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The New Retirement Calculus


The catch phrase "golden years" may soon be retired: For many, retirement will be more a state of mind than a stage of the life cycle.

Retirement & You - A CNBC Special Report
Retirement & You - A CNBC Special Report

Simply put, this is not your parents' retirement — or your grandparents' for that matter. Chances are you'll be working long past age 65, if you can find a job. And you'll probably be worried about having enough money to finally stop working.

Senior citizens, retired or not, are reshaping the American population; by 2020, the number of people age 65 and older will equal that of children in kindergarten through 12th grade.

The graying of the baby boom generationhappens to coincide with a steady and marked extension of life-expectancy rates, and what some see as fundamental changes in the labor force.

So the golden years, if they survive, may not be pure gold — more like gold on the outside, with silver, copper and nickel on the inside.

Interestingly, the root of the phrase golden years is unclear. (Sorry, there's no link to Shakespeare or another literary genius.) There's a suspicion, however, that the golden years actually stems from a Merrill Lynch commercial from the 1950s, referring to the years surrounding the 50th — or golden — wedding anniversary.

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Talk about ahead of the curve. Retirement planning is big business these days. It's even expected to be a source of job growth, as companies court boomers and their 401(k) balances.

No surprise, then, that our special report, "Retirement & You," isn't about travel and leisure. It's about planning,affording, and protectingyour retirement, from dealing with debt to balancing your investment portfolio to finding a part-time job.