If you’re a millennial, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard (or made) “joking” comments about how you’ll never be able to retire. But even if you’re skeptical about the possibilities, starting a fund for your twilight years while you’re still young is a smart move.
The generally-accepted benchmark for “retirement age” stands at 65 years old, and the current average retirement age is just below that at 63 years old. However, many millennials have an earlier retirement date in mind. According to a TD Ameritrade survey, the average millennial anticipates retiring at the age of 56. Bowing out of the workforce in your mid-fifties — a notion popularly known as “financial independence, retire early” or FIRE — sounds like a dream scenario to many young professionals. But from a financial standpoint, early retirement comes with plenty of difficulties attached.
TV personality and money mastermind Suze Orman cautions current members of the workforce against retiring early unless they have significant savings for that purpose. And by “significant”, Orman means “at least $5 million.” On a podcast appearance, Orman further crushed the hopes of millennials hoping to easily slip out of their working life at a young age by specifying that $5 million can justify early retirement, but you’ll “really” want an amount closer to $10 million before taking that step.
Orman’s primary argument against early retirement involves rising healthcare costs as we grow older. Unexpected medical bills and other health-related expenses can easily hobble your savings. And if you need to go back to work post-retirement to make the funds to cover these costs, you may encounter roadblocks like outdated contacts and a less-than-prime skill set for the job market of the future.
If you want to follow the Suze Orman-approved model of retirement, complete with multi-million dollar savings accounts, you’ll need some extra time to get your affairs in order. As a direct rebuttal to the FIRE movement, she actually recommends a later-than-average retirement age of 70.
“I personally think that [early retirement] is the biggest mistake, financially speaking, you will ever, ever make in your lifetime,” Orman told podcast listeners. She believes that retiring at 70 will put you in a better position to understand future costs attached to aging and to save extra funds for your growing expenses.
FIRE prioritizes gaining more time to enjoy retirement, while Orman’s theory centers around putting aside as much cash as possible to improve your post-career quality of life. Deciding what makes the most sense is an individual choice. But if money is your main concern, Orman’s advice is certainly worth considering.