While having the option to retire at age 50 would be nice, it's impractical to consider retirement at 50 with no money saved. However, by strategically planning for your financial circumstances at age 50 and increasing your awareness of economic realities, you can dramatically improve your financial outlook in the not-so-distant future.
Many younger generations bank on the general notion that someone or something will help them out when they "get old." Government benefit programs should not be counted on, especially at age 50. The earliest age at which you can receive Social Security benefits is 62. The earliest you can receive Medicare is age 65. Moreover, according to the Social Security Administration, these programs are quickly running out of funding, with cost growth to exceed GDP growth through the mid-2030s, which means people currently in their 20s and 30s may see a heavy reduction in benefits when they become eligible. The prudent outlook on government benefits is to view them as supplemental income at 65 rather than as sustainable primary income.
Once you hit 50, finding a new job becomes increasingly more difficult than before. Also, your earning capacity diminishes as you draw closer to retirement age. Considering these two factors, it's crucial to earn and save the most in the prime of your working career so that you can live more comfortably at 50 and beyond.
Inflation is another important consideration as you contemplate retirement. Inflation is the overall price increase of goods or services over time. Basically, one dollar today will not buy as much as one dollar five years from now. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, if you purchased an item for $1,000 in 2001, that same item cost about $1,270 ten years later. As it pertains to retirement, this means the money you have saved will be worth less than when you originally saved it. Consider investing your retirement savings in an interest-bearing account to offset inflation.
Although 50 may seem like a long way away, by planning ahead and starting a retirement fund now, you will set yourself up for a much more comfortable future. Even if you have a low current income, you can make a positive impact toward your retirement by making small -- even if only nominal -- deposits into a savings account or a retirement account such as a 401(k) or an IRA. Not only will the money help, but the habit and awareness will change your personal finance attitude for the better.
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