Milestones in your future

Baby Boomer's Financial Timeline

by Debra Karplus

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The large number of people born between 1946 and in 1964, the post-World War II population explosion, is called baby boomers. While the oldest of the baby boomers have reached 70 years of age, the youngest are just a few years into their 50s. There are several notable age milestones for baby boomers in their 50s and 60s to be aware of and plan for.

When you were growing up, turning 13 transformed you into a teenager. At 16 years old, you were old enough to drive. The next major milestone for you was being able to vote and enlist in the military. But today's baby boomers have their own set of exciting rites of passage to look forward to and to embrace that make life even better than it already is.

Reaping the benefits of aging begins at age 50.

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), a huge organization and lobby group for older Americans, will welcome you into their membership by the time you turn 50. For only a $16 annual membership, which is cheaper per year if you join for three or five years at a time, there are numerous benefits to members that will quickly make the membership worth your while. Members can enjoy discounts on travel, entertainment, health, financial, and much more. There's no obvious reason not to join AARP once you turn 50.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) is located in many college towns and other communities. These college-type classes, study groups, lectures, group travel and more are for people over 50, but there are no grades, required attendance, dorms, or hangovers, just learning for the sake of learning. OLLI memberships typically offer an array of useful benefits.

calculator iconCalculator: How much income will my retirement savings provide?

59 1/2 is no longer just a mirage for baby boomers.

When you started saving for retirement with an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or a Roth IRA, the age 59 1/2 seemed light years away. Then one day you woke up and realized that it was your half birthday, that magical age between 59 and 60 years old. Most adults don'rt give much thought to half birthdays, but this one is quite significant. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has specific guidelines regarding how and when you can withdraw money from your IRA. The Roth IRA tends to be much more liberal pertaining to withdrawals. Presumably your financial broker or places where you have investments, such as Fidelity Investments, can help you make financial decisions about making withdrawals.

Have you started preparing for retirement?
Our pre-retirement checklist will walk you through the steps you need to take.

Social security eligibility begins at age 62.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) allows you to apply for social security benefits a few months before you turn 62. Their website walks you through all the ways you can complete the application process, including online, by phone, or in person. Many financial professionals will advise and encourage you to wait as long as possible to begin collecting Social Security benefits, but this decision should be based on your current health and expected longevity, your financial situation, and other pensions and ways you may have provided for your golden years. Request a few opinions from knowledgeable experts before applying for benefits. It may be to your advantage to wait and overall receive significantly larger monthly payments from the SSA.

Amtrak considers you to be a senior at age 62 also. Expect a 15% discount on your travel. This may be the time to take that cross country train trip you had always fantasized about. Check to learn more about what Amtrak has to offer to their senior passengers.

Will you leave
thousands of dollars on the table
by taking Social Security
at the wrong time? Find out.

The sky is the limit at 65.

Most airlines offer enticing discounts to seniors, people over 65 years old. It varies from airline to airline. Next time you are booking a flight online, click on the senior rate to see what kind of discount you might look forward to when you turn 65.

Discounts for seniors exist in some other places that you might not expect. Movie theaters typically offer senior discounts that often are even lower than matinee admission. The people working at these ticket counters often do not know what age is considered "senior." If you are over 30, you probably look old to them! Your auto repair shop may have lower prices for their senior customers. Your appliance repairman or handyman may offer senior discounts, too. It always pays to ask.

Updated June 2017

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at

Take the Next Step:

  • Get prepared for your next stage of life. Here are the financial decisions you should make in your 50s.
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  • Determine if debt could derail your retirement and what you can do about it now. Our checklist can help you. Afterall, one of the most important ingredients for a comfortable retirement is to be debt free when you retire.
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