Eighty is the new 65, at least when it comes to retirement. More than a third of middle class Americans surveyed by Wells Fargo said they’d need to work until age 80 or beyond before they could retire comfortably. For young workers, retirement after 70 may be the norm. The average member of the class of 2015 will need to work until age 75, an analysis by financial website Nerdwallet found. Some may end up working until they hit their eighth decade, which could give them just a handful of years in retirement. (The average 23-year-old today can expect to live into their early to mid-80s.)
Many Americans have come to accept the inevitability of a late retirement. Since 1991, the number of people who expect to retire at or before age 65 has fallen from 84% to 46%, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). Twenty-five years ago, 9% of people expected to work past age 70. Today, 26% do.
Anticipating a retirement date in your 70s or 80s isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you love your job. But for many, delayed retirement won’t be a matter of choice. Millennials will have to stay in the workforce longer because high student debt, rising rents, and a hesitancy to invest will make it difficult for them to save enough money to quit their jobs, according to NerdWallet. Many other workers find themselves reaching 60 or 65 with paltry nest eggs and big expenses, like mortgage payments or college for the kids, still hanging over their heads. Those financial pressures leave many no choice but to stick it out at the office for a few more years until they feel retirement is within reach.
Who’s to blame for our ever-increasing retirement age? A number of factors are at play. Pensions have largely disappeared, leaving workers to figure out how to fund their retirements on their own. Many people don’t have access to retirement plans at work, which makes it harder to save.
Human error is also contributing to rising retirement ages. From not saving enough to raiding retirement accounts too soon, it’s easy to make mistakes that may force you to put off retirement until your 80s. Here are three of the biggest.
1. You start saving too late
Procrastination is the enemy of success. If you wait until your 40s or 50s to start saving for retirement, you’re going to find it much more difficult to save enough money to maintain your current standard of living after you quit working.
2. You borrow from your retirement account
Twenty percent of Americans admit to raiding their retirement account early, a 2014 Gallup poll found. Sixteen percent took out a 401(k) loan, and 9% made an early withdrawal. Doing either does huge damage to your retirement savings, as the chart below shows.
3. You don’t save enough
Saving something for retirement is better than saving nothing in retirement. If you’re young and feeling other financial pressures, you may start out by saving just 2% or 3% of your salary. That’s a good start, but it’s a far cry from the 10% to 15% financial planners recommend setting aside, even if your employer matches your contributions. Gradually increasing your savings amount can make it more likely you’ll retire at 65 rather than 80.
How much of a difference does aggressive saving really make? A 25-year-old man making $40,000 a year who saves 3% of his salary annually has a 58% chance of not running out of money in retirement, according to EBRI research. If he increases his savings rate to 6.4%, he has a 75% chance of not going broke in retirement. And if he sets aside 14% of his salary, as many financial experts would suggest, he has a 90% chance of meeting his financial needs in retirement.