Gen X early retirement

Gen X Wants to Retire Early. Is It Still Possible?

They want to retire early, have more saved up, and have realistic expectations of how much it costs to retire.

But does Gen X have the upper hand over their Baby Boomer parents when it comes to retirement? A new study from PNC Bank suggests they might.

On average, Gen Xers expect to need $1.5 million for retirement, while Baby Boomers say they’ll need $1.3 million. Both age groups say they recognize that a 401(k) plan or similar retirement savings plan won’t last them all the way through retirement, but while Boomers tend to rely more on pensions or Social Security benefits, more Gen Xers said they believe themselves to be solely responsible for their own retirement by a margin of 20 percent.

Recession lessons learned

The good news is that the recession taught some hard lessons. As a result, folks are saving more, and more often.

According to the study:

  • 7 out of 10 have changed their financial behavior because of the recession;
  • 3 in 10 report being more focused on saving;
  • One-quarter are managing spending behavior;
  • And one-fifth are managing their debt better.

And though both groups learned financial lessons, it was especially a learning experience for Gen X. Since many of them entered the recession in their prime earning years, 51 percent said they are saving more as a result.

Why retire early?

By working longer and putting off Social Security payments, you can increase your retirement nest egg. But not everyone wants to work until they’re 70.

Another study by New York Life Insurance, asked retirees what they’d do differently if they were to retire again. Almost half — 46 percent — said they would retire earlier if given the chance.

“What the survey shows is that retirees, if given the opportunity, would want four or five years at the front end of their retirement, when they are healthiest, most active and able to get the most out of their retirement savings,” said David Cruz, senior managing director of New York Life in a statement.

The PNC study found that for Gen X, the average expected age of retirement was 63.6. For Boomers, it was 65.5.


Tips to do it yourself

The point of retirement is to enjoy yourself, so it makes sense that people want to retire early and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

But if you do want to retire early, you do have some options. Consider if any of these are right for you:

1. Income annuity plan

“When you plan for income, you get financial freedom,” said Ross Goldstein, the managing director at New York Life. The company has a 22 percent market share in fixed immediate annuities.

“If you know you have money coming in, you won’t have to worry about it later,” Goldstein said. “And the better you plan, the better your income will be. That’s the power of annuities.”

Here’s how it they work: You invest your money in a company like New York Life, they invest it during a “surrender period” (usually 6 to 8 years), and at the age you’ve specified, the insurance company begins slowly paying you your money back. It’s kind of like getting a paycheck of your own money during retirement.

If you choose this as an option, choose wisely: the Securities and Exchange Commission has investigated some of theses companies in the past for fraud. Make sure the company is reputable and check their rating with an agency like the Better Business Bureau to make sure they’re trustworthy.

2. 401(k)s

The good news here is that both groups say having the employer match 401(k) savings is important, and 91 percent of both groups get the full match.

And since Gen X came of age pretty much right as 401(k)s were being introduced as a a viable retirement plan, about 86 percent of them have access to one (or a comparable plan).

3. Save more

You almost made it through this post without being reminded that you should spend your working years saving as much as you can and spending as little as possible, especially on non-essentials, but we just had to say it one last time: Spend less, save more, and you’ll have a retirement worth looking forward to.

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