The Boomer Squeeze: How Much More Can We Take?

Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: December 16, 2020
The Boomer Squeeze: How Much More Can We Take?

boomerThe Boomer Generation.  If you were born between during the demographic birth boom between 1946 and 1964 you are part of it.  So how are you feeling these days?  Feeling a bit squeezed?

Our Parents Had it Made

If you talk to your parents, they will readily admit that during their working years, they contributed about $2,000 in total to the social security system.  Now, in their golden years, they get a nice little Social Security check from the government and low cost health care through the Medicare program.  Most people our parent’s age retired somewhere between the ages of 60 and 65 and, if they were lucky, also have a nice little pension check coming in.

We – the Boomer Generation – did well by our elders.  The contributions we made to Social Security and Medicare during our working years has provided for a decent life for many of the older folks in our country.  No, they are not rolling in riches and for many, their government check barely covers expenses. But still, the entitlements are there and in one form or another, they have been able to count on them month in and month out. We should fell good about this.

No Retirement on the Boomer Horizon

But what about us?  Most boomers I know are still working and see no retirement on the horizon.  Ever.  Let me say that again:  No Retirement Ever.

What does this say about us?  Are we a bunch of workaholics who love our jobs?  Not necessarily. Here is a typical profile:

  • Early sixties
  • Nominal debt or debt free
  • Retirement funds – what is left of them after being decimated in 2008 and 2009 – returning little or no income
  • Living on cash flow from current full or part-time jobs
  • Health care, transportation, food and other costs through the roof

Think I am making this up?  According to the 2011 Associated Press and surveys:

  • 60% of the baby boomers lost value in investments because of the economic crisis
  • 42% are delaying retirement
  • 25% claim they’ll never retire

The Big Squeeze

And now the frosting on the cake:  we were good kids and took care of our parents but now we are being told it is time to sacrifice and take care of the next generation.  We are being told that we need to suck up and live with less so our children are not saddled with debt. We are told that Social Security and Medicare may not be there for us.

I don’t know about you, but this does not feel right to me.  As a Boomer, I am being squeezed from both ends with no end in sight.  And this makes me angry.  Angry and tired.  Tired of the work ethic, tired of the politics, tired of the posturing, tired of the daily grind, and just plain tired of being so darn responsible.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not talking about being over-worked and I am not talking about being depressed.  Heck, I am darn grateful to have a job and to be earning an income.

What I am talking about is being pressured by the powers that be to make the ultimate sacrifice of  a reasonable retirement in order to insure that both our elders and our children can be comfortable. I am  also talking about that insidious drag on our spirits created by the sour economy and sense of helplessness to effect change in a society where our civil rights are being challenged daily by acts of government.

The Baby Boomer generation was, by many, defined by the rejection of traditional values and the optimism of a newer, better vision for ourselves and our society.  We thought we were special.  But something happened along the way.  A group of Super-Boomers took control of our government and in their efforts to elevate their elitist status, have reduced many Boomers to mindless followers (“Sheeple”) who do what they say, when they say it, in the manner they want it done.

And the rest of us?  We hunker down.  We retreat. We prepare for the unexpected and we seek joy in the simple things in life.  If we are lucky, we still look forward to each day with optimism, love, and heart.  But some days – every once in awhile – as strong as we are, we just feel tired and beaten.  On days like that, I ask:   “Just how much can a person take?”  And “Is there an end in sight?”

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


Backdoor Survival Tip of the Day:  Here is an easy way to clean your coffeemaker.  Mix up 1 quart of water plus 1/4 cup baking soda.  Run this brew though your coffee maker once followed by another cycle with plain water.  You coffee maker will come out sparkling clean on the inside and sweet smelling too.

From the Bargain Bin:  Remember my favorite Kingston 4GB DataTraveler flash drive? Also, I am now starting to think about packaging a few items (dog food comes to mind) in the larger 5 gallon sized Mylar bags.

The following items were featured in Monday’s article on home security for the prepper.  I especially want to mention the pepper spray which to me, is an indispensible and inexpensive part of any home and personal security toolbox.

For all of you cast iron fans, I will soon be setting up a page at Backdoor Survival dedicated to Cast Iron so if you are so inclined, be sure to send me your tips and recipes and I will be thrilled to share them.

I have the following Volcano II Collapsible Stove on order from Emergency Essentials.  I wish it would hurry up and get here!

Like this? You might also like:

Need a water filter?  I just love my Sport Berkey!

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23 Responses to “The Boomer Squeeze: How Much More Can We Take?”

  1. I can’t add much to what you said, because I agree entirely and you covered the main issues. In my case, it’s not so much that I will have to work until I die, but that retirement will be far less comfortable than my wife and I had planned. We really took a drubbing in 2008 although my investments were supposed to be “conservative.” The thing that galls me no end is that while we lost a great deal, the people who caused that disaster seem not to have suffered at all. They still got their huge salaries, perks, and they still have their jobs in most cases.

    • I still have angst over the 2008 and 2009 debacle with “conservative retirement funds”. And it galls me to see the bankers and financial executives riding around in their fancy cars and spending $100s of dollars on dinners out. I guess you could say I don’t want this in my face and for that reason I rarely go back to visit the city.

      On the other hand, I am much happier now that I have less stuff, a quieter life, and joy in waking up to the sound of the birds and the smell of sea 🙂

    • Ahhh, the light comes on. Squeezed at both ends, trying to do what I was taught. “They” couldn’t identify the fo, the elites; my folks said go get your own thing and don’t work for the “man” anymore than you have to. Well there you have it; wasn’t counting on looking at both ends as you suggest. But clearly I love the great Northwest and will fight to the bitter end to preserve what I and the BH have earned. Now how to transfer that to the youngin’s? I sure didn’t hear it; glad my parents have a decent life and hope to get there myself. This explains my recent angst (I think).

  2. Looking on the bright side, the “squeeze” has helped me as a Boomer to re-assess my priorities and discard what no longer is important (especially a lot of “things”) so I can simply my life and focus my remaining days and energy on the things that really DO matter to me and bring me joy, such as personal, financial and spiritual freedom and being of the greatest possible service to others. Thanks for all you do, Gaye. You are truly an inspiration. Wishing you a BLESSED day. 🙂

    • Sharon, I agree with you all the way. I actually have trimmed down my life the single common denominator. I have rid my self of any and all debt. I have simplified my life to its most simple form and I am loving it. I have only a few basic bills each month plus rent, so I don’t need much money. What money there is left over I put into prep’s or spend on my grandkids and kids.

  3. Look on the bright side, SW. At least we have our…err…well, maybe not. But we can sure count on the government to…, hmm? that’s not it. Anyway, we Do have the best…(I’m thinking here). Oh well, now I’m even more depressed than before. Think I’ll go have a beer and sharpen my knives. Just remember to smile; the world will think you’re either crazy or on drugs. Either way, most will leave you alone.

    • Rob, I am with you. Lets have a beer and sharpen knifes. Didn’t your mom teach you to never drink and play with sharp objects? lol

    • Sounds good to me. The more the merrier. Sharp knives and alcoholic beverages. Who could ask for more?

    • She did, Jeff. But being the hard-headed kid I was, I never listened. Not, at least, until she would scream out my first and middle names together. Then I knew I’d best toe the line.

  4. Most of the baby boomers I know are retired or soon to retire and not too worried….
    The opposite of your view 🙂 … I think it depends on which end of the 20 years of baby boomers you know. I belong to the older 10 years, so therefore most of my acquaintances are also older and retired already or ready to retire. I was born in ’54, so at 57, am ready to retire… in fact I did give my retirement notice last winter, but was given such a sweet deal, I stayed on parttime for another year or so.

    I think there are two pivotal points as to whether one feels good and ready for retirement, or not able to retire. 1st would be age – those 55 and older are “somewhat assured” that the SS cuts will not apply to them – or at least we choose to believe that. And we have been raised to believe that SSSI is just that… Social Security SUPPLEMENTAL insurance…. ie, a SUPPLEMENT to what one has already laid aside and saved up.
    And that brings me to the 2nd pivotal point…. We have SAVED, we have PAID DOWN, we are DEBT FREE, we are self-sufficient, and we live SIMPLY and with JOY 🙂 We all along have considered SS a supplement, but not a total retirement package, so we have our homes paid off, side income in a rental home, downsized, and enjoy the simple pleasures of life – have our big gardens and are content do-it-yourselfers for the mostpart 🙂 It’s the way we were raised.

    I think preparedness is the key, and a desire to just have “enough”, not too much are the keys.

    At 57 and single, I live happily on $13,000 a year part time work, plus fully paid health insurance thru my job. I have money to spare as everything I own is paid for, and the insurance and taxes on the house are not $100/month total. I guess the key is to understand that you cannot realistically have everything you WANT and still retire, but you can have everything you NEED and retire very well 🙂

    • Having employer paid health care insurance is a huge benefit. For example, I pay just under $500 a month for a high deductible ($3500) plan for myself with no drug coverage. Luckily, I am healthy but even so, my annual out of pocket which includes the dentist is about $800 plus the insurance. In addition, property taxes in some areas of the country are quite high. Here in Washington State, $3K to $5K a year is typical for a standard home. Bottom line? Health insurance, health care and property taxes can easily exceed $10K a year in the blink of an eye.

      I encourage everyone in my age bracket to keep working as long as possible if for no other reason than to cover these two critical expenses.

    • While the employer does pay health care, it is a $2000 deductible, and pays 70% after that, except I pay half on dentists and 90% on glasses and eye exams…

      Upon retirement I will be going to a $5000 deductible for about $350/mo for ages 58 – 65 until medicare kicks in and the payment drops (at the moment) . I have that money set aside already.

      Property taxes – I could be paying $3000-$4000/yr on insurance and taxes if I owned a larger fancier newer home here in NW Oregon Coast, but I chose to downsize – 864 sq ft home, rural, so property taxes are $900/yr and insurance is $300 – ergo, $100/month average. The house is “enough” – with a spare bedroom for grandkids and company 🙂 And the 2/3 acre level grounds with big veggie garden, and the Giant views of the sunsets and sunrises make this truly a paradise on earth, for very little money.

      Again – it is about “choices”… When I turned in my retirement last year, saying I was helping caretake two grandkids, 8 and 10, while their Mom was away at college 4-5 days aweek/overnight, I told my employer I did not want to work full time anymore and have 5-6 day a week grandkids caretaking… (I also babysit when she was home on weekends working)… so parttime – 3 days a week is what we settled on. Yes – I agree – if one can work parttime and get full health insurance it is well worth it… for awhile 🙂

    • I agree it is easy to exceed $10K/yr on insurances and tax with a modest house. Include car insurance and it is even easier. We pay ~$7K yr property tax on modest (1300sf) log cabin. ~$4k yr health/dental/drug insurance for me with employer support (she cannot find any under 10k/yr), $1200 house insurance, $1800 auto insurance for two (older paid for) cars. That is $14K/yr or $12.2K/yr w/o auto ins. Neither of us have been to the doctor in years, so i would be happy to drop my so-called “full coverage” health plan for a low cost “catastrophic only” plan for both of us, but such is not available.

  5. Another comment 🙂 As to who is feeling retirement is possible and who is not…. at 57, single, I am the elder of 4 siblings. My youngest sibling at 51 and single will be retiring shortly – no problem. My siblings 55 and 53, both married, do not see retirement happening soon… those are the two who still have younger children at home tho – whereas my youngest sibling and I have no children left at home… I just have a passle of part time grandkids.

    I wonder if any of the decision about being able to retire hinges on single vs married and/or still raising minor children or not? Just an observation noted in my personal family. 🙂

    Enjoying this conversation!

  6. I can really appreciate where you are coming from. You say:
    “The Baby Boomer generation was, by many, defined by the rejection of traditional values and the optimism of a newer, better vision for ourselves and our society. We thought we were special.”

    What annoys me is how this attitude has stuck with me even though I have known it isn’t true for the last 30 years. Your generalisation of being (almost) debt free/mortgage free as we move into our 60s is predicated either on nothing going wrong in one’s life (divorce, business failure in the last decade or so) or being super well focussed on re-establishing yourself after a financial debacle. The ones I feel sorry for are those whose small businesses which they expected to provide them with security in their later years have failed as the business conditions changed substantially in their local area.

    I think we have to just accept those feelings you express in your last paragraph and then move on. We were sold an idea that was impossible given the structure of the financial elite. A small percentage may be able through skill and good fortune to break out of the rut of their forebears and do very well in each generation, but I see an equal number who through lack of skill, psychological difficulties and pure bad luck slip back.

    My way of dealing with the feelings of helplessness or hopelessness: make a nice cup of tea, go to a tidy warm part of my home and start doing something creative which will contribute positively to my future – usually something simple like making Christmas cards, or knitting. Despite the financial elite I still largely create my own life.

  7. Being a older model 1932 I have fond memories of the end of the depression, one blessing we was farmers in Colorado rasing grains mostly wheat I had 2 uncles that lost everything in the dust storms in Oklahoma. so making do was a family nessicity,
    My Grandmother had a appartment house in Denver which she lost to the bankers hence she hid her cash all over her home when asked about it she stated she would rather be robbed by a honest crook than a banker which was true to most of that generation and not much has changed since then.
    Self reliance was the order of the day along with survival A condition which appears to be repeating itsself Over the years the government has encroched on the population like a infection starts out small and soon encompases the whole body, Today we no longer have a republic we have a dictatorship and a collection of petty officials running the nation. This is not going to turn out well for our nation as I see no way to turn it around to a republic again. we still farm so our food supply is stable and we also maintain a stock of clothing and ammo for our wheapons. The best part is our remote location as it will be the large cities that erupt first,,,you are responsible for your own safety health and well being as the government will take good care of its self.

    • I loved your comment from your grandmother that said she “would rather be robbed by a honest crook than a banker which was true to most of that generation and not much has changed since then.”

      I have been watching a series on Netflix about the pilgrims, the rebels and the revolution. It is making me believe that we are now back at square one.

    • Isn’t it amazing how things always tend to come full circle? Great comments from someone who obviously knows what their talking about.

  8. I forgot to mention a mentor used to describe that it was useful for a rat to adapt to the cheese getting moved in the maze. Hated the thought, but now seems an important message! Just business, right?

  9. This is what i see (ymmv):

    The debt level is not sustainable, therefore it will not continue for too much longer. A debt is just a promise to pay, and morally all such promises have equal value. However, our owners (to use George Carlin’s term) have decided that promises to pay them are much more important than promises to pay pensions, SS, Medicare etc. Thus we hear these programs must be “reduced” (defaulted on) to lower the debt level, but it would be “catastrophic” to default on those obligations owed to banksters; notwithstanding that many of the obligations to banksters were incurred by taxpayers on the advice of banksters (lest financial armeggedon occur!) to bail out these same banksters from their losing bets. Alternatively (or in addition) massive undetstated inflation (ie. real inflation 12%, CPI 2%) is a sneakier underhanded default method that assumes we are too stupid to figure out they are lying and robbing us by “legally” counterfieting the currency.

    Considering retirement, the possiblility that promises to us (pensions, SS, Medicare, etc), will hold (for how long? at what real value?) over promises to banksters (FED T-Bill Interest, interest on federal reserve notes etc) needs to be evaluated carefully.

    If you can collect a substantial pension now, but you conclude both the pension and your job are likely to vaporize in the coming financial paroxism (or the pension has more survival chance than the job), then maybe you retire now and use the extra time to prepare. However, if you think your pension may vaporize, but the job will weather the storm(s), then you might choose not to retire.

    Either way, retired or working, we all need to build a resilience that does not depend on the paper promises of others. Some say that gold and/or silver will provide that, and no doubt these metals will appreciate, at least in nominal terms. They should rise in real terms also, but the rise is taxable per nominal terms, which when paid, could wipe out all real gains. Also, in the last depression, US goverment forced citizens to sell their metals to government at a (low) set price. Who knows what they will do this time? Having some gold or silver is not a bad thing, but actual resilience comes from producing our own food, water and energy and/or in producing something that can be traded locally for these. Keep in mind enough surplus will be needed to pay property taxes, in most cases. (If your municipality/county collapses you will likely need the tax money for security). Setting up to produce most of our own water, energy and food from on site resources can easily be a full time job, at least for awhile, and that makes optional retirement attractive if otherwise feasable. Getting organic gardens producing enough to feed a family can take years. Adding livestock where allowed (chickens, rabbits, goats etc) solves the protein problem but increases the workload. Once these things are in place and food productions is routine (i wish) a new “job” can be sought (created), if there is still an economy to work in.

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