Is This the Secret to an Early Retirement?

Early retirement is still possible, but workers have a hard time believing that’s the case.

According to a survey last fall by, 70% of U.S. workers says they plan to work as long as possible during retirement. Only 25% say they won’t work at all. Of those who plan to work during retirement, 38% will do so because they like to work, 35% need the money and 27% see a combination of both.

In fact, nearly half of retirees (47%) are either very worried or somewhat worried about outliving their retirement savings, up from 37% in 2009. That’s made early retirement less a goal than a pipe dream. Just 13% of non-retired Americans hope to retire in their 50s, down from 27% in 2007.

“Working during retirement brings a lot of benefits,” says Jill Cornfield, retirement analyst. “I’m not surprised that nearly three-quarters of people said they’d like to work as long as they can while in retirement. It’s not just the money. When you can work as a consultant or find some part-time gig, it really helps you stay sharp.”

That’s a lovely way to spin it. Sure, it isn’t just the money, but we aren’t going to pretend that finances aren’t a factor for people working longer. Roughly 70% of workers expect Social Security to account for some of their income in retirement, including 10% who are depending on Social Security for all of their income. If that’s the case, it doesn’t pay to take Social Security early and be paid a lower amount.

Voya Financial points out that 59% of working Americans are very or extremely concerned about outliving their retirement savings — with 74% having never calculated their monthly retirement income needs — just taking that first step can be tough. Both Voya and U.S. bank note that retirees will need 70% to 80% of their current annual income to continue their current lifestyle in retirement.


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