When I look around me at all the baby boomers I know, very few of them are working full-time anymore. Most of them aren't golfing all day or playing Mahjong or other table games either. I wasn't surprised when I read a recent article about the rise of partial retirement. A University of Michigan Retirement Research Center study cited by a Market Watch article showed 20 percent of people between the ages of 65 and 67 work part-time. Fifteen percent of those between 60 and 62 are partially retired, which was unheard of in 1960. Although I still work full-time in the media and marketing field, I'm surrounded by baby boomers who are part-time freelancers. As a member of Generation X, I don't know what the trends will be when my generation retires in another 20 to 35 years. But I may be forced to find a part-time "bridge job" or freelance work in the years leading up to retirement. I am making money moves now to plan for a forced semi-retirement.
Paying down my mortgage
My first line of defense if I lose my full-time job after the age of 55 is to be mortgage free. I called my mortgage company to find out how much extra I will need to pay toward my mortgage to have it paid off in another 12 years. I found out I only need to add an extra $95 a month to be mortgage free by the time I'm 55. I can easily cut $95 a month from my budget, especially while I'm employed full time.
Holding off on Social Security
I'm planning to wait as long as possible before collecting Social Security. It's going to be a challenge to stretch my 401(k) and IRA retirement money if I need to start withdrawing the money in my 60s. I plan to make extra catch-up contributions starting at age 50 and going until I no longer work at a full-time job. My goal is to hold off on Social Security benefits until I'm 70.
Constructing a bridge of investments
In addition to securing a bridge job that fills in the income gaps until I collect Social Security benefits, I want bridge investments that get me from 55 to 70 without being broke. I plan to withdrawal money from my Roth IRA when I'm in my 50s if I have to. I won't withdraw money from the investment earnings until I'm 59 and a half so I can avoid any penalties.
Learning to live on one income
Being in a dual-income home, we are used to having a lot of discretionary spending money. If my husband and I both worked part-time in our 60s, it would be the same as having one full income. Our strategy is to pretend we only have one income at this time so we can save as much as possible for the unknown. According to the Market Watch article, people between 63 and 67 are at higher risk for losing their jobs. In fact, for every 1 percent rise in unemployment, there's a 2 percent drop in full employment for senior citizens between the age of 63 and 67.
Some Gen-Xers might feel as though retirement is too far off in the distance to worry about. As I watch my parents and baby boomer friends struggle to make ends meet in retirement, I start to feel the urgency to get a retirement survival plan together. I can't predict the future but growing old and needing money is as certain as death and taxes.
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