Most people work hard their entire lives so they can comfortably retire one day. But the actual age when people retire varies widely. Some people are able to retire relatively early — even in their 40s sometimes — while others work well into their 70s and even 80s.
What is the average age of retirement in the United States? Right now, the average age for men to retire is 65 while the average age for women to retire is 63.1
While many people say they will work for as long as they can, others retire earlier than expected. However, retiring even a few years earlier than you’d anticipated can be costly.
Factors to determine your retirement age
There is a wide range of different factors that determine your ideal retirement age. Perhaps the biggest factor is how much money you have saved up for retirement to meet your retirement living expenses. The more money you have saved, the earlier you might be able to retire.
Your desired lifestyle in retirement is another factor to consider. If you plan to live modestly in retirement and keep your expenses down, you might be able to retire sooner than if you plan to travel extensively, drive exotic cars and indulge in expensive hobbies.
Also, where you plan to live is yet another factor that will determine your retirement age. If you want to live in a high-cost city like New York or San Francisco, you may not be able to retire as early as if you wanted to live in a low-cost rural area. So you might need to decide which is more important: Retiring earlier or living where you really want to live.
When are you eligible for social security and Medicare?
The minimum age to collect Social Security retirement benefits is currently 62. However, if you wait until you reach full retirement age — or even better, until you turn 70 — you’ll receive more money each month. For example, your monthly benefit will be permanently reduced by 25-30 percent if you start claiming Social Security at age 62 compared to waiting until full retirement age. Benefits rise by 5-8 percent for each year you delay receiving them.2
Your full retirement age depends on when you were born. If you were born before 1960, your full retirement age is 66, while if you were born in 1960 or later, your full retirement age is 67. No additional income is derived by waiting until after age 70 to start claiming Social Security benefits.2
Meanwhile, you are eligible to begin receiving Medicare when you turn 65. You have two main Medicare coverage options: Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage. Original Medicare includes three different parts: Part A, Part B and Part D, which is Medicare’s prescription drug plan.
Investing for retirement
Investing for retirement requires a long-term perspective — up to 40 or even 50 years.
This makes it helpful to break retirement investing down to some age benchmarks, such as the following.
Investing for retirement in your 20s and 30s
This is the life stage when investing for retirement might seem less important, since it’s so far away. But it’s also the stage when you potentially have the most to gain by starting to invest for retirement. Due to the effects of compounding, you will probably have decades during which time your investments can potentially grow.
Investing for retirement in your 30s and 40s
During this life stage, many people take on more financial responsibility, like raising a family and buying a home, which can make it harder to invest money for retirement. The key is to make retirement a priority by investing a percentage of pay in a retirement account each pay period. Ten percent of gross pay is a common goal at this stage.
Investing for retirement in your 40s and 50s
This represents the peak earning years for many people, which might enable you to invest more money for retirement than at any other stage of your life. Your financial responsibilities might also diminish if your children have moved out of the house and graduated college. If possible, it might be smart to increase the percentage of pay you’re investing for retirement.
Investing for retirement in your 50s and 60s
Here, you’re starting to approach the finish line and get closer to the day when you will retire. To finish strong, consider investing as much money as you can for retirement during this stage. You might also consider shifting your asset allocation away from riskier assets like stocks toward less-risky assets like bonds and cash alternatives.
Read More: What are catch-up contributions?
Get on track with your retirement savings
Following are five suggestions for supporting your retirement savings.
1. Know where your retirement savings stand
The free Empower Retirement Planner will help you know where you stand relative to your retirement goals. Using your actual financial data from the accounts you’ve linked to the Empower Financial Dashboard, you’ll see how prepared you are for retirement based on your ideal target retirement date.
Additionally, you can forecast your retirement spending. The meter for your Retirement Spending Ability compares your desired Retirement Spending Goal to projected spending. This will help you determine an estimate of the monthly spending amount that can be sustained.
2. Continue networking
Staying in touch with people in your professional network is a good career move at any age, and it’s also a way to ensure you’re on track to keep working as long as you want or need to.
Start purposely nurturing a network of people who might have employment for you later. Keep in touch via LinkedIn or on other forms of social media. And keep your resume or portfolio up to date. You never know when a new opportunity might show itself since there’s no guarantee that your employer will keep you working until retirement.
3. Keep your pay flexible
As you get older you should keep your pay flexible. While this can be hard to adjust to, just know that as long as you’re working you can be saving for retirement. Be prepared financially and try living on a portion of your salary before you retire. This will give you the benefit to practice for your retirement job, and free up more money to put into savings now.
4. Diversify your savings
As you approach retirement, especially if you are among the lucky individuals able to retire before the average retiree, it’s important to consider diversifying your savings. We focus on filling up our 401k bucket, but don’t neglect savings that are taxable and Roth (when possible). Having money in different account types (pre-tax, taxable, post-tax) can help if you are retired before age 59.5 It will also offer flexibility and possible tax savings if you can be strategic about the account types you withdraw from in retirement.
5. Talk to a financial professional
Who should you talk with about retirement? Our financial professionals provide a holistic perspective on your retirement plan. You both have access to the same planning tools, such as the Retirement Planner. This way, you can have an informed conversation and get the honest, transparent guidance you need to help you reach your retirement goals.
What is considered an early retirement age?
Early retirement is commonly considered any age before 65. That’s when you qualify for Medicare benefits.
Can I retire early?
Retiring early is a personal decision best discussed with a financial professional. The earliest you can start receiving Social Security retirement benefits is age 62, but your benefits are reduced if you begin receiving them before age 65.
How much should I have saved for retirement?
Your savings level is based on several factors, including your retirement horizon, your investment strategy and risk tolerance, and your anticipated retirement spending. See how you compare to the average 401k balance by age.
How much money will I need to retire?
How much money you need depends on how much you plan to spend annually in retirement and how many years you’ll be retired. You can use a retirement calculator to help you better understand how much money you need.