First Person: The Average U.S. Retirement Age Is Rising, and So Are Ours

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A recent CNBC article noted that, "The average U.S. retirement age has climbed to 61, up from 57 two decades ago, and it's likely to age higher, according to Gallup's Economy and Personal Finance survey."

It went on to state, "The average non-retired American now plans to retire at 66, up from 60 in 1995, according to the Gallup survey."

Personally, my expected retirement age is rising as well. And while it might seem that the stock market can play heavily into when or how we retire, this isn't the only factor to be considered. In fact, there are several other issues major that are affecting my estimated retirement age right now.


Kids can be costly. From birthing costs and baby clothes, to school fees and college costs, there are all kinds of ways the kid costs can add up. With two children now (both ages six and under), my wife and I are now feeling the effect of these costs, and they are beginning to increase our expected retirement ages.

However, we are doing several things to try to help combat some of these major kid-cost areas. First off, we've found that we can take a huge chunk out of clothing costs. According to an article from, "A North Dakota State University study from 2010 found that the average American household spends about 3.8 percent of their income on clothing. The Census Bureau states that the average household income is about $50,000 per year, so that means roughly $2,000 per year, per household."

By utilizing secondhand clothing though from resale shops and garage sales, we manage to keep our kid-related clothing costs to about $150 a year, mainly for things like shoes and undergarments.

And lately, we've been utilizing a new tactic to keep costs down. By replacing holiday and birthday presents with "experience" gifts, we've not only cut costs but consumer-driven clutter as well. Things like our annual family zoo pass, sporting event tickets, swim lessons, and team sport fees have replaced some of our physical gifts, helping us to save money and reduce costly and unnecessary "stuff".

The housing market

The housing market had quite an impact upon our personal finances. We sold our home for almost $65,000 less than we purchased it for, and factoring in agent commission, closing costs, and all the rest, the loss on the home was substantially more.

However, we managed to take this situation and try to turn it into a positive. By downsizing our living situation after this sale, buying a smaller more affordable home, we were able to purchase the property outright. In effect, we cut out a $1,350 monthly mortgage payment, reduced our property taxes by $2,000 a year, and have hopefully put ourselves on track to reach retirement -- albeit a later one -- mortgage free.

Social Security issues

As someone with at least 30 years left to go until retirement, Social Security is a variable that's tough to pin down, and this is making it harder to plan for our retirement future. With the Social Security trust fund currently estimated to begin making only partial benefits (about 75 percent of current estimates) by 2033, determining how this aspect will factor into our retirement is tough. Therefore, I choose not to weight it as heavily, preferring to err on the side of caution and extend my retirement timeframe and increase estimated income needs from outside sources rather than count upon Social Security benefits that won't materialize.

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The author is not a licensed financial professional. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader's discretion.

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