Approximately 52% of workers say they plan to continue working past age 65, or never retire at all, according to a survey from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.
If the idea of working well into your senior years sounds dreadful to you, retiring as early as possible may be a better option. While retiring early isn't easy, there are a few steps you can take to make sure you're on the right path.
1. Make sure you're saving enough
No matter what age you choose to retire, you'll need to set a savings goal. But it's especially important if you're retiring early, because you'll have to save more money in a shorter amount of time.
Use a retirement calculator to estimate how much you'll need to save. Remember, too, that depending on how early you plan to retire, you may not be able to depend on Social Security benefits. You're not eligible to begin claiming benefits until age 62, so if you intend to retire before that age, you may need to survive on your savings alone until you can start collecting benefits.
2. Think about how you'll cover healthcare costs
The average 65-year-old couple can expect to spend close to $300,000 on out-of-pocket healthcare costs during retirement, according to research from Fidelity Investments. In addition, you won't become eligible for Medicare until age 65. So if you retire before then, healthcare costs could take a substantial bite out of your budget.
You have a few options when it comes to covering healthcare costs in retirement if you're not eligible for Medicare yet. You can enroll in COBRA insurance after you leave your job, for instance, but the caveat is that you can only keep COBRA coverage for up to 18 months. So if you retire before age 63 1/2, you'll need to find another type of health insurance before you can enroll in Medicare.
Another option is to buy health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace. You may face higher premiums or deductibles than when you were still employed, but if you develop health problems, having expensive insurance is better than no insurance at all. Just be sure to account for these costs as you're budgeting for retirement.
3. Be prepared to make budget cuts now
It's hard enough to save when you're planning on retiring at the traditional retirement age, but it's even more challenging if your goal is to retire early. You'll need a hefty nest egg to enjoy retirement comfortably, and unless you have loads of spare cash lying around to invest, you may need to make some budget cuts.
Depending on how much you need to save for retirement and how many years you have left to prepare, you might need to make significant financial cutbacks. But the sooner you start saving, the fewer sacrifices you'll need to make.
If you're unable to save as much as you need, you may consider reducing your retirement expenses instead. You may choose to downsize to a smaller home once you retire, for example, or consider relocating to a more affordable city. The more you can reduce your expenses, the easier it will be to retire early.
Early retirement is more achievable than you may think, but you'll need to have a strategy in place. By making these money moves right now, you'll be on your way to retiring as early as possible.