial advisory services to individual investors and independent investment advisors. Its broker-dealer subsidiary, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. (member SIPC,, and affiliates offer a complete range of investment services and products including an extensive selection of mutual funds; financial planning and investment advice; retirement plan and equity compensation plan services; referrals to independent fee-based investment advisors; and custodial, operational and trading support for independent, fee-based investment advisors through its Schwab Institutional division. Charles Schwab Bank (member FDIC) provides banking and mortgage services and products. More information is available at

About Age Wave

Age Wave is the worlds leader in market analysis and innovative insights concerning the boomer and mature adult sectors. Drawing on thirty+ years experience, Age Wave has developed a unique understanding of the populations expectations, attitudes, hopes and fears regarding retirement and maturity-related lifestyle and work style issues. Under the leadership of Dr. Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D., Age Wave has overseen hundreds of cutting-edge research, training, and consulting assignments worldwide across a variety of industry sectors including financial services, healthcare, food and beverage, retail, travel, media, communications real estate and technology.

About Harris Interactive®

Harris Interactive is a global leader in custom market research. With a long and rich history in multimodal research, powered by science and technology, Harris assists clients in achieving business results. Harris Interactive serves clients globally through their North American, European and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms. For more information, please visit

© 2008 Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. All rights reserved. Member SIPC (0808-4837)


Charles Schwab
Matt Hurwitz, 415-636-3700
Jennifer McClellan, 212-704-4567

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Andy Gill, senior vice president, Schwab Investor Services (Photo: Business Wire)

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