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  • Bob Brooks

The Wrong Assumption that Americans are Making about Retirement

You sit down to plan for retirement. You pick an age to retire. Say it is age 66. You know how much you need to save and earn between now and then. You even have a long-term care in force. You feel that you have covered all of the bases. Yet, you are missing one thing. You are assuming that you will be working up until the day you retire. Statistics would say that might not happen.

U.S. New and World Report had this to say in this article:

"Working Americans expect to retire at age 66, up from 63 in 2002, according to a 2018 Gallup poll. But most retirees don't stay on the job nearly that long.

A plan to work longer isn't the same as being able to remain on the job into your mid- or late 60s. The average retirement age has been 61 since 2011, Gallup found. Before that, the average retirement age in the U.S. hovered around 60 from 2004 to 2010.

"The lower actual age could be based on positive developments -- that people end up having more money and more wherewithal to retire than they expected, or negative developments -- that people are laid off, lose their jobs or have worse health than anticipated," says Frank Newport, a Gallup senior scientist and former editor-in-chief of Gallup poll."

Well, unfortunately, statistics would show that people are not overly prepared and retiring early. The stats show that people need all of that time in their 60's to save and earn so that they can retire. So, what can you do to prepare for Plan B if save and earn to age 66 doesn't happen?

Plan to be out of debt by age 60

If you had to make a change, at least you could live on less given you have paid off your house and other debts. In the least, have your house paid off to where you could always sell it and use the equity to pay cash for something smaller. 

Shoot for having the kids off of the payroll by age 60

In my experience, this has hurt many retirement plans as the parents continue to take care of their adult children well into retirement. Help your children out if they need help. Just make sure that they know there is an end date.

Prepare to take a job earning less than you were is ok

Fortunately, you are at that stage in your life where you can live on less. If you get downsized and lose your job, find another job that earns you just enough to bridge the gap. This isn't about replacing your income.

Have a game plan for health insurance figured out

If you are at medicare age, your problem is solved. Along the way to retirement, keep up with the options for insurance in the event that you are forced to make alternative plans.

Take care of your health – it is a retirement asset

This is an extra incentive to eat right and take care of your health along the way.  At least this reduces the risk of a health related issue cutting your earning years short.

The good news is that statistics would show that this on average happens around age 60 while you are on the final stretch. It is important to stay focused on your goals, adapt and be flexible, and  keep in mind the whole goal is just to bridge the gap.

Since April is financial literacy month, Bob is offering no-cost retirement planning sessions through the Prudent Money Foundation for this month. One of the biggest reasons for financial stress is not knowing your unknowns.  These sessions can be done over the phone, online, or in person. Take advantage of this opportunity today. Appointment times are first come first serve. For more information, send us an email to You can also give us a call. Our number is 972-386-0384.

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