Iconic performer Bruce Springsteen is out with a memoir of his life in music, unsurprisingly entitled Born to Run. It’s his first attempt to capturing his own story, although many others have written it before, some even writing him off.
One biographer joked that he was “too old to rock” in 1989 — 27 years ago! Yet Springsteen today is touring and filling stadiums at 67.
The legendary singer-songwriter just laughs about still getting up on stage, touring for months on end and marathon recording sessions: “Why does a man play four hours a night? I’m still not exactly sure, you know.
“And I would have to say it still hearkens back to some of those original impulses and the fact that I need to go all the way, all the time.”
Most Americans think of 65 as a retirement age, and perhaps in some cases with good reason. Certainly the government agrees with that assumption. If you go to the Social Security Administration website and try to calculate your “full” retirement age, the answer will be either 65, 66 or 67, depending on your birth year.
Yet we know most people are perfectly capable employees at 65 and even 70 and older. Our current presidential candidates are both well over 65, for one thing. That’s a tough job at any age.
The CDC data says that, as an American, you can expect to live to age 78.8. More startling are the charts that show death rates falling uniformly for all groups — men and women, different races, different age ranges. We lose a lot fewer children than years ago but we also lose less of everyone, to varying degrees.
Charley Ellis, a highly respected author and member of the Investment Committee of my firm, Rebalance, brought up age recently in a conversation. He was talking about target-date funds, those automated investment plans that slowly become more conservative as you get older.
They sound good but, as Charley noted, the problem is picking that target. Far too many of us go for that 65 number and then forget about it. Then 65 comes and goes and we’re invested as if our personal expiration date is five years away!
That might have been true in the 1950s, but it’s absolutely not the case today. For one, studies show that married people live longer. If you are in a committed relationship, you should plan for your spouse (or you) to live up to 30 years in retirement.
One of you could make that happen, and your investments should be positioned accordingly. Charley’s idea, if you’re going to use a target-date fund, is to pick a date in the middle of your retirement years.
Sound advice, of course. If you’re not using a target-date product, I would add that it’s important to have a conversation with an advisor who can help sort through all the factors that affect your planning.
Will you work longer? Will your spouse or partner? What is the Social Security income picture like? Do you have any pensions or other income, or maybe real estate to consider. What about inheritances?
All of these moving parts must be coordinated and adjusted to your personal comfort with risk and your own, realistic retirement date. And that date might just be a moving target.
Asked when he might slow down, Springsteen told Rolling Stone: “There’s no real answer to that question, because it’s just where you’re at right now. You realize there’s a finiteness to it. So that changes your nightly experience.
“You can look out ahead and go, ‘OK, I’m 67. In 10 years I’m 77. Maybe that’s four tours away, or five tours.’ You can do that and go, ‘Wow.’ You can speculate, but that’s all.”
Speculate, yes, but also plan. Getting the retirement investing part of the puzzle right is important, and well worth a conversation.