Money

Americans think 61 is the ideal age to retire—here's what money experts say

Americans think the ideal age to retire is 61. Unfortunately, according to a recent survey from financial website Bankrate, which polled 10 certified financial planners from different parts of the country, it may be wise to wait longer.

63 is the more realistic age, they say, while nearly one in five respondents say you should wait until you're at least 70. Award-winning financial advisor and former CNBC host Suze Orman agrees.

She points out that Americans are living longer, so your retirement savings need to last longer, too. "You likely have plenty saved up to breeze through 15 years or so of retirement. But if you stop working in your 60s, your retirement stash might need to support you for 30 years, not 15."

A report from the Stanford Center on Longevity comes to a similar conclusion. Researchers analyzed 292 retirement strategies and determined that a key component of retiring successfully is delaying Social Security payments until age 70.

The best way to implement what they call the "spend safely in retirement" strategy is "to work just enough to pay for living expenses until age 70 in order to enable delaying Social Security benefits."

"In essence," the report adds, "age 70 is the new 65. To make this method work, retirees may also need to significantly reduce their living expenses."

If you want to leave the workforce before age 70, consider using some of your retirement savings to substitute for the Social Security benefits you're delaying, assuming you have enough. Steve Vernon, head of the Stanford Center's research team, tells CNBC Make It: "Suppose Social Security at age 65 would have been $20,000 per year and you're delaying it for five years. That's $100,000. So you set aside $100,000 and that's what you withdraw from age 65 to 70."

You can start receiving retirement benefits at age 62. The full benefit age is 66 years and two months for those born in 1955. That will rise to age 67 for people born in 1960 or later.

How to make sure you're prepared

Whatever the age that you'll decide to retire, it's best to start saving early. Lauryn Williams, who founded her own financial-planning company, suggests starting to save as early as age 19.

"Once you get in college, that first year get settled, but then also get saving," she tells Bankrate. "Automate that saving from the very beginning, create that habit and you'll finish college with a little nest egg for yourself and a little nest egg for retirement."

You can start by putting away small amounts of money on a regular basis using an interest-earning account like a Roth IRA.

Ultimately, everyone's scenario is different, and "whether reaching a milestone at a certain age is realistic depends on your own personal circumstances," according to Bankrate. The most important thing to consider is, "how much money you need to save in order to accomplish your financial goals according to your timeline."

Here's how much you have to save every month to retire with $750,000.

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