How to Plan for a Longer Life


About the Author

ryan serrecchia

true Ryan Serrecchia, CFP®

Executive Vice President /Partner
Orange County, California


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No one knows exactly how long they’ll live, but these days there’s a definite upward trend when it comes to lifespans for both men and women. With more people hitting high age benchmarks of 90 or even 100 comes the need to adjust your approach to retirement planning.

Instead of a 20-year retirement, people must now plan for 25 or even 35 years. And while many folks assume their expenses will go down upon retirement, that is not necessarily the case. As retirement years stretch into the 80s and 90s, expenses often go up due to increased healthcare costs and the need for nursing home care.

This raises a key question: How do you plan for a longer life and comfortable retirement, especially in the midst of inflation? Here are some proven tips to put into action, whether you’ve already entered your golden years or are still laying the groundwork for approaching retirement.


Work Longer and Retire Later

Many people can’t wait to retire early but doing so can harm them financially if they live to a ripe old age. The longer you work at either your current job or in a so-called “encore” career, the longer you can postpone taking money out of your retirement accounts or collecting Social Security.

Early retirement is all well and good, but not if it means you’ll need to worry about money for the rest of your life.

By not taking Social Security until age 70, you can increase your payout by 8 percent annually from the date at which you were eligible for full benefits. You could receive up to 129.3 percent of your monthly benefit if waiting until 70. There is no point in delaying benefits beyond that, as the amount no longer increases.

Besides finances, there’s another reason some older people want to remain in the workforce. Ask virtually any older person about their greatest fears, and developing Alzheimer's or another form of dementia is high on the list. Working longer keeps you productive and may improve your mental health. Staying engaged and active helps keep the mind elastic, while also providing supplementary retirement income.


Save More Money

It’s crucial to fully fund your 401(k) or other retirement plans. However, there are limits to how much you can save in an employer-sponsored retirement plan or IRA. That’s why one goal when planning for a longer life is saving significant amounts beyond your retirement accounts.

Your financial advisor can advise you on appropriate investments based on your circumstances, always keeping tax consequences in mind.


401(k) Distributions

A long retirement might affect how you choose to take 401(k) distributions, or what you might do with the money you withdraw. The IRS recently increased the maximum age for taking Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from a 401(k) and traditional IRAs to 72, up from 70.5. While you can start taking distributions without penalty at 59.5, the odds that your savings will allow you to live comfortably for another 40 years are probably not great.

Postpone retirement until age 72, and it’s more likely you won’t have to worry about money in your 90s.

What if you must take RMDs but don’t need the money at this time? There are ways to continue saving until you do need the funds. For instance, your financial advisor can immediately transition that money into your brokerage account, so that it continues to work for you while you make sure to follow all government regulations.

Everyone’s situation is unique. That’s why a solid financial education accompanied by professional advice will help you determine the best options for your needs.

For more information about retirement and planning for a longer life, contact a financial advisor at EP Wealth Advisors today.



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