I’m somewhat skeptical of the whole concept of “retirement.” I’ve seen far too many cases of people building up retirement as the “ultimate destination,” only to find themselves feeling lost, socially isolated and financially stretched when they finally get there.
Instead, I’ve recommended that people see retirement as an opportunity to explore their passions, while continuing to work, at least part-time.
At the same time, while “semi-retirement” may be the best option for the majority of baby boomers, this doesn’t mean that we are off the hook for saving as much as possible. Nor does it mean that we can afford to see our 60s as “too late” to make a meaningful difference in our portfolios.
In fact, there are several reasons to believe that, when it comes to saving for retirement, 60 really is the new 50. Here’s why…
In 1935, when Social Security was established a 65 year old woman could expect to live about 12.5 more years. Now, this number is above 20. In other words, while our concept of “retirement age” has stayed the same, our life expectancy at age 65 has almost doubled.
Talking with other women in the Sixty and Me community, there is a tendency to run out of emotional steam when it comes to saving in our 60s. The closer we get to retirement age, the greater the temptation to stop saving and start enjoying the fruits of our labor.
This is an extremely dangerous mindset. Even if you plan for working as long as you can, you should be accelerating your savings rate as much as possible in your 60s. Here are a few things to think about.
First and foremost, don’t slow your saving rate. This means taking advantage of your 401K and any government programs that you are eligible for. For example, if you can afford it, you may want to consider using the “catch up” program that is available to people over 50 to put even more in your 401K. This CNN article has a good summary of the program and how to take advantage of it. Employer contributions to your 401K are your best friend!
Second, as tempting as it might be to start using any extra cash that you have to take a cruise or redecorate your home, now it the time to get control of your expenses. The last thing you want is to experience a significant drop in the quality of your life when you leave the workforce or reduce your working hours.
Finally, don’t forget to take care of your debts – especially any high interest credit card debts. When you are at the top of your career game, it’s easy to see your monthly minimums as a normal part of life. When you reach retirement and are trying to survive on a pension and your savings, everything changes. Taking care of your debts now will give you more flexibility when you finally leave the workforce.
All this comes down to a simple observation. Our 60s are a critical time when it comes to saving for retirement. Far from being an excuse to slow down, our 60s offer us an opportunity to take control of our financial future.
Even if you don’t plan on retiring, as many of us don’t, it still pays to do everything you can to make your 70s and beyond as comfortable as possible. As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Yes, it certainly is!
Have you already reached retirement age? What, if anything, do you wish you had done differently in the decade leading up to retirement? Are you approaching retirement? What steps are you taking now to ensure that your retirement is as comfortable as possible? Please join the conversation and “like” and share this article to keep the conversation going.
Disclaimer: None of the information in this article is intended to be financial advice. Please consult your tax professional or accountant as you build out your retirement savings plan.
Tags Retirement Planning