Market and Sell YOUR Books: My special Tips for Indie Authors

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cultural Survival Rules Help Keep Retired Expats From Packing Their Bags and Going Home; Retirement Made Easy

Cultural differences important to consider for expats

AS A NEWLY retired person, do you really expect EVERYTHING to go as planned? Consider the retiree who chooses to move to another country as an expat and then winds up going back home, giving up on the dream of living in a new culture because he or she can't seem to make needed cultural adjustments.
Like so many others who try this retirement experiment, conflicts (known and unknown) with the new country's folklore, language, rules, rituals, habits, lifestyles, attitudes, beliefs, and customs, too often end up in a nightmare - with the retired person wishing they had stayed home in the first place.
From folklore to customs, such "clues" typically link and give a common identity to a particular group of people at a specific point in time, and yet they may result in major points of misunderstanding.
Have you ever felt misunderstood when trying to communicate with someone NOT from your own culture? It is easy to happen...
19 Diversity Action Steps
But a new set of 19 Diversity Action steps to aid in enhancing multicultural communication skills -- from expecting misunderstandings to occur, to not expecting others to believe in your own trustworthiness--provides good information for helping anyone who wants to reach others from cultures other than their own. These rules provide a solid guide, especially, to the retired person who wants to try a new and different life; away from the home they have known all of their life.
In other words, these diversity action steps could keep them from repacking their suitcase and asking for a ride to the airport. And they come from Tulin Diversiteam Associates, Wyncote, Penn., an intercultural team of 15 professionals who for the past eighteen years have specialized in "Excellence Through Diversity" Coaching, Consulting and Training for executives, managers, supervisors and employees.
Step number one, expecting multicultural misunderstandings are going to happen, at least some of the time, just makes sense. For example, I once took a bus trip in the mountains of Ecuador. The bus stopped along side of the road to allow ambulances through following a terrible motor cycle accident. It was obvious to me that the motorcyclist was dead, since he was lying on the highway and not moving -- and he was not being given any medical attention.
I saw the unfortunate man as DEAD on the road from a motorcycle accident. Period. Story over.
BUT THE NEXT day, I was talking with my Spanish instructor about what I saw, and used a particular verb phrase that indicated the man was dead. It turned out this particular phrase (Spanish for "was dead") was not accurate in her eyes, because his death was not totally confirmed and the accident took place just recently.
She told me that I should have used different words for my description of death in order for my story to be a completely accurate version of what I was telling her. Otherwise, I would not be perceived as a trustworthy source of information to others, at least in Ecuador. It was a valuable piece of feedback, and I made the change.
But let us move on.
Another step suggested by this communication team is to ask "What's going on here?" when a communication problem arises. "Be willing to change gears or communication styles if necessary."
Easy to be Misunderstood in Conversations with People From Other Cultures
Have you ever felt totally misunderstood when in a conversation with others who do not share your ethnicity? I know that I have, and here is another quick story about a time when I had to ask myself this question, in New York City, and then make a quick shift:
When my son was graduating from law school, I ran into a tough communication problem with a group of people who were sitting behind me. The convocation was in a small, crowded room and the group was talking during the program. I asked them to be quiet, so that I could hear, but I stupidly used a phrased that has some racist connotation -- asking for "you people" to please quit talking.
I knew what I had done, as soon as I said it, and sure enough, one man got in my face quickly, asking me what I meant when I said "you people."
Thankfully, I immediately figured out what he was thinking, seeing this phrase as an ethnic slur, a type of stereotyping; it was rather rude of me to use this figure of speech in the first place, but I simply meant to refer to the entire group, not just one person.
I quickly tried to explain my intentions -- that I have a hearing problem and when a number of people were talking, I could not hear above the noise what was going on. I also stated that I did not mean this as an ethnic slur, but that I could not hear the graduation speech. I said this in a moderate tone of voice and looked him in the eyes when I said it.
He got my message, laughed and asked his relatives to tone it down.
Here are several other suggestions from the Tulin team -- ideas we should all be able to relate to:
--Don't generalize about individuals because of their particular culture; individual differences exist within any group.
--Investigate whether communication style or process, rather than content, is the cause of a conflict.
--Give honest and practical feedback; don't "walk on eggshells" or speak for a person from another culture.
All good ideas to remember and use, especially when in an unfamiliar culture.
Wide Differences When Conversation Nonverbal
While the Tulin list focuses on verbal communication, there are also wide differences in nonverbal expression that make a difference when seeking to understand people from various cultures.
In fact, non­verbal communication or body language provides an important part of how people pass on information to each other and these differences also vary from culture to culture.
Consider, for instance, that hand and arm gestures, touch, and eye contact (or its lack) are a few of the aspects of non­verbal communication that may vary significantly depending upon cultural background.
There are a number of gestures commonly used in the United States that may have a different meaning and/or be offensive to those from other cultures. Just one example focuses on the use of a finger or hand to indicate "come here please". Because this is the gesture is also used to beckon dogs in some cultures, it can be considered very offensive to many people around the world.
Pointing with one finger is also considered rude in some cultures; Asians typically use their entire hand to point to something, for instance.
Understanding the potential problems associated with nonverbal communication in health screenings, the Vermont Department of Health recently underwrote a guide for practitioners that could benefit their health-screening program. Several suggestions include issues such as touch:
"While patting a child's head is considered to be a friendly or affectionate gesture in our culture, it is considered inappropriate by many Asians to touch someone on the head, which is believed to be a sacred part of the body. In the Middle East, the left hand is reserved for bodily hygiene and should not be used to touch another or transfer objects.In Muslim cultures, touch between opposite gendered individuals is generally inappropriate."
Another nonverbal communication area noted by the Vermont Health Department includes eye contact. While in mainstream Western culture eye contact is considered as attentiveness and honesty--we are taught that we should "look people in the eye" when talking--in many other cultures including Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern, and Native American, eye contact is thought to be disrespectful or rude.
Lack of eye contact does not mean that a person is not paying attention, even though it is seen this way in North American culture. In many non Western cultures, women may especially avoid eye contact with men because it can be taken as a sign of sexual interest.
The Vermont health group noted especially that when working with babies although it is common in Western culture for adults to admire babies and young children and comment upon how cute they are, this is avoided in Hmong and Vietnamese cultures "...for fear that these comments may be overheard by a spirit that will try to steal the baby or otherwise cause some harm to come to him or her."
With these rules in mind, and from learning as much as possible about cultural communication differences before moving into a new culture, a retiree who wants to live as an expat outside of her or his familiar culture has a better shot at survival away from home.

To arrange for Susan Klopfer to speak to your organization on retirement topics, contact her at

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Occupy Retirement! Baby Boomers Retiring; Glum, Happy

By Susan Klopfer,
Speaker and Author

Baby Boomers reaching retirement age.

DO YOU HEAR a growing rumble in the distance? Chalk it up to the coming the Baby Boomer Express, an enormous number of older folks in this country getting ready to retire. Just three years ago, Boomers began turning 65, took their IRAs and pensions (if they had them), and started quitting their jobs and drawing social security en masse.
Who are these boomer-people, and why are they scaring so many politicians and younger folks?
Add 65 years to January 1st, 1946 and you come up with January 1st, 2011 -- the moment when the first Baby Boomers started reaching retirement age. According to a report by the Pew Research Institute, on that very day, today, and for every day for the next 19 years, 10,000 baby boomers will reach age 65.
What Are Boomers and Where Did They Come From?
So who invented the term Baby Boomers, and how are these Boomers shaping the world to come?
When World War II ended, and after U.S. troops came home, they quickly settled down and started having babies. You have seen the classic advertisements and sit-coms: slender moms wearing aprons and tending to their young children, while dad and his briefcase are on the job. You know, hat June and Ward Cleaver look...
Boomers really have already changed America through every stage of their lives - education, family planning, employment - and now, Baby Boomers are Coming of Retirement Age, and making a bigger impact than ever before.
Here are several statistical facts from the U.C. Census Bureau to consider - facts that scare politicians and make younger people true believers in the power of the Boomer generation:
·         Some 78 million people were born between 1946 and 1964, which is defined as the Baby Boomer era, the largest in American history.
·         In 1957, alone, 4.3 million babies were born in the U.S. This is more than any year before or since.
·         In 1965, 36% of the U.S. population was under 18 years of age; today 18% is under 18.

Here is still more to consider from the U.S. Census Department and other research organizations:
·         The first boomers turned 60 on January 1, 2006. (D'Vera Cohn and Paul Taylor)
·         Every 7 seconds an American turns 50 -- more than 12,500 people every day. (U.S. Census)
·         As of 2009, 48 is the largest age group in the United States. (U.S. Census)
·         By 2015, those who are 50 and older will represent nearly half, or 45% of the U.S. population. (Cohn and Taylor)
·         By 2030, the 65-plus population will double to about 71.5 million, and by 2050 will grow to 86.7 million people. (U.S. Census)
·         Of the 72 million family households in the U.S., 34 million of them are baby boomer households. (MetLife Mature Market Institute)
·         A 50-year-old female can expect to live 82.5 years; a male 78.5 years. (The National Center for Health Statistics)

At first, this may seem like a lot of raw numbers and statistics to make much sense of, but what do these numbers really tell us, and what do Boomers think and want?
First of all, and perhaps even most important, is that the United States is seriously about to change regarding its composition. For now, just 13% of Americans are 65 years and older. But by 2030, only 18 years away from now, when all members of the Boomer generation have reached that age, fully 18% of the U.S. will be 65 years and older, according to Pew Research Center population projections.
(Even if it appears that we are talking about old folks, let me clarify - I am a 64-year-old Boomer, born in 1948, and like most of my cohorts, I believe that old age does not even start until age 72, a fact backed up by Pew. While about half of us might say we feel younger than our actual age, fully 61% of Boomers are feeling more spry than their age might imply. Most Boomers, in fact, feel nine years younger than their true age.)
Things Are Seldom What They Seem
While the stereotyped image of a happy retired man on his way to the fishing stream or joyful retired grandparents on a jaunt to Disney World with grandchildren, this age group comes to mind when the word "retirement" appears, in fact, this age group is not as upbeat as one might think - even if most don't feel particularly old for their age.
"Baby Boomers are more downbeat than other age groups about the trajectory of their own lives and about the direction of the nation as a whole," report D'Vera Cohn and Paul Taylor, for Pew Research Center.
In fact, just two years ago (2010), Pew researchers found Baby Boomers to be a "pretty glum" group of folks. Some 80 percent said they were dissatisfaction with "the way things are going in the country today, compared with 60% of those ages 18 to 29 (Millennials), 69% of those ages 30 to 45 (Generation Xers) and 76% of those ages 65 and older (the Silent and Greatest Generations), according to an additional 20120 Pew Research Center survey.
Boomers Both Gloomy and Hopeful
"Some of this pessimism is related to life cycle -- for most people, middle age is the most demanding and stressful time of life," report Cohn and Taylor, citing psychological research (Stone, Arthur A. et al, "A snapshot of the age distribution of psychological well-being in the United States," PNAS, June 1, 2010, Vol. 107, No. 22.).
Yet, it was Baby Boomers, who in the 1960s expressed high hopes for remaking society, while spending most of their adulthood "trailing other age cohorts in overall life satisfaction." (We wanted desperately to change the status quo, but this never happened.)
More Cohn and Taylor findings about Boomers helps others understand who they are - and what they want. These stats particularly stand out --
·         Baby Boomers are more accepting of changes in American culture than adults ages 65 and older, though generally less tolerant than the young.
·         Regarding personal finances, economic security and retirement expectations, Boomers feel more damaged by the Great Recession than do older adults.
·         Late-comers to high tech, Boomers are beginning to close the Internet and social media gap with younger generations. Fully half of the younger Boomers (ages 46-55) now use social networks and than half (55%) of older Boomers (ages 56-64) now watch online video.
·         Like most U.S. citizens, Boomers have done some partisan switching in recent years, and narrowly favored Barack Obama for president in 200.
·         In their core political attitudes about the role of government, they're more conservative than younger adults and more liberal than older adults, according to a comprehensive 2010 Pew Research report.
·         But, a new Pew Research survey finds Boomers oppose legislations that would take a bite out of their own pocketbooks...some 63% (compared with 58% of all adults) oppose raising the age for qualifying for full Social Security benefits.

WHEN RELIGION COMES INTO the picture, Boomers appear to be less religious that people over 65, but more religious than younger adults. Less than half (43%) say the a "strong" members of their religion - higher than younger adults and lower than older folks. Less than half (40%) say they attend religious services once a week. Some 13% report having no religious affiliation, again - less than younger people but more than older adults.
For myself, as I have quietly moved into this over-60 group, I have been thinking a lot, recently about the quality of the rest of my days, the consequences of the decisions I have made and a legacy - even if it is unassuming, and am reminded of a quote by the philosopher Nietzsche, "The consequences of our actions take hold of us, quite indifferent to our claim that meanwhile we have improved."
We still have time to make a difference, to improve the world; if our own gloom will not overtake us. I only hope that our last years are filled once again with hope matched by action. Let us get going, and Occupy Retirement!
Susan Klopfer, author and speaker, writes and speaks on civil rights and diversity. Her newest  books, Who Killed Emmett Till?" "Where Rebels Roost: Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited" and "The Emmett Till Book" are now in print and are carried in most online bookstores including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and in eBook versions on iBooks and Smashwords. "Where Rebels Roost" focuses on the Mississippi Delta, with stories about Emmett Till, Fannie Lou Hamer, Aaron Henry, Amzie Moore and many other civil rights foot soldiers. These books emphasize unsolved murders of Delta blacks from mid 1950s on. She is also the author of eBook, Cash In On Diversity, written especially for businesses and their employees.  Klopfer is an award-winning journalist and former acquisitions and development editor for Prentice-Hall. Her computer book, "Abort, Retry, Fail!" was an alternate selection by the Book of-the-Month Club.
Article Source:

To arrange for Susan Klopfer to speak to your organization on retirement topics, contact her at
Baby Boomers: Explore Pew Research Surveys and Reports
Below are hyperlinks to Pew Research Center publications from recent years that include data specifically about Baby Boomers.
Social Behaviors and Values
Economy and Personal Finances

Monday, May 14, 2012

Retirement doesn't have to mean empty pockets; speak and earn money

How Active Retirees Speak, Sell Books, Reports On Retirement Made Easy

By Susan Klopfer

Public Speaking Takes Practice; fun and potentially income-producing for retirees
Are you a retiree who is looking for something intriguing and fun to do, while making extra money? If your answer is yes, you are not alone. In fact, most older employees (65 percent) told researchers they would like to have some form of work in their retirement, according to a 2011 Harris Interactive survey of 1,001 people age 55 and older commissioned by Sun America.

Interestingly, of those surveyed few said they want full time work; only 4 percent told Harris researchers they want to work full time in retirement. Some 25 percent said they want to work part time in retirement, and 36 percent would rather to go back and forth between work and leisure, reports Dave Bernard for U.S. News.

IF YOU FIND yourself looking for either full or part time activity to keep your brain active, while making some extra money, consider speaking before groups of pre and post-retirees about successful retirement ideas. A popular way to get started is speaking before a local organization or club, with a well researched book or report to sell at the back of the room.

With retirement a good topic to address (it should be, since baby boomers are starting to retire in large numbers), here are three important retirement questions that you could write a speech around:

-- Why are some people more ready for retirement than others?
-- Are there any specific issues that most people overlook when considering retirement?
-- Why is the idea of retirement difficult for some, and easy for others?

Any speakers who are fast on their feet with answers to questions like these should impress their audience. To prepare to speak before a group, here is some quick help in preparing your cheat sheet (or talking points) for your speech on making retirement easy, focusing on several or all of these questions.

Who really IS ready for retirement?

People who help or coach others to prepare for retirement often introduce some of the following issues to see if the people they are working with are retirement-ready:

--Do you believe your financial support plan covers you appropriately for the years ahead?
--Do you have other plans for your retirement (how you will spend your time)?
--Do you exercise for 20 minutes without a break at least three times a week?

All are appropriate questions, and even more like them come from The Retirement Readiness Assessment sponsored by My Next Phase. I took the online quiz and actually learned a few things about retirement readiness, so I challenge you to take it, too.

So, what appears to be some over-looked retirement issues?

WHILE PEOPLE WHO are retiring are typically advised to take stock of their financial resources, they don't always consider their psychological resources, says Nancy Schlossberg, Professor Emerita of Education at the University of Maryland.

Dr. Schlossberg has written extensively about retirement planning, noting that many baby boomers "didn't realize what was at stake when they left their jobs. They didn't think about things like how to structure their lives, their time, and how they might matter to others."

This researcher tells About Senior Living editor Shannon O'Brien that identity is key. "...when someone can say, for example, "I'm a professor," that's one thing, but when that identity is no longer there, it can be quite upsetting. It can take time to figure out a new identity."

Now, moving on to...

Why is retirement hard for some, and easier for others?

As a retirement blogger and author, I do not see this question asked often enough, and it is a good one. "Jacob" who blogs for Early Retirement Extremes, notes that how people approach personal finance makes a true difference, distinguishing why some people retire easier than others.

According to this "extreme" blogger: "To get ahead, you must either press the accelerator harder or ease on the brake. Apparently lots of people are not fully aware of just how hard they're flooring the brake. Therefore try this exercise. Every time you touch something [that you are considering for purchase], ask yourself whether this item has accelerated your income or whether it has decreased your savings."

Any other important, last-minute tips?

A wealth of retirement information is found online just by searching with the major browsers. I suggest taking a look at Investopedia, a particularly helpful site filled with many sophisticated ideas for soon-to-be retirees. Here is one of its many last-minute retirement tips:

ESTABLISH A CASH Emergency Fund to get you through the hard times. "It acts as a safety net in case something expensive or unplanned happens, such as medical expenses, market downturns or expensive home maintenance issues, just to name a few."

In fact, retirees are often advised to have three to six months of emergency cash reserves available separate from their investment portfolio. In normal economic times, this may be okay, but if the economic downturns, and the retiree is living off savings then it would help to add 12 to 18 months of cash to the investment portfolio to allow bonds and stocks to recover during bad times, according to Investopedia.

Are you ready for your retirement speech? With this information in hand, and your additional research, you should keep the attention of your audience. (Be sure to have your well-researched book or report ready to sell, and business cards to hand out.)

To arrange for Susan Klopfer to speak to your organization on retirement topics, contact her at

Susan Klopfer, author and speaker, writes on civil rights and diversity. Her newest books, Who Killed Emmett Till?" "Where Rebels Roost: Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited" and "The Emmett Till Book" are now in print and are carried in most online bookstores including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and in eBook versions on iBooks and Smashwords. "Where Rebels Roost" focuses on the Mississippi Delta, with stories about Emmett Till, Fannie Lou Hamer, Aaron Henry, Amzie Moore and many other civil rights foot soldiers. These books emphasize unsolved murders of Delta blacks from mid 1950s on. She is also the author of eBook, Cash In On Diversity. Klopfer is an award-winning journalist and former acquisitions and development editor for Prentice-Hall. Her computer book, "Abort, Retry, Fail!" was an alternate selection by the Book of-the-Month Club.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Expat Retirement Works Best When Differences Understood and Appreciated

Ready to retire and want to become an expat?

 After working nearly eight months months to get a special “pensionada” visa, scouting out the correct pet carriers to bring along her dog and cat, holding umpteen garage sales and finally selling her mission-style bungalow at a small profit – to retire in Paraguay as an expat – Bess G. flew off to retirement paradise.

By the end of three months, Bess returned home.

This native Californian never was quite sure how to tell others why her move did not work out, but accepts she made mistakes. Some days wishes she could take it all back -- her current dilemma is finding a new, affordable retirement solution. For the rest of her life, she will be living in a small apartment, she rationalizes.

Packing your bags, finding pet carriers, and leaving for a romantic spot in Belize, Spain, Paraguay, Uruguay, Ecuador, Ireland or elsewhere may sound quite exciting at first. After all, the notion of living the rest of one's life near the ocean or next to snow-capped mountains with new places to visit and new people to meet, is what captured Bess’s imagination in the first place.

While there are numerous stories of individual expat success (and failure), especially on retirement blogs and magazines, there there seems to be few formal expat studies revolving around retirees.

It may help, though, to pay attention to what some corporations have learned about placing workers in new countries -- turning their employees and often their families into expatriates.

One human resource manager believes that it takes a special person to make necessary adjustments, and that when business expatriates fail to adjust to a new county, they have often been selected by managers “in a knee-jerk reaction” to fill a new or unexpected vacancy on foreign soil, and failure is more typical than not.

Sharon Lobel in "Global Leadership Competencies: Managing to a Different Drumbeat" (Human Resource Management, Spring 1990) asserts that managers tend to choose the most technically competent candidates “even though the qualities that made candidates a success domestically won't necessarily make them a success internationally.”

With Lobel’s observations in mind, it is not surprising that a high expatriate failure rate has existed for many corporations. While studies of failure rates vary, it appears that between 16 percent and 40 percent of personnel generally return early, with aborted assignments occurring as often as 70 percent of the time in developing countries, she finds.

So, if talented, educated employees cannot make it in out-of-country assignment, it is not surprising that a number of retirees trying to become expats end up returning home, most likely angry and not understanding why they could not succeed (or simply blaming their failure on the country and its “weird” citizens).

One answer to expat failure comes from the field of anthropology – ethnocentrism – a word explaining why people from one culture often have a difficult time adjusting to a new one. This word comes from the belief in the superiority of one person over another, stemming from a variety of sources.

You may have seen ethnocentrism in action, or felt it. Some expats who have a strong awareness of it say they are embarrassed when a new retiree moves into their community and begins showing signs of superiority to the local people.

 Are you certain you have “better manners” than a poor person or someone from Mexico? Do some people who speak with an “accent” have “poor” English skills? Are your children “smarter” because they had a better (more expensive) education? Is American medicine automatically "better" than what is locally practiced?... 

For anyone answering “yes” to any of these questions, this probably signals that becoming an expat might be difficult, and here is why:

Ethnocentrism usually starts with the belief of superiority in one's personal ethnic group; it can also develop from racial or religious differences. Conscious or not, people who are ethnocentric think that they are smarter, better, even superior than others for reasons based solely on their background and heritage, a practice clearly related to problems of both racism and prejudice.

Those who have been educated to recognize problems associated with ethnocentrism, would likely find it easier to relocate and live among people who are “different,” recognizing that ethnocentrism takes place nearly everywhere and everyday on local and political levels, and that it gets in the way of really knowing and understanding people from other groups.

Unfortunately, many Americans are not very familiar with this term, or that since the beginning of this country’s conception, the United States has often thought of itself as more powerful, more economically sound, and just generally "better" than other nations. 
When traveling to other countries, unless one is very cautious, ethnocentrism often appears as “looking down” on people of other cultures or behaving in a superior way. Shouting in one’s own language, rather than taking time to learn the hosting country’s language, is only one example.

Ethnocentrism can be expressed through nonverbal signals that are automatic to the person sending them, such as standing too close or too far away from a person, waggling a finger at someone while speaking too loudly or interrupting conversation while using a know-it-all expression, or not taking into any consideration the communication mores or practices of the hosting country.

(Still questioning ethnocentrism? Consider that European ethnocentrism is still practiced today in schools where history courses typically focus on the history of the United States and Europe, largely ignoring other parts of the world.)

The person who is a successful expat typically knows that despite cultural differences, we are all still human. There is no critical difference between a Parguay citizen and a citizen of Thailand, and so forth. To survive as a stranger in a strange land – a visitor in a new land – requires education and enough personal depth to avoid unfair prejudices that result from ethnocentrism.

Dr. Ben van den Anker of Australia, a cross cultural consultant, advises “While it is tempting to daydream that all we’ll need to do is find a nice little cottage on a sunny beach somewhere and our lives will be complete, [social] research suggests that expats are happiest when they go out of their way to be part of the local community and also find an activity that they love.”

Perhaps now that Bess is back home, with time on her hands, she might consider trying again to become an expat, this time taking Dr. van den Anker’s advice for making out-of-country living successful: 

“All it takes is some understanding and appreciation of unfamiliar cultures and people who have something of worth to offer.”

If she does try becoming an expat once more, not only will Bess lower her retirement expenses, she could experience something unique that comes from moving into a new and different culture--learning to appreciate others in a new way and freedom from  the defines of ethnocentrism.
To arrange for Susan Klopfer to speak to your organization on retirement topics, contact her at

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Not Many American Workers 'Somewhat Confident' On Retirement Plans

JILL B, A JUST TURNED 64- year-old, pre-retiree, admits she is "a little afraid" of what's to come when the topic of financial security rears its head in friendly conversations.
"I probably would be more afraid if I actually KNEW what's coming," she nervously laughs.
Jill and her friends always thought The American Dream was supposed to include a comfortable and financially secure retirement.
"But many of us lost some or even a great deal of our retirement savings several years ago when the stock market crashed, and economic recovery never really came."
Some of Jill's friends, waiting to recover financially, were forced into retirement due to age discrimination by younger supervisors or for real medical reasons.
"Some of them are not as secure as we all had hoped to be," Jill says, adding she feels "lucky that I have kept my job, so far."
Jill is not alone in her fear.
ONLY ABOUT HALF (52 percent) of Americans recently reported to social researchers they are "very or somewhat confident" they will have enough money to live comfortably after quitting work, in an annual survey of American attitudes toward retirement and retirement security.
This finding comes from the longest running, annual fact-finding look at American attitudes, conducted every January by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), an organization founded in 1978 with a mission to provide "credible, reliable, and objective research, data, and analysis" on employment.
EBRI gets its money through membership dues, grants, and contributions and its financial base includes a cross section of pension funds; businesses; associations; labor unions; health care providers; insurers; banks; mutual funds; government organizations; and service firms, including actuarial firms, employee benefit consulting firms, law firms, accounting firms, and investment management firms, according to its online contact information.
Even with the continuing economic rebound taking place this past year, ERBI's survey findings ended up about the same as last year - with about half its respondents NOT feeling confident about retiring.
Joe L., also 64 (but no longer employed), is somewhat confident he will have a financially secure retirement. "I'm moving to another country, where I can live on less money," he says.

Trend toward financial insecurity
WHILE THE CHANGES were not statistically significant in this year's survey, the trend was definitely in the direction of greater financial insecurity, reports Merrill Goozner for The Fiscal Times.
Surveyors found "less false optimism in 2011 and 2012 than they had been in prior years," adds Mathew Greenwald (whose polling firm conducted the survey for EBRI), noting that increased awareness among those who are "not on track" to reach their retirement goals, and their confidence, went down.
Nothing new was discovered in how retirement security is viewed, and in fact, the 22 years that EBRI has conducted its poll has been " era marked by declining job security, disappearing defined benefit pension plans and constant questioning about the viability of government retirement programs like Social Security and Medicare," Goozner reports.
For Jill and Joe, early retirement was a significant goal for their parents. But even this outlook has changed: some 37 percent of workers believe they must work past 65, compared to 11 percent even as early as in 1991, state EBRI findings.
In the past year, at least half who responded in related polls, not conducted for EBRI, see saving for retirement as critical - "the number one financial issue for nearly half of Americans," according to Goozner.
Yet the EBRI findings report something different--that 42 percent polled gave the uncertain job market as their number one issue.

Americans not so concerned about retirement -- for now
"Retirement is not America's primary concern right now," said Jack VanDerhei of EBRI, in a recent news release. "Their concern is job security."
Both Joe and Jill also believe that Social Security and Medicare will provide less than what they planned for.
But again, EBRI findings do not match their skepticism.
Even with various politicians speaking out to curb Social Security and Medicare, EBRI polled workers showed more confidence this year than last, stating belief that current level of benefits would be there when they retire.
Some 59 percent asked about entitlement programs responded confidentially that Social Security would provide them with benefits at least equal to benefits received by retirees today, a significant jump of 10 percent points from a year ago.
While most of Joe and Jill's attitudes and experiences appear to resemble those of workers polled by EBRI, there appears to be one more difference, and that is in the possibility of seeking help through technology.
Both Joe and Jill say they are comfortable in looking online for help with retirement planning, and in using technologies such as smart phones and tablets.
But EBRI's January 2012 survey found few participating workers and retirees comfortable using such online technologies, including seeking out help from financial professionals online.
Hence, Joe and Jill's advice: Take some technology classes ASAP.
"Even better, ask sons, daughters and grandchildren for help," Joe adds.
"They are usually more tech knowledgeable than some experts, and cost a lot less per hour!"
* * * * *
To arrange for Susan Klopfer to speak to your organization on retirement topics, contact her at
SUSAN KLOPFER,, author and speaker, writes on civil rights and diversity. Her newest books, Who Killed Emmett Till?" "Where Rebels Roost: Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited" and "The Emmett Till Book" are now in print and are carried in most online bookstores including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and in eBook versions on iBooks and Smashwords. "Where Rebels Roost" focuses on the Mississippi Delta, with stories about Emmett Till, Fannie Lou Hamer, Aaron Henry, Amzie Moore and many other civil rights foot soldiers. These books emphasize unsolved murders of Delta blacks from mid 1950s on. She is also the author of eBook, Cash In On Diversity. Klopfer is an award-winning journalist and former acquisitions and development editor for Prentice-Hall. Her computer book, "Abort, Retry, Fail!" was an alternate selection by the Book of-the-Month Club.