Richard Eisenberg is Managing Editor of PBS’ Nextavenue.org, a site for people 50+, where he is also the editor of the Money and Work & Purpose channels. Previously, he was Executive Editor of Money magazine, Front Page Finance Editor of Yahoo! and Special Projects Director/Money Editor at Good Housekeeping. He is author of two books: How to Avoid a Midlife Financial Crisis and The Money Book of Personal Finance.
As you note in your Forbes bio, you started saving at the first opportunity (but still wish you’d saved more). What inspired your early start, and what do you think might have helped you save more along the way?
Richard: As a personal finance writer at Money, I told readers how important it was to save for their retirement through 401(k) plans, Individual Retirement Accounts, and automatic withdrawals into mutual funds from their bank accounts, so I naturally wanted to follow my own advice. A nagging financial adviser might have helped me save more along the way.
Your book How to Avoid a Mid-Life Financial Crisis came out in the late 1980s. Thirty years later, how different would your advice be today?
Richard: I don’t think my advice would be much different generally speaking. But the tax laws have changed quite a bit since then, so I would need to update the advice to reflect that.
Recent features in ProPublica and the Wall Street Journal, along with your own work, have put a spotlight on the dire circumstances facing retirees today. Do you think this issue is getting more attention currently than a few years ago, and that we may be reaching a tipping point?
Richard: I do think this issue is rightly getting more attention and hope that we may be reaching a tipping point. I believe pre-retirees better understand the importance of saving for retirement, but economic circumstances keep some from being able to do so.
The Respectful Exits Longevity Agenda calls on employers to make specific changes in policy and practice to support aging workers. What kind of impact do you think those changes could have?
Richard: I think if more employers offered phased retirement programs and flexible hours to their older workers, some of these employees would be more likely to continue working for more years than they would otherwise, which would be helpful both to the workers (and their finances) and to the employers.
Our new tool ThePhazer gives aging workers step-by-step guidance to request and obtain extended work and flexible and phased retirement options. Can this kind of approach add to the solutions for individuals seeking guidance around retirement?
Richard: I do think ThePhazer could be helpful for experienced workers hoping to move to a phased retirement or flexible working hours. Any guidance they can receive would be greatly appreciated by them.