When I’m 64 – Is Age Driving Your Retirement Plan?

Benjamin Haas |

Age is relative. How we feel from year to year probably depends on a litany of things other than just age, which many would say, “is just a number.” I felt that way again this year as I recently celebrated my 35th birthday. 35 didn’t feel any different than 34, or 30 for that matter. Maybe you would say the same. In finance, age does matter, regardless of how you feel about it. Social Security benefits are defined by age. IRS tax penalties and IRA withdrawal rules are dependent on age. And Medicare benefits are too. That’s why some people base their whole retirement plan on age. Is that a good idea?

I thought about the popular Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band song, written by Paul McCartney, “When I’m 64.” He wrote that song when he was 16 years old. He had no idea what it would be like to be 64, but maybe he was just writing about what he saw. Think about life expectancy back when the song was released in 1967. Age 64 might have felt like the end. Now I see my 64-year-old clients going to health clubs and on worldwide excursions. One even ran a triathlon! They still act/ feel/seem young and vibrant – not mending fuses, knitting sweaters and digging weeds as Paul writes. They are not giving up on trying new things and taking on new adventures.

I have three clients that just retired in the last few months. One is 56, the other 63, and the other is 68. Six more are planning to call it quits in 2019, ranging from ages 55 to age 66. For just about all of them, age was not the determining factor in their decision – life and work circumstances were. Each will face unique and different hurdles in structuring their retirement plan, based on age. But what was absolutely common with all of them, having gone through the planning process with them, was their “retirement readiness,” their state of mind.

Is age driving your retirement plan? Do you have a date circled on the calendar based on an age, and are you just biding your time until you reach that age milestone? Because if that’s the basis of your retirement plan, I’d ask you to reconsider. Sure, it’s good to target a date. But retirement readiness means focusing on far more than age. The other variables of the plan are equally, if not MORE important to consider.

  • Are you content leaving behind your workplace, the relationships and colleagues, the structure, sense of purpose and activities?
  • Are you ready to redefine how you will spend your time, where you spend your energy and what your budget will look like?
  • And have you defined what it will take to create the paycheck you need and want, both now and in the future?

Age is just a number, one piece of the overall plan. But don’t fall into the trap of just biding your time without focusing on the other ways you need to get ready. And don’t just assume that certain age milestones will mean you’ll all of a sudden be ready. Take your cue from my recently retired clients – be retirement ready, regardless of your age. Because retirement isn’t going to be like Paul’s vision of 64-year olds mending fuses and digging weeds. What adventures and bucket list items await you? We’d love to talk about it.

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