Why are big numbers of Americans pushing back their planned retirement dates? The Employee Benefit Research Institute in its annual Retirement Confidence Survey says the reason can be summed up in three words: "a poor economy."
More specifically, according to the study, Americans are changing their retirement age for the following reasons:
Poor economy, 25%
Can't afford it, 18%
Change in employment situation, 17%
Health care costs, 12%
Higher-than-expected cost of living, 9%
Lack of faith in Social Security or the government, 9%
The unpleasant reality of today's America is that Americans trying to get ahead by working face daunting odds... and long working lives.
But you don't have to -- not if you allow yourself to think outside the box. I know that sounds cavalier and maybe cliché. But a cliché can be useful until something better comes along, and in this case what's called for is literally lifting yourself out of your current box and motivating yourself to transplant yourself to a new one.
Maybe I'm stretching the metaphor, but you see what I'm getting at. What I'm saying is this: get up, get going, and get out of the country, at least part of the time, at least for a while.
Changing your geography will allow you a fresh look at the world. Once you've engineered this change in perspective, all kinds of new ideas and opportunities will occur to you. Maybe you think you can't afford to retire overseas. My point is that, increasingly, Americans don't think they can afford to retire in America either. I'd argue that, unfortunately, that may be increasingly true. A typical retiree has a long and maybe difficult retirement road ahead of him in the United States. However, a retiree with even a smaller-than-typical retirement nest egg will find that his retirement prospects abroad are far brighter, maybe reinvented entirely. Overseas, retirement worries become retirement adventures.
In a new environment overseas, you can figure out how to make a buck if you need to. I recently met a young American expat in Chiang Mai who formed a small company to create apps for tablets. In Boquete, Panama, last time I was there, I met expat Americans who worked selling houses to other expat Americans. In France I know an expat who writes books for a living. In Mexico I know an expat who makes pottery and exports his production to the U.S.. In Thailand I know an expat who makes wooden furniture and exports his production to the U.S..
And I know dozens of people making money through online businesses in places all around the world. This is the era of the laptop enterprise.
Slugging it out in a median American job puts you further and further behind on your road to retirement. Figure a way to get yourself overseas and get on with your life from there.