Desperate times call for desperate measures. There are many people in the public eye, especially entertainment, who regret their entrance into the house of stardom via the less salubrious side door of their industry. I don’t know if this industry gives rise to the phrase ‘I was young; I needed the money,’ but it seems likely that it was so.

When we’re old, however, we’re not supposed to need the money and you’re not supposed to hear us utter this blog post’s title. All our assets are supposed to be paid off, we have a good pension and investments, our kids are self-sufficient – kind of – and we have time on our hands and money to burn.

That now seems a little outdated for most of us. I’ve already talked about the ticking time bomb that is populations and pensions in the next 30-50 years, but it seems to me that unfortunate timing and macro factors have scuppered the plans of many in my generation. To list a few examples:

– Those who chose a long mortgage term or who remortgaged have pushed out their liabilities further than they would like

– The global meltdown and ensuing property slump mean that for many the value of their house is likely to be less than the amount they borrowed, locking them in for longer and meaning they can’t necessarily down-size from their empty nest

– The global meltdown has seriously dented the pension pot of those who are not on a guaranteed pension, which is most of us. Throw in the property slump and those pension funds that were invested in buildings have been more than seriously dented, and in some cases wiped out

– The nature of work has changed. Jobs are more flexible, locations are more flexible, options are more flexible. People are staying at companies less often and changing more, either by design or because they have to. This brings with it great opportunity but also the risk of being in between opportunities for longer, eroding any savings built up while scrabbling around for the next revenue source

– More people are doing their own thing and moving from employed to self-employed. This increased freedom comes at a price, in the form of unpaid holidays and paying for benefits that might have been included as an employee

Even though it’s acknowledged that we’ll be working for longer, we can’t work forever. The alternative is to work until you drop, having forgone retirement, leaving someone else to pick up the pieces.

I mentioned in the linked post above that technology will probably find a way to close the loop for us, to solve or at least assuage the problem. And those of us working in or around technology will probably be able to capitalise on it first, unless it is some immense democratising force.

But my question is this: will the old have to resort to desperate measures like the young once did?

 

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