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Generation X: Prepare For A Frugal Retirement

I'll have a frugal retirement, but my kids will have a puppet theatre.

During our frugal retirement Robert and I can entertain each other with puppet shows in our kids’ old puppet theater.

Hamilton Nolan of Gawker is so funny. And, occasionally cruel if you’re a member of Generation Y. He wrote a hilarious (and depressing) piece yesterday on the grim prospects of the Generation X retirement: Generation X,” the Poor Old People of the Future, Will Never Retire. It was inspired by a Jeanna Smialek’s piece in Bloomberg News, Lean Retirement Faces U.S. Generation X as Wealth Trails.

Dog Food Days

Back in March, Nolan referred to Generation X’s coming retirement years as Dog Food Days.

I discussed the article last night on Twitter with my buddy Steve who writes for The Oklahoman. During our exchange the startling differences between Baby Boomers and Generation X occurred to me. They can summarized in this asinine bumper sticker.

I'm spending my kids inheritance bumper sticker

Baby Boomer Bumper Sticker

Here’s my tweet about it.

It’s true, right? If Generation X rewrote that Boomer bumper sticker it would say exactly the opposite: “I’M SPENDING MY RETIREMENT ON MY KIDS.”

What more could you ever need to know about Gen-Xers? An under-protected generation of American children (as Neil Howe calls us) grew up and became helicopter parents. (Look out Gen Y, Generation Z is going to torture you.)

So, the train ran over us. We never even knew it was coming. Our reaction was delayed. Then we had kids of our own and suddenly swerved hard to the right – or maybe it was the left. Either way, we over-corrected in the rearing of our own kids. The under-protected produced the over-parented. We’ve blown what retirement savings we might have had on our kids. Over the last few years, I’ve spent nearly $20,000 on family vacations and trips.

Frugal Retirement | Dog Food vs. Soylent Green

Sometimes, I wonder how this story ends. Will we regret not saving more for ourselves? Fer ser, the majority of us are facing a frugal retirement. Aside from problems with Social Security, pensions are unreliable and 401ks are — please — a total joke. I wonder if I’ll be able to afford crackers with my dog food.  It doesn’t sound too bad since I’ve been worried about having to eat people since 1973. That was the year I saw Soylent Green on our 13-inch color TV. I was five-years-old and already worried about the future of Generation X.

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. Andi Fisher

    Not having kids I don’t feel fully warranted commenting on this, but I have definitely seen close friends of mine who are in their 50’s and have zero retirement, the have raised wonderful kids (they truly are) and spent every penny on them. Even for college, instead of student loans they took out a HELOC on their home because they didn’t want their kids to have debt. I think their crazy, but without kids, I don’t really have a leg to stand on when it comes to giving advice!

  2. Nancy

    So frightening, yet so true…Gen X does seem to be spending Retirement $ on their Gen Zs. If we are so cautious about our children, why aren’t we more cautious about our finances? It’s not too late to shift where we spend before we’re eating dog food!

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