be able to relax and not have to jump every time the phone rings.”
Cassel, who also relishes her five-mile walks each morning, didn’t retire early by accident. She decided in her mid-40s to invest specifically for that goal. And she sought out advice from people who could help her achieve that dream. Nonetheless, Cassel plans to return to work part time perhaps as a parent or student counselor in the Broward County, Florida, school district or the local community college system.
“I don’t consider myself fully retired,” she says, “because I still feel I have a lot to give.”
WORKING PAST AGE 65
Unfortunately not everyone will have Cassel’s option of choosing whether to work. In fact, for a growing number of Americans, retirement will seem a lot like their working days.
Why? Because experts say an increasing percentage of Americans will be doing exactly that: working past age 65 in order to supplement their incomes.
“A lot of times that’s somewhat heartbreaking for people,” says Grady, noting that as a financial planner, “the worst thing you can do is crush someone’s dreams,” about how their retirement will turn out. “But the best thing a planner can do is give a client a reality check,” he adds.
Lucille Darrell, 55, is one such individual who plans to work part time to bring in extra income during retirement.
Darrell earns a modest salary as a bookkeeper for the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) in Los Angeles. She only began saving for retirement at the beginning of 1998 and has since amassed about $6,000, including contributions from her employer.
Every pay period she puts $92.31 into her 401(k) plan and her employer throws in another $56.94. At this rate, she knows she won’t have nearly enough money on which to retire comfortably. And with just a decade to go before she turns 65, Darrell also knows she’ll have to remain in the workforce beyond the typical age of retirement. “I plan to work as long as I can,” she says. “If I can work until 70, I will-God willing.”
One of Darrell’s biggest concerns is being saddled with high medical bills in retirement. While she does have life insurance, she’d like to be able to purchase long-term healthcare insurance. But she simply can’t afford the rates she’s been quoted, which adds to her worries about possibly being ill later in life. “Right now, I’m in good health. But you never know,” she says.
Because she’s in such a precarious financial position, Darrell says she doesn’t even like to think about retirement. “I’m not sticking my head in the sand,” she says. “But all I can do is put money away and look for openings in the stock market so I can buy some shares in something.”
That’s a risky strategy, most experts agree. Instead, the pros say investors are much better off owning mutual funds-even aggressive growth stock funds, which offer more diversification than individual stocks.
On the flip side, however, many financial planners say one of the