Here’s Why You Should Prepare to Retire Earlier Than You’re Planning to

Shot of a mature man looking at his reflection the bathroom mirror
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Are you one of those people who says, “I’m never going to retire!”

If so, you may want to work on your backup plan.

The U.S. mortality rate has shifted, and the number of deaths per year rose 1.2% between 2014 and 2015, Bloomberg reported on new data from the Society of Actuaries Mortality Improvement Scale. It’s the largest change to the death rate since 1980.

What does that have to do with your retirement savings? Everything.

Americans are feeling the pressure to work well into their late 60s and 70s, and the age at which you can claim full Social Security benefits is slowly climbing.

But at the same time, more middle-age Americans are struggling with health problems that may take them out of the workplace sooner than expected.

A study by University of Michigan economists measured middle-aged Americans’ health by looking at “activity of daily living,” (ADL) or how easily someone can complete routine tasks.

“The study showed the number of middle-age Americans with ADL limitations has jumped: 12.5 percent of Americans at the current retirement age of 66 had an ADL limitation in their late 50s, up from 8.8 percent for people with a retirement age of 65,” Bloomberg’s Ben Steverman explained.

So trying to work into your 70s is a great plan, until it isn’t. Health limitations can dictate when you retire — possibly much sooner than you would prefer.

How to Kickstart Your Retirement Savings Right Now

Feeling the pressure to get your retirement savings on track? Remember, the recommended savings amount is six times your salary by the time you’re 50.

Giving up on your 401(k) and burying your head in the sand isn’t recommended if you don’t have anywhere near that amount.

Careful budgeting to prioritize your retirement savings can help you add a considerable amount of cash to your nest egg.

Starting in 2018, the yearly cap on your personal 401(k) contribution rises from $18,000 to $18,500. If you’re over 50, you can set aside a one-time “catch-up payment” of up to $6,000, bringing the total max contribution in the year to $24,500.

Real talk about your retirement lifestyle can help you get a clearer picture, too. And let’s face it, it’s way more fun to talk about your retirement plans than it is to talk about death.

Lisa Rowan is a senior writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder.