In a world where people live longer healthier lives, the age of retirement is changing. Further, retiring young is not necessarily the way things work in today's world. Much has changed since the recession began in September 2008 and little has improved. Though some people have the comfort of financial security in their 60's - alone or with combined income - many have lost their retirement packages.
Many retirees expected to downsize their homes - sell the older larger house and buy something smaller - thus keeping money from the sale of their property as a cash reserve. Sadly the housing market crashed along with most else making that source of security something from an old chapter in the history of our economy.
Every day I meet people my age (68) who are still working - some full time - others part time - those who need the money - others who want make a difference - and others who are healthy and want to just keep busy.
I am lucky to embrace what I do and continue on until the end, not for financial reasons but because I am lucky enough to be totally healthy and have no need to retire.
80 Is the New 65 for Many Retirees CNBC - November 16, 2011
The concept of a "retirement age" is becoming irrelevant, at least according to a new study of middle-class Americans. Whether it's a desire to reach a certain nest-egg number, dealing with rising health-care costs, or grappling with mortgage debt, more workers are deciding to delay retirement.
A quarter of middle-class Americans - defined as earning between $25,000 and $99,000 annually - say they will need to work until at least age 80, according to the annual retirement study by Wells Fargo.
"Another interesting shift in the mindset of Americans is their perception of how much money they need. Three-fourths of respondents said it's more important to have a specific amount versus a date: $350,000 was the median nest-egg goal, but median retirement savings were only $25,000 dollars," said Laurie Nordquist, executive vice president of institutional retirement at Wells Fargo.
Money managers will tell you that the driving force behind delayed retirement is the savings gap. The gap is widened by grim economic factors hitting the middle class. "Social Security cuts and mortgage debts are on the top of their minds," adds Nordquist.
When it comes to mortgages, the generational gap is the great divider. Overall, 86 percent of respondents said they want to pay off their mortgage before retirement.
Get underneath the ages, however, and the tunes change. Ninety-one percent of people age 25 to 29 cited this goal as very important. Over age 60? Just 40 percent said they thought it was important.
This data reveal a growing trend in expectations. Much of them have to do with how young and old view Social Security .
More than a quarter of people in their 20s and 30s expect no income at all from Social Security during retirement years. On average, people in that age group expect Social Security to cover only 20 percent of their retirement funding, according to the study. While political leaders consider potential cuts to future Social Security and Medicare benefits, those already in their 60s still consider their pensions a sure bet.
Given these factors, what is a hopeful retiree to do? "We're seeing people work longer, but they can also change their lifestyle expectations," Nordquist says.
Workers are already adjusting to this new reality. "I'm talking with the tax man now to see what the options are. I wasn't planning on delaying retirement, no. But I'm considering part-time work," says Linda Wilson, 63, who works full time for the Bonnier Corp. She's been working full time for more than 20 years.
Inheritance? A Thing of the Past
The study also found that older Americans are hanging on to their money. Only 22 percent of respondents said it was important to leave an inheritance. Though economists pontificate about a massive wealth transfer between generations as the baby boomers age, in a struggling middle class, reality may disappoint.
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