As you close in on retirement, you still have a lot of life to look forward to: Men age 65 today can expect to live to 83, and women to almost 86, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics. That also means, however, that you have a lot years you’re going to need to pay for. These three moves will help you to ensure you don’t run out of money:
MOVE #1: Time your career exit on your terms
Some 65% of baby boomers plan to stay on the job after age 65 or never retire, according to a recent survey by Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. Working longer extends your saving while reducing the number of years you must cover. You also get a fatter Social Security benefit for every month before age 70 you delay taking it. Now here’s the big catch: You can’t count on your job lasting.
Nearly half of current retirees ended up leaving work earlier than they planned.
And Boston College researchers found that in many professions people retire early because key abilities decline with age—dentists, for example, need to maintain fine motor control. In other jobs, older workers may lack cutting-edge skills. So by your fifties, take steps to extend your employability.
Stay engaged in your current career… Sign up for any training your employer offers, and look for skill-building courses online—AARP’s TEK Academy has free and low-cost courses on things like social media and web analytics. Many colleges offer certifications, a less expensive route than grad school, says Nancy Collamer, author of Second-Act Careers.
You might also talk to your employer about a phased retirement, in which you move to a part-time role. About 18% of employers in one survey said they offer it, and recently the federal government has been rolling out a program for its employees. But in most cases you’ll have to negotiate informally. Build a case based on the value you’d offer vs. a full-timer.
… or try one a new one. Mechanical engineer Smiley El-Abd, 63, built a business while pursuing something he loved. An avid cyclist, he began doing custom bike fittings for triathletes out of his basement in Kensington, Md. “My side job has turned into a dream job I will carry into retirement,” he says.
For most people, making a switch into something new will require new skills. Check out conferences offered by professional associations in the industry you’re targeting to determine the training you’ll need. If you’re thinking of a nonprofit career, volunteer with an organization in that field, says Chris Farrell, author of Unretirement.