A single, ideal retirement age that all of us can agree upon is tough, if not impossible, to come by. So many variables go into the decision to retire, including income, lifestyle, savings, health, indebtedness, outlook, temperament, and personality.
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According to Gallup polling, 62 is the average age at which U.S. workers retire as of 2014, and there are definite trend lines in how long people anticipate working. Gallup in 2015 found that 37 percent of working Americans expect to retire after age 65, more than double the percentage who said so in 1995.
But many financial experts point out that reality often disrupts the best-laid plans, and circumstances can force a person to retire earlier than expected.
In light of the uncertainties, one rule of thumb is to save for retirement as if you plan to stop working at age 59, thereby giving yourself "the flexibility but not the necessity to work longer," Rebekah Barsch, a vice president at Northwestern Mutual, told Fox Business.
Federal rules regarding Social Security benefits and withdrawals from retirement savings plans, such as 401(k)s, may also figure into your thinking.
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The official U.S. retirement age — the age at which a person receives their full Social Security benefits — increases gradually until it reaches age 67 for people born in 1960 or later. The government also mandates that retirees begin taking withdrawals from their 401(k) and IRA accounts not long after they have turned 70 years old.
A widely circulated study from 2013 offers a 25-point checklist to help people choose a target retirement age, based on a deep and detailed appraisal of circumstances incorporating many of the factors cited above, according to BabyBoomerGold.org.
No 4. on the list from study authors Kenn and Patricia Tacchino is "Evaluate the impact of your debt." If you think debt is tough to erase while you're still working, imagine trying to do it on a limited pool of retirement income.
However you approach the question, the goal is "to retire at the age you like and retire well," and not outlive your money, CNBC personal finance correspondent Sharon Epperson said.
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