By Craig Erwin, Ph.D.
When should we retire? Some save aggressively, planning to retire in their 30’s or 40’s. Some live from paycheck to paycheck, never saving a dime. The latter may work forever because they failed to plan. If you don’t plan, life makes plans for you.
Who wants to work forever? I used to think I wanted to, and I have heard others say the same. And even though most people retire, there is little agreement on the best age to retire. Currently, the median retirement age is 62, but many would prefer to retire at a younger age. Some retire earlier than planned because they lost a good job and can’t find another, or they have health problems. Some retire later because they have no choice.
Employers are skittish about hiring older workers for several reasons. First, since it is illegal to discriminate based on age, employers don’t want to run the risk of discrimination lawsuits brought by older workers. Ironically, failing to hire someone because of her age is illegal. Second, there is no mandatory retirement age, so workers may linger even though their value to their employers is waning. Third, some workers continue to work until around the age of 68 because they want to maximize Social Security benefits. Fourth, many workers may fail to take advantage of employers’ defined contribution plans, such as 401(k) plans, because they are not mandatory. They then find themselves unable to afford to retire.
It is wise to think carefully about the age at which you wish to retire. Failing to plan can lead to devastating consequences. There is nothing more frightening than expecting to live another 30 years and having no idea how to pay for it.
When do you plan to retire? Will you be financially secure? Do you need to change the amount you are saving for retirement?
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