By: Revanche

What’s the right retirement age for you?

June 19, 2017

Listening to the West Wing the other day, Toby’s yelling about the need to consider options to save Social Security such as raising the minimum age penetrated my conscious brain. He pointed out that people are living decades longer than they used to, and Social Security was predicated on a life span that was considerably shorter.

As I understand it, you can start claiming benefits at 62 if you’re willing to accept a lower amount but for each year you wait until age 70, the amount increases 8%.

The archived Social Security site says:

If we look at life expectancy statistics from the 1930s we might come to the conclusion that the Social Security program was designed in such a way that people would work for many years paying in taxes, but would not live long enough to collect benefits. Life expectancy at birth in 1930 was indeed only 58 for men and 62 for women, and the retirement age was 65. But life expectancy at birth in the early decades of the 20th century was low due mainly to high infant mortality, and someone who died as a child would never have worked and paid into Social Security. A more appropriate measure is probably life expectancy after attainment of adulthood.

It goes on to point out that if we look at the life expectancy after reaching adulthood, then we are indeed living a few more years than we used to.

Obviously, we have many awesome FIRE bloggers who would dispute this retirement age as the appropriate one but they’re (we?) an unusual segment of the population right now.

In my family, we either live well into late 80s and 90s, or we die before 60. If you make it to 60, there’s a solid chance that you have another 20 or 30 years ahead.

Whether they’re good years depends on whether they worked physically demanding manual labor jobs (high likelihood), how good their basic health was, whether they had access to appropriate health care if it was needed. Last and maybe the most important: did they save enough to last them during their later years?

I’d say the latter is a complicated question because, until now, retirement plans in our family have been “move in with the kids and be their childcare in exchange for full support.”

There have been some exceptions.

My amazing grandmother worked her own farm well into her 80s. She had enough saved to last her until her death and still leave a healthy inheritance. One aunt did the usual childcare thing but then moved out when the grandkids were too much of a pain – that’s pretty much unheard of.

PiC and I are the first couple in my family that I know of to actively plan to not follow the usual game plan of have kids, work all our adult years, missing their childhoods, and then depend on them for support while raising their kids. That model simply doesn’t work when there isn’t a cohesive community all around you doing the same which equips them to provide support as needed. We’re hundreds of miles from our dearest friends and relatives, and that’s not likely to change any time soon.

JuggerBaby may be an only. We may want to grow the family more. We may try to foster and adopt if my health allows. There are so many possibilities and it hardly seems possible to plan for them all, but it must be possible.

We have been saving for retirement for years, I started when I was 21. I don’t have a FIRE date in mind but once the dust settles, I’ll decide what it is and our salaries together will work on reaching it.

I’d love to set it at age 40 but that’s just a pie in the sky number right now. We have to let the dust settle with the house, the renovations, the mortgage, and all that jazz before I dive headfirst into another massive plan.

:: When you plan to retire? Do you have grand plans for that time of your life or is that still hazy?


16 Responses to “What’s the right retirement age for you?”

  1. I have no idea what we’re going to do. We save and keep our options open.

    I do like this habit we’ve picked up of taking a year off our regular work to work someplace else for a year every 5-7 years. But I don’t know how sustainable that will be going forward.
    nicoleandmaggie recently posted…How do you manage your monthly spending?My Profile

    • Revanche says:

      We like options! And I love your semi-sabbaticals, they’re pretty cool. One of us has the option of taking a nice chunk of time off entirely every several years like that. I’d love to make that a 6 month sabbatical every 5 years if possible with aiming for early retirement.

  2. We plan on retiring in our early 50’s. Not so early but better than later. Slow travel is a top priority when we do. Best of luck figuring out your plans!

  3. bethh says:

    I’m in my mid-40s now and my house will be paid off in 11 years, so mid-to-late 50s. I would like to retire then, if not sooner, but I think health insurance will be the big wild card. Right now I’m assuming that if I pay off my house, I can plan to roll that monthly payment over into a health insurance premium – but it’s far to soon to know for sure! I try to make sure I enjoy life a lot NOW and expect to do more of the same when I do retire – book groups, volunteering, hiking, active travel, visiting with friends – without pesky work getting in the way.

    • Revanche says:

      Health insurance – too true! I really don’t like how uncertain that makes retirement for us since I can’t go without healthcare. And that’s actually an interesting way to think about covering the health insurance with your former mortgage payment.

  4. Interesting read!
    I actually didn’t plan on an actual age to retire. My boyfriend and I save as much as we can and do talk about the golden years but I admit, we don’t yet have a clear plan in mind.
    Adriana @MoneyJourney recently posted…How to live well below your meansMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      It’s been 12 years of money blogging and I’ve only just started envisioning the possible age of retirement so you’re not alone 🙂

  5. We are shooting for 40 too. Tough to say what the next ten years will hold but I think we can do it. Keep cutting expenses and investing more. Every little bit can add to a lot over 10 years.

  6. We won’t break any records, but we’ll be free to retire before we hit 60 – I’ll probably be 56. It did not look that way a few years ago, but we’ve changed our trajectory by paying off debt aggressively. I’ve got a pension plan that will see us through if we get rid of the burden of debt payments. Our plans are hazy, but they will include travel. My husband has visions of a Roadtrek. (But he also has visions of a motorcycle. We’ll see : )
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    • Revanche says:

      That might not be a record in the PF world but it’s a good number in the real world. My fingers are crossed that you kill off that debt, post-haste! And mmm, I don’t know about that motorcycle 😉

  7. Cassie says:

    I haven’t knocked out a proper retirement date yet. I would like to say 45. Right now I’m in full steam ahead mortgage obliteration mode – the goal is to have it over and done with by the time we need to renew it again in 3 years. That would put us completely debt free by 36. I’m sure my husband will like to replace his vehicle at that point, but if we’re completely debt free, including the mortgage, I don’t think it should be too unreasonable to reach financial independence 9 years from the mortgage pay off date, especially if we’re used to earmarking large sums of money towards the mortgage.

    As for what we’ll do? We’re talking about moving off grid. We’d like to buy a piece of property and build a fairly modern passive house that isn’t tied to any utility grids. That alone will take a couple years. After that, puttering as craft people and selling what we make is a likely option. We’ll see though.

    • Revanche says:

      Does your rate go up in 3 years? I was wondering about the part where you’d have to renew it.

      Puttering sounds like a pretty awesome pastime for a while.

      • Cassie says:

        We locked in our rate for 3 years. I’d assume that in that time the rates will probably go up, but that’s not the big deciding factor for us. We have mid term goals surrounding buying a piece of land, and that would be much easier with our existing mortgage mostly paid off. Loans for undeveloped land up here require a ~50% down payment, and the interest rates for land only mortgages suck. If we pay off the house mortgage, we can remortgage part of the house to buy the land and pay the more preferable housing interest rate. The plan is to build a modest home on the land, and then sell the current home to leave us debt free.

        Also, I believe you guys have the ability to lock in an interest rate for the full amortization of the mortgage, right? We can’t do that here. Most people lock their rate in for 5 years, and then renew it again for another 5 years. Wash, rinse, repeat.

        • Revanche says:

          Oh that’s really important information! We do have the ability to lock for the full life of the mortgage like 15 and 30 years. We can choose to go the other route with ARMs but that’s a choice.

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