Ten Seconds at a Time

Americans are deluded about when they will retire


There’s a big gap between when workers expect they will retire and when people who’ve actually retired say they left the workforce, according to the latest retirement confidence survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Half of retirees say they retire earlier than they planned. Fewer than one in 10 workers say they expect to retire before age 60, when in fact 36% of retirees say they stopped working before 60. Comparatively, only 29% of workers retired between the ages of 60 and 64 and only 9% retired at the traditional age of 65. The odds of making it until age 70 and still working — which more than one-quarter of workers say they want to do — are even slimmer. A mere 6% manage to last that long. “Most retirees retired earlier than they planned predominantly due to health problems,” says Luke Vandermillen, vice president of the Principal Financial Group, a co-sponsor of the study. “All you can do is try to control what you have planned, how you have saved, and whether you’ve taken steps to prepare for retirement as best you can.” What’s clear is that the vast majority of premature retirees did not leave work because they wanted to. Sixty percent of premature retirees cited health issues or a disability as the reason. Others had little choice in the matter — their company downsized or closed, leaving them out of a job (27%), or they needed to care for a spouse or family member (22%).
Comment: In the elevator today ... chatting briefly with a woman whom I see from time to time. Me: "When are you going to retire?" She: "Three years". Me: "Sometimes I don't think I can take it anymore". She: Laughs, "My financial advisor says I need to work until I am 62". Me thinking ... 49 more weeks .... to quote Kimmy: "Just take it 10 seconds at a time and everything will be okay". Some Kimmy Schmidt motivational posters.

More: Work in Retirement? Don’t Bet on It

“People consistently overestimate their ability to work in retirement,” says Mr. Vandermillen. Among the things that can cause people to leave the workforce earlier than they expect are health crises, layoffs and ageism on the part of prospective employers.

... Jim Emerman, executive vice president at encore.org, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that promotes second careers in the nonprofit sector, says he isn’t surprised by the large gap between those who want to work in retirement and those who actually do so. Due to ageism, he says, “those who expect to find paid work in retirement often can’t.” Over time, Mr. Emerman says, he “expects we will see the gap narrow” as employers come to realize that older, experienced workers can help solve projected skills gaps and labor shortages. “If we want a healthier, more productive, more engaged society, employers need to make opportunities available to older people and meet them halfway,” by providing flexible arrangements, he says. “These opportunities aren’t there yet but we will see more of them as we see a rethinking of the roles older people can play.” According to the EBRI survey, 83% of today’s retirees who are working say they are doing so because they enjoy it. Almost 80% say their motivation is to stay active and involved. But 54% say they enjoy earning money to pay for extras. And 52% say they need their paychecks to make ends meet.

Comment: Why I'm still working ... I enjoy investing and the the income enables that. Also I enjoy my friends at work.

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