It is, by any measure, a fantastic sum: $21.7 trillion. No, that's not the latest GDP figure. That's how much money Americans now have set aside for their retirements, according to the Investment Company Institute. As the baby boom begins its long march out of the workforce (1 in 5 boomers, in fact, has already retired), Americans collectively are sitting on a jaw-dropping nest egg, dispersed in IRA accounts, employer-based 401(k) plans and pensions. The only problem: It's not nearly enough.
For boomers at retirement, it's both the best and worst of times. The good news is that so many are still here: In 1900, the average life span was 47; a 65-year-old today can expect to live nearly two more decades. "It's the dream of history," says the psychologist and gerontologist Ken Dychtwald, whose research firm Age Wave dissects the massive "maturing market" of aging boomers. "For thousands of years we searched for fountains of youth."