When my dear friend Jim is not tending to patients, he’s hiking in Bhutan, skiing in the Rockies or challenging Six Flags’ biggest coasters. At 67 (8.19 squared as he puts it), Jim is my poster boy for how to totally crush it in the glory decade, aka our 60s. Given that we’re living longer these days, you might be wondering why I’m so hell-bent on helping people reach a state of financial independence by age 60.
Health Spans vs. Life Spans
Health spans aren’t keeping pace with life spans. Average life spans continue to rise, but we’re not (yet) extending our disease-free years at the same pace. As I write this, the odds of having serious joint and back pain or getting an age-related illness in our 70s (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, etc.) are about the same as they were a decade ago. Of course, these and other challenges could surface at any time, but our capacity for adventurous travel will diminish with each passing decade.
One More Work Chapter
By 60, many baby boomers and Gen Xers will have logged 30 to 40 years of work hours in one field. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the freedom to pursue another passion, where income, whether higher or lower, is irrelevant? At 60, most of us will still have the energy for another work-related chapter, so why not make it an enjoyable one?
As a rule of thumb, most people are encouraged to wait until age 70 to start collecting their Social Security retirement checks. By doing so, you’ll receive a larger maximum payment—for today’s 70-year-old retiree, that’s around $3,500 per month. Waiting also means that if you end your current career at 60, your portfolio will have to replace 100% of your income for 10 years! If your nest egg isn’t quite large enough to do that, consider a part-time job that’s baby boomer friendly.
By focusing on industries where maturity is an advantage (home health care, professional driving, national parks, teaching, nonprofits) or jobs that are seasonal (theme parks, tour guide, tax preparation), you can generate some modest income and still have plenty of time for travel. Or perhaps you’ve been dreaming of starting your own small business and can afford to take that risk now. One of my clients just ended his corporate job and opened a bakery. I’m helping another couple in their early 50s sell their San Francisco house and start a dog training business in a city with a much lower cost of living.
As a bonus, there is evidence suggesting that people who stay engaged in some kind of post-retirement work activity actually live longer and happier lives.
Happy early retirement planning,