The growing movement of several millenniums and members of Generation X in their 40s, 30s and 20s, which goes through the acronym of “FIRE” (Financial Independence, early retirement) is now getting a lot of attention.
Some people in early retirement are an inspiration that shows what is possible when they opt out of the consumer story of society. But too often, early-retirement stories focus on intensive tactics to save money and present those in the movement at odds. Stressing the novelty of the Movement and the extreme lifestyles of a couple of followers distracts them from the more important reality: early retirement is not a novelty but an inevitability for far too many Americans.
Millionaires next door: One pair’s frugal path to early retirement More than half of U.S. workers over the age of 50 are pushed out of long-held jobs before they choose to retire, according to a new analysis of ProPublica and the Urban Institute’s Health and Retirement Study data, often resulting in irreparable financial harm that threatens their retirement and the rest of their lives. Many never find a job again, and those who often take a massive payroll or make further sacrifices that diminish their quality of life significantly.
Only one in ten will ever match the previous income before they have been forced out. In conjunction with the rapid disappearance of pensions at the same time as pension savings stagnate. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) research indicates that about half of pension savings are accumulated after 50, and even those nearest to retirement between 56 and 61 years have average family retirement savings of just $17,000. Our collective story insists that everybody can achieve the American Dream and control our own destinies. When we retire, we believe it is our decision. The problem is, we will never really get the choice for most of us. It is a fact that most of us will not retire when we want to, whether it is downgrading and not being able to find a job due to an ageistic job market, having to stop being ill or disabled because we collectively grow sicker or have to stay at home to care for someone else.
Therefore, we are seeing an ongoing increase in the retirement age, from 60 in 1995 to 66 in 2018, but the difference is significant and persistent in terms of when the Americans actually retire. The average pension age is 63, not 66. And naturally, we are all aware that automation, externalization and transformations in industry are a constant threat to long-term job security. What you are doing now simply won’t exist as a job when you’re 50 or 60, when workers make the most of their retirement savings.
Even though you love your job and have zero will to leave before your 60’s, you may not be able to do so at the end of the day and if you can afford to leave work at a younger age than that you plan to work, you are far better off. We must be better prepared for an early retirement that begins by changing how we are thinking and talking about retirement, not just as something predictable with perfect accuracy but more like a natural disaster. And we all expect to have early retirement something, not something that we treat as a fringe phenomenon for thousand-year-old tech brothers.
The oxygen in personal financial advice nowadays tends to persuade people to work for longer, for example, Suze Orman urged people not to retire or to claim social security until they were at least 70 years old. This is good advice for those who choose to continue working until that time, but the data show that this is an increasingly small minority. And if you’re in that lucky few, or not, you can’t know until it’s too late to do a lot. Those of us who provide personal finance guidance must continue to advise individuals to do their job as long as possible if they have undersaved, but to balance it sooner and save more quickly.
To really address this, we must also find policy solutions which provide better options than401(k) plans and retirement accounts (IRAs), investment vehicles that benefit largely the already wealthy and which, as stated by the EPI, most workers fail and do not sufficiently replace the pensions of the past. Such solutions should include ways for people with lower income to save more. The loss of pensions has created greater differences, according to the EPI, between white Americans and people of colour, and it has to be resolved. More financial education is also needed in schools.
Currently, only five states are graduating from the Champlain’s College Center for Financial Literacy with an A grade. And 30% of countries earn D or F. Most American high-school students are never required to graduate from a personal finance class. But the best thing any of us can do on a personal level is to see retirement not as far away in the distant future but as something that you can move towards in the short term. Save more, save sooner. Accept that you may not always have the choice, even if you love your job.
Our new universal financial goal, not 65, 70 or beyond, should be to be fully set for retirement by age 50. Many of you may find the extreme early retirement movement odd, but it offers those with disposable income hope that your financial habits and future security can be completely changed if properly motivated.
It is now time to plan early retirement not only for a certain marginal movement but for everybody.