After a year of COVID-19, more Americans are considering retiring sooner than expected after the pandemic of forced lifestyle changes that have caused some people to reconsider how they spend time.
Americans under 54 had a higher percentage – 13% – of early retirees or people likely to retire within five years, in 2020, compared to previous years, according to the results of a March survey. of 60,000 households from market research firm Hearts and Portfolios, even as more US households hope to work as long as health permits.
Between 2010 and 2016, fewer middle-aged Americans identified as pre-retirees or post-retirees. In 2020, however, more middle-aged households identify themselves as such; According to the survey, 44% of households aged 55 to 64 considered themselves to be pre-retirees or post-retirees last year.
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Elizabeth Gavino, owner of insurance consultancy Lewin & Gavino, said she saw a 30% increase in client inquiries about pension plans in 2020, many of which came to fruition.
“Usually I have peaks and troughs in my business because the summer is slow, Medicare registration is not open until the end of the year, and I will have aging clients in my business. Medicare or career changes, ”she said. “… Last year was without interruption. I had no break. It was a constant barrage of calls and new customers. I had a banner last year. “
Many people have been put on leave and have decided not to return to work; others realized they didn’t appreciate their jobs as much during the pandemic and decided not to look back. People have expressed their disinterest in daily travel and their fears about the virus. Others have expressed a desire to stay home after many businesses and businesses turned to work-from-home models, Gavino said.
One of his clients – a couple from New Jersey who had lived in the same house for 40 years – decided on a whim to retire in Las Vegas after never having traveled to the “city of seconds.” chances ”.
“There were constant appeals from people… realizing that what they thought was important before the pandemic was not really that important in their lives,” she said.
Hearts and Wallets estimates that there are approximately 11 million American households under the age of 55 who “aspire to retire at age 55”.
By comparison, nearly 40 million households under the age of 55 aspire to retire between the ages of 62 and 70, and 5.3 million households aspire to retire before the age of 35.
A 53-year-old Connecticut teacher who asked to be identified only as Mary plans to retire in early 2022 at the age of 54 after 29 years in the classroom. She had been planning to retire around this time for three or four years, but the COVID-19 pandemic confirmed her move.
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“To begin with, all my children were forced to [work] from home when COVID hit, forcing us to make a lot of purchases we hadn’t planned on making, “including an extra refrigerator, microwave, and toaster oven,” Mary said. Welcoming a family of five to the home also increased her utility bills.
Her youngest daughter suffers from depression, anxiety and an immune deficiency specific to pneumonia. Her high school blended learning model prevented Mary from finding transportation for her daughter to and from school on certain days, so she decided to take time off and eventually got a doctor’s note allowing her to stay at home with her children.
“I had planned to retire after 30 years anyway, but COVID solidified the decision without a doubt,” Mary said. “There must be a relative at home to keep the family from falling apart.…. I don’t see myself sitting down when I retire. I want to keep working, but I need a more flexible schedule for myself and my family. Having children and two parents working full time leaves something out. ”
She added that she knew that “many teachers” belonging to a mutual Facebook group “had decided to retire or resign due to COVID in particular, not because they intended to do so before the COVID ”.
Those who want to stop working at age 55 are more likely to use a variety of investment options and are more open to retirement and financial advice, but their savings behavior shows that their goals can be high without change, according to Hearts and Wallets.
A larger percentage of Americans also plan to retire before age 65 – 18% before 59 and 21% before 64, which is about four in 10 people under 65 – than in recent years, according to the investigation.
About one in three American households say they “will work full time as long as health permits” and expect to stop working full time after age 70, but 31% plan to stop working full time before 64 years old. About one in two American households that want to “stop working / retire at a certain age” plan to retire at 64.
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Tanya Taylor is a full-time computer pastry professional and travel blogger who plans to retire before or before age 62 after one year of COVID-19, although she previously planned to retire between 65 and 70 years old.
“I considered early retirement in 2019, but I wasn’t prepared to miss out on salary, paid time off and medical benefits,” Taylor told FOX Business. She was also concerned about paying medical bills out of pocket. “Since COVID, I have been convinced that early retirement is the best decision for me. “
Taylor described having an aging parent with COPD at home who was “afraid to go outside.”
“Messages about how to catch COVID fluctuated in early 2020. He didn’t want to take any risks because of his condition,” Taylor explained. “As a result, he became dependent on me for shopping and picking up prescriptions. His inactivity throughout the year began to manifest itself in other ways, and before long he could hardly take four steps without suffering from air.
The past year has given her a “new perspective,” and she now wants to “take advantage of the senior years and narrow down” her to-do list while she has “the mental and physical capacity to do it.”
For many Americans, the pandemic has dramatically changed their financial situation and their retirement plans, especially people who live salary to salary, Gavino said.
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About half of non-retired Americans say COVID-19 has made it harder for them to reach their long-term financial goals, and 44% say the pandemic will set them back, according to a March survey from the Pew Research Center. three or four years. About 17% say the pandemic could delay their retirement plans.
Yet many of Gavino’s clients have made the decision to retire knowing that they might not be as well off had they retired later in life, but are willing to make sacrifices, and expanding virtual learning and working opportunities give retirees a new home for what is achievable without having to go to an office and spend money on meeting fees, personal maintenance, in-person business meetings, etc.
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People are “tired” and realize that they can “survive on their savings,” she said.
“It’s been an abnormal year,” Gavino said of 2020, adding that “the majority of people” she spoke to “stood up and said, ‘I think I want my life to be different because that I do not know if tomorrow is promised. . ”