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Are You Making This Dangerous Retirement Planning Mistake?

April 07, 2016 at 12:00 AM

I am concerned that many of you are banking on a retirement strategy that may not work out. According to a national survey, more than four in 10 Americans say they plan to keep working past the age of 65.

For many of today’s workers, the motivation to delay retirement is financial: A concern they lack the savings to cover all their retirement costs, including health care expenses.

It’s a logical plan to address a major concern, but I need you to listen to me: thinking you can just keep working may be unrealistic. In the same survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, just 15% of retirees said they kept working past age 65. That’s a serious gap between expectations (>40% plan to keep working past 65) and real life (only 15% retired after age 65.)

A big portion of people who retired earlier than they expected were sidelined by illness or disability. Taking care of a family member can also derail plans, as can being downsized or pushed out of a job.

If your retirement plan is centered around the assumption you will just keep working longer, please consider these important steps:

  • Keep Saving. If you are not saving for retirement, or aren’t pushing yourself to save even more, you are putting your future security at risk. The best way to navigate the unknown is to hope for the best and plan for the worst. In this case, not being able to keep working longer is a “worst” case scenario. Plan for that by committing to save as much as possible today in your retirement accounts.
     
  • Keep Sharp. I know you’ve heard plenty about keeping your work skills up to date, but you still haven’t done much. If there’s no on-the-job training available, check for online courses; there are plenty of terrific web-based classes you can take. Or look into whether your local community college has useful courses in your field.
     
  • Keep Fit. The healthier you are, the less susceptible you may be to certain illnesses. There’s also the mind-body connection; I am a believer that when you feel physically strong it spills over into a frame of mind that can make you ever more valuable at work. Besides, I want you to be in the best shape possible for when you do retire, so you can enjoy yourself!
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