Everyone thinks they can retire at age 65. It’s an American ideal born in the last century with the rise of unions, the defined benefit plan, and generous pension systems. In reality, especially due to advances in health, medicine, and nutrition, many people have great capability to continue to work and contribute to society and themselves until 80. And they should — because they need to.
There is a crisis of affordability looming. Besides the enormously wealthy, for the most part no average person can afford to retire at 65. It is simply not possible, living a normal lifestyle, for anyone to put enough toward retirement that will enable him to live another 20-30 years. A life span of 85-95 is swiftly becoming the new norm. The only workers today who are the exception to this reality, and have any hope of a lengthy retirement with comfort, are public service employees.
Taxpayers have been long bamboozled into making generous commitments to the retirement systems of public service workers. All over the country, in all levels of federal and state governments, these defined benefit plan pension funds have proven to be vastly untenable. Yet to sustain the plans in their current arrangements and cover the obligations that have already been promised, the rest of society will be duty-bound/compelled to contribute to the retirement of those public service workers via higher taxes. This is turn makes the rest of the populace poorer — because their hard-earned money is being levied to the promised public pensioner, and not for able to be saved for themselves.
The grand scheme is becoming unhinged. One must realize that the more people continue to buy into the idea that they are supposed to “retire at 65”, the more they are suckered into continuing make their retirement years poorer. People see a public service worker being able to retire at that age and they think “I should be able to also do so”. This idea needs to change. I hear story after story of my clients who are struggling in retirement. Aim to maximize your yearly retirement contributions, but also aim to continue to work in some fashion and save as your ability allows. Doing nothing and sitting around in retirement after the age of 65 will cause future hardship for most taxpayers because they will soon find out they are inadequately funded to do so.
Because of living longer, as well as the current low rates of investment return, taxpayers must begin to realize that the timespan between 65 – 80 can be, and should be, a healthy and productive time of life. Working, staying active, and continuing to save will be beneficial in the long run. The mindset of older citizens needs to become that they should aim to be productive until they are 80. At 65 they can certainly slow down, but the concept of retiring and not working anymore at that age is unrealistic and unaffordable.