PhotoThe financial crisis, which deepened an existing recession, was a major blow to the U.S. economy.

Since then, the nation has been on a slow path toward recovery. Today, many consumers are feeling a lot better than they did a few years ago. Baby Boomers, however, are among the least likely to feel that way.

A study commissioned by the Bankers Life Center for a Secure Retirement found only 2% of middle income Boomers think the economy has fully recovered. Sixty-five percent don't think they have benefited at all from the recovery.

And while nearly all the Boomers in the survey said they expect to retire one day, the study found a near universal adjustment to just what form retirement will take.

Savings and earnings have fallen

Here are a couple of reasons why: among the group saying it has not benefited from the recovery, more than half say their money in savings is less than before the crisis. Four out of ten say they are earning less money than they did a decade ago.

Back then, 45% of middle income Boomers said they expected to have no debt in retirement, living in a home with no mortgage. Today, only 34% have that expectation.

Boomers contemplating retirement are also planning to be more dependent on Social Security income. Ten years ago, 40% of Boomers said they expected their retirement savings would be their primary income source. Today, it's 34%.

It's no surprise, then, that many Boomers appear to be reconsidering plans to stop working. The study shows nearly half of Boomers -- 48% -- plan to expect to hold down a full or part-time job after they reach retirement age. Before the financial crisis, it was just 35%.

"Ten years ago, Baby Boomers had a clear vision of what a personally satisfying retirement looked like," said Scott Goldberg, president of Bankers Life. "But today, many are realizing they will not be as financially independent in retirement as they once expected."

What to do

If you are in your 50s or 60s, you don't have the luxury of a lot of time to build wealth for your golden years. But there are steps you can take now to become better prepared. They involve cutting expenses and increasing savings.

First, AARP suggests defining what you want retirement to be. And be specific. If you want to travel, for example, think about what kind of travel. And it should go without saying, you need to be practical.

Next, add up your assets, both financial and personal. If you have developed a skill over the years related to a favorite hobby, maybe that can be a source of income after you quit your day job.

Decide when you want to start collecting Social Security. The monthly payments will be a lot larger if you can put it off until age 70.

Analyze your budget, looking for ways to trim spending. Just a little each month can add up to growing savings.


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