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Retirement Planning > Retirement Investing

What's the Ideal Retirement Age? Here's What Americans Think

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Perhaps America isn’t as divided as we think, at least when it comes to retirement, or with other life milestones.

A survey just released by looked at the generational thought process of retirement, but also delved into other major financial milestones, such as the best age to purchase a home or open a credit card.

(Related: 2 Steps Could Help Most Clients Reach Their Retirement Goals: Morningstar)

The study found that, on average, Americans think the ideal age to retire is 61, and the right time to begin saving for retirement is 22. Women see the ideal age to retire as 62, while men see the right age as 60. Those who make less than $50,000 a year believe people should start saving for retirement at age 23, two years later than those who make more than that amount. Republicans think saving for retirement should start at age 20, while Democrats said 23.

The survey of 1,001 people was conducted via landline and cellphone by SSRS for Bankrate. Ages represented included 33% millennials (ages 18 to 37), 26% Gen Xers (ages 38 to 53), 31% baby boomers (ages 54 to 72), and 8% from the Silent Generation (age 73 and older). Of the respondents, 48% were male and 52% female; and 62% were white and 35% non-white (African-American, Hispanic and other). The majority were college graduates or had some college. Politically, the majority classified themselves as independents, while Democrats edged out the Republicans in other representation.

The study looked at several life events and what ages each group thought was best for them to happen. Here are some of the findings:

Something as simple as opening your first credit card account brought some uneven responses. For example, the majority of millennials believed the best time to open a credit card is between age 18 and 20, while all other generations thought the best time was between 21 and 25. That said, those who worked full time said getting a credit card between 18-20 was best age.

When should you buy or lease your first car? The majority of Gen Xers said 21 to 25 was the right age range, while millennials said 18 to 20 was the ideal age range. Both baby boomers and silents were OK with anywhere from 18 to 25 being the right age to buy or lease a first car.

The best age to buy a first home had similar responses among age groups. Millennials and baby boomers thought the best age range was between 25 and 29, while Gen Xers and silents said between 25 to 34. A majority of married and unmarried thought 25 to 29 was the ideal age range to buy a first home. Although those in the Midwest and South thought buying a home was best between 25 and 29, the Western and Northeastern regions of the country saw that span widening to between 25 and 34.

Inside Retirement

The majority of respondents in each generation said that between 65 and 69 was the best time to retire, although nearly as many Gen Xers who gave that answer said 60 to 64. Among respondents who had children, the two answers were equally popular.

A majority of both men and women said the ideal age range for retirement was 65 to 69, although the median age cited by women (65) was higher than that cited by men (62). White respondents gave a median age of 65, while nonwhites including Hispanics said 60.

Education wasn’t much of a factor, as college grads, and those with some college, gave a median answer of 65, while those with high school diplomas said 62. Republicans and those making more than $50,000 gave a median answer of 62, while Democrats and respondents making less than $50,000 cited an ideal retirement age of 65.

— Check out 3 Critical Decisions Every Pre-Retiree Must Make on ThinkAdvisor.


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