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Baby Boomers: All You Ever Needed to Know

The Boomer's Second Act

Now that the Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age, the world's golf courses and cruise ships are going to be overbooked, right?

Not so fast.

A study by Cornell University found that about a third of all Baby Boomers are planning a second career in their Golden Years. With over 78 million Boomers in America, that's 26 million sexagenarians planning to re-enter the workplace. That's a lot of workers.

The question to ask is: Why? Why, when they could be planning years of leisure and travel, are these Boomers sending out resumes and re-entering the workplace?

For some it is a matter of finances. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 25 percent of Baby Boomer households don't have enough savings put away to retain their standard of living upon retirement. Even though the Boomers have, on average, earned more money than their parents, many have spent it all already. They can't afford to retire and need income, so they're heading back to work.

But starting a second career isn't something limited to the oldest Boomers. Many are finding new careers in their 40s and 50s due to circumstances beyond their control, like losing their jobs. New York Times economics reporter Louis Uchitelle estimated that more than 30 million workers--mostly Baby Boomers--have been downsized out of a job since the 1980s. So instead of decades of leisure and relaxation, many Boomers are facing years of hourly wages in part-time jobs to make ends meet.

On the other side of the coin are Boomers who have plenty of money. Yet many of these affluent Boomers are also going back to work. Why? They cite a chance to do something more meaningful and fulfilling with their lives.

Tired of years working a thankless job that brought in a steady paycheck, Boomers are branching out in their mature years. Some are answering a desire to give back to the society that enriched them. They’re turning their experience in the corporate world into a $38,000-a-year job teaching public school or trading in a six-figure salary to head a non-profit company. Others are chasing their own dreams, turning a beloved hobby into a start-up company, or interning at the bottom rung of a new career. For these, money is not the object; personal satisfaction is the driving motive.

But going back to work is just one way the Baby Boomer generation is changing the way we look at retirement.