Boomers redefining retirement

April 1, 2006
Boomers, those people born between 1946 and 1964, have reshaped and outguessed us in every phase of their lives.

Boomers, those people born between 1946 and 1964, have reshaped and outguessed us in every phase of their lives. The early ones are just reaching age 60 and retirement in dentistry has never looked like this. Dr. Barry Turner, a “pre-boomer,” is a great example. He continues to practice because he loves his practice family, applying all the continuing education and the continued income stream. In our book, Playing Your “A” Game, Barry sees dentistry as a means to live the kind of life of which he has always dreamed. His goal is to keep on keeping on.

There are several important emotional and financial reasons to continue practicing dentistry. Dr. Turner exemplifies these. One important factor is the boomer generation is healthier than ever - at age 65, Barry still runs marathons (he has completed one for every year of his life), sails, and climbs mountains. Because of good health, the boomer generation will live longer. How much money will you need for retirement? That’s an excellent question; our longevity is an unknown factor.

Another important reason to continue practicing is to maintain an identity as a member of the health-care profession. Barry has served on several dental organizations and boards in California, enjoying the professional exchange and the promise of making a difference. We often do not realize how much we are identified with our profession. What emotional preparation have you made for ending your career?

Another passion of Dr. Turner’s is volunteer dentistry and establishing new sites for continued care. Working with Rotary and Northwest Medical Teams, he and a hearty dental group have established three dental clinics in Nepal schools with the help of A-dec. This emotional satisfaction and feeling of being needed is an important part of boomer “retirement.” As Barry says, “The wealth that is not sitting in my retirement portfolio is resting nicely within my head from the experiences I have had with this newfound passion.”

Previous generations have shown us the continual craving to feel needed and that they are making a difference. When you lose that drive and identification, you can become a lost soul. Read again Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.

Obviously, another important reason to reinvent retirement is the money. By continuing to work - even 100 days a year (down from an average of 210) - in your own long-established practice, you can produce a net of $100,000 to $200,000 a year. You may not even have to touch your retirement principal. Most dentists have enjoyed a good life and retirement planning was not even their number one priority. A continued net of $150,000 a year for eight to 10 years, still taking every other week off, causes the money worries to disappear. Find a team who wants what you want. Eliminate those procedures in which you no longer find joy.

Boomers in general have more money than previous generations, partly due to inheriting land or goods from more frugal parents. Consequently, boomers are realizing they will have a full lifetime of paying maximum taxes. Many boomers will always be in the highest tax bracket. Consequently, they are questioning the old plan of tax-deferred investments or retirement planning. If you take out money now and pay the tax, you will pay ordinary income on the salary but a much lower capital gains rate on the growth of the investment. In a tax-deferred plan, you will pay the higher ordinary income rate on the growth when you withdraw it during your retirement years. Taxes will not go down. Boomers are rethinking their strategy of accumulation.

There will always be unknowns in retirement. But by keeping current and continuing to practice in your fashion, the income stream can continue. Rethink your accumulation strategy regarding tax-deferred income vs. paying the tax now and investing with after-tax dollars. What is success to you? It is being reinvented.

Dr. Turner has had a shift in thinking about success. Instead of material possessions, success for him is creating a balance of spiritual awareness, good health, good family ties, good friendships, a profitable practice, happy patients, happy staff, and making a difference in local and world communities.

Dr. Bill Blatchford’s Custom Coaching Program is now available anytime, anywhere. Utilizing 18 years of practice-management experience with more than 1,100 offices, he focuses on leadership, systems, case-presentation skills, communication, and profitability. The program involves maximum personal time with the coach and interaction with other doctors. He has a new book available, “Playing Your ‘A’ Game - Inspirational Coaching to Profitability.” Contact him at (800) 578-9155 or visit his Web site at

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