When Can You (Really) Expect to Retire?

I have this little daydream, especially on stressful days of running around to get the kids off to school, before rushing out to work. It’s a dream of the future, my friends. I imagine myself and my husband, sitting on a long, covered porch, sipping on wine. We are older, retired from work, and simply enjoying each other’s company. We are smiling as we go over the details of the hot air balloon trip we just took in the wine country. We laugh and laugh, but in a regal, sophisticated way. Oh, and we have classy streaks of silver in our hair. Good times.

Then I’m brought back to reality – usually when I think of paying for the aforementioned kids to go to college – and I realize I have some planning to do if I ever hope to leisurely enjoy my golden years.

So, what is a realistic age for retirement? The experts over at CNNMoney recently tried to provide some answers to this big, important question.

Essentially, when you’ll be able to retire all depends on three factors: how well you’ve been saving, the lifestyle you want upon retiring, and the age you want to stop working. 

Current Trends
According to a recent Wells Fargo survey, 12% of affluent Americans say they’ll be working until around the age of 80 to maintain their lifestyle. Yikes! This is markedly different from a survey taken by SunAmerica Financial Group just a year prior, who found that workers planned to retire, on average, at the age of 69. Even still, that number is up five years from a decade ago, and shows a growing need for pre-retirees to re-examine their savings and retirement plans.

I haven’t been saving as much as I should’ve. Am I too late?
There’s no doubt that many people have had a hard time putting aside extra money for retirement these days, but does that mean that you are too late to start now? Not at all. You have options here, and a lot of that depends on how much money you expect you’ll need once you’re no longer working. If you’re planning to travel the world in a luxurious yacht, for instance, you may need to square away a few more bucks than someone who wants nothing more than to stay around the house and garden.

Work it out.
You can always add a few more years of work onto your plan. Not only will this allow you to throw more money into your retirement account, but research has shown that as long as you’re not working at a job you detest, there are many health benefits – both physical and psychological – to keeping on the job a while longer. However, you don’t want to throw all of your eggs in one basket. Many times, our plans to work until a certain age don’t pan out. Unforeseen circumstances such as poor health, caring for a sick loved one or even being forced out of the job can pull your retirement ahead of schedule. With this in mind, you have to have viable alternatives in place for your financial future.

Create a retirement strategy.
According to the expert over at CNNMoney, your best course of action is to plan ahead. Sit down with yourself, and say, “Self, at what age do I want to retire?” Once you come up with a reasonable age, somewhere around 66 or 67 to collect Social Security benefits, you can check back with yourself every so often and see how your plan is coming along. Everything peachy keen? Great! Finding your plan is falling short? Time to maximize those contributions.

With a little preparation and foresight, your dream of enjoying your hard-earned retirement years without financial stress can become a reality. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to learn how to build a covered porch.

Have more tips on retirement planning at any age? Let me know!

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