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Too Many Workers Share This Dangerous Retirement Misconception

By Katie Brockman – Apr 28, 2020 at 9:03AM

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This mistake could potentially throw off your entire retirement plan.

Saving for retirement isn't easy, and it requires decades of careful planning and preparation. Even one blunder could potentially result in not saving enough, so it's crucial to put as much thought into your retirement plans as possible.

Of course, you can't always prepare for everything. Especially amid the coronavirus pandemic, factors such as a stock market crash or a recession could significantly affect your retirement plans. However, there's one common retirement misconception that could potentially wreck your senior years.

An older couple sitting at their kitchen table, thinking

Image source: Getty Images.

How long will you continue to work?

Choosing a retirement age is a critical part of planning for the future, because when you retire will affect how much time you have to save as well as how long your money has to last in retirement. But another important factor to consider is when -- or if -- you'll quit working.

Approximately 65% of workers believe they'll continue working part-time in retirement, according to a recent survey from Allianz Life. That in itself might not be a bad thing, because if you plan to work at least part-time in retirement, there's a better chance your savings will last longer. The problem, though, is that only 7% of retirees actually do continue working, according to the survey. That misalignment can be dangerous, because it could lead you to not save as much as you should.

There are a few reasons retirees may not be working as much as they planned. For one, approximately half of Americans ended up retiring earlier than they anticipated, the survey found, most often due to reasons beyond their control such as health issues or unexpected job loss.

In addition, sometimes the older you get, the less likely you are to want to continue working. When asked whether they would prefer to retire at age 55 and live frugally or retire at 75 and live extravagantly, 48% of workers who are at least 10 years from retirement said they would rather wait until age 75 to retire, according to the survey. However, only 33% of those less than 10 years from retirement wanted to work to age 75, and just 23% of those who are already retired said they wanted to continue working to age 75.

So, while working in retirement may sound like a good plan now, there's a chance you may change your mind as you get older.

Planning for an unpredictable retirement

It can be especially tough to prepare for retirement when you can't plan for every single factor. You never know if health issues will crop up or if you'll lose your job and be unable to find another one. In some cases, you may be forced to retire early even if you're not ready. Or you may think that you'll want to work the rest of your life, but once you reach your senior years, you decide you'd much rather spend more time relaxing.

You can't predict the future, but you can play it safe and save more than you think you need. Even if you want to work until your 70s or beyond, it's a good idea to save as though you're going to retire earlier. That way, if you're forced to retire before that, or simply decide you don't want to work anymore, you'll have enough savings to survive. If you don't save as much now because you think you're going to work forever, your senior years might be challenging if you develop health issues and are forced to retire early or are miserable at your job but can't afford to quit working.

Of course, saving more is often easier said than done. However, if you boost your savings as soon as possible, that will give them the most time to grow. If you're able to continue working in retirement and choose to do so, there's nothing wrong with that. With a healthy nest egg to fall back on, you can enjoy a more comfortable retirement and rest easy knowing you'll be OK financially even when you can no longer work.

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