How to retire at 55 

1 min read by Unbiased team Last updated January 24, 2024

Find out about embracing the post-work life in your mid-50s, looking at the amount of money you need, savings tips, and other aspects of how to retire at 55.

Summary 

  • You need to plan for a retirement of approximately 30 years if you want to retire at 55. 

  • The average retirement savings at 55 are $537,560 – too low to retire comfortably. 

  • Ask a financial advisor to help you create a plan for retiring at 55. 

Retiring at 55 might be out of reach for more Americans now than a few years ago, but with careful planning, hard work, and savvy saving and investing, it can be done. Learn more about how to retire at 55.  

Can I retire at 55? 

The ongoing rise in the average and target retirement ages in America has left some younger Americans asking if they can retire at 55.  

However, considering that more than $1 million in savings will only sustain a moderately comfortable lifestyle during retirement, the average American would struggle to retire at this age.  

If you start working on an early retirement plan with a regulated financial advisor and have the time, earning potential, and dedication to see it through, you could join the ranks of America’s retirees in your mid-fifties.

How much money do I need to retire at 55? 

Retiring early isn’t feasible if you don’t have the savings or other retirement income to support yourself. This brings us to the question, “How much money do I need to retire at 55?” 

There is no easy answer to this, as it depends on what your personal expenses are – and those depend on a variety of factors, such as whether you will be a homeowner or a renter, your purchasing choices, how far and how frequently you travel, and various tax laws in your state of residence. 

According to some financial advisors, you can get a basic idea of the amount of money to save before retiring at 55 by multiplying your desired annual retirement income by an average retirement of 30 years, taking you to the age of 85. 

If you want an annual retirement income of $50,500 per year/$4,208.33 per month, you’ll need to save almost $1,52 million ($50,500 x 30 = $1,515,000). This example is based on the average annual expenses of Americans aged 65 and older in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics: 

ExpenseAverage Amount Spent In 2021
Housing $18,872
Utilities, fuel, public services $3,921
Health care $7,030
Transportation $7,160
Food at home $4,497
Dining out $1,994
Personal insurance and pensions $2,850
Entertainment $2,889
Clothing and services $986
Reading materials $138
Total $50,337

What are the average retirement savings at 55? 

Considering that the more than $1.5 million in the above example would only just cover average expenses, you might be wondering what the average retirement savings at 55 are.  

According to the Federal Reserve’s 2022 Survey of Consumer Finances, the average 55-year-old American has $537,560 in retirement savings.  

Given that this average is approximately $1 million short of what’s needed to sustain a relatively comfortable lifestyle, the average person would struggle to retire at this age. However, this does not mean that retirement at 55 is impossible. 

Saving for retirement at 55: How do I do it? 

The average American finds it incredibly difficult to dedicate large chunks of their monthly or annual income to saving for early retirement when you consider all the other day-to-day and big expenses that can get in the way.  

This might leave you wondering how to start saving for retirement at 55.  

Use these tips to take your first steps toward creating an effective plan: 

  1. Start planning your retirement lifestyle by figuring out how you plan to keep yourself busy and how much money you’ll need to live. Remember to include factors such as mortgage payments, expenses such as food, clothing, transport, travel, hobbies, and the number of years left before retiring at 55. Make sure you do thorough research and consider asking a financial advisor for advice. 

  2. Pay careful attention to sorting out your health insurance/healthcare options. If you retire at 55, you will need to wait another 10 years before you become eligible for Medicare. If your employer won’t cover you for retirement and you’re not on a spouse’s health insurance, explore other options, such as saving and budgeting for private health insurance in your golden years. 

  3. Go beyond traditional retirement savings options if you want to take early retirement. While you won’t necessarily need to look at saving double what you’re currently saving, you should try to save at a rate that will help you achieve that goal. Factor in Social Security benefits that you can start receiving from age 62 or the traditional full retirement age - but be sure to consider how much your income will decrease if you take it early. Consider speaking to a financial advisor about an investment portfolio of stocks, fixed-income securities, and cash allocations. 

  4. Remember to account for retirement taxes and to factor these into your savings plan. You will be charged a 10% income tax penalty if you withdraw from a traditional retirement account before age 59½. Ask a financial advisor about 401(k) and traditional IRA accounts versus Roth IRA accounts, tax-advantaged accounts, and other savings options. 

Get expert retirement advice  

While not entirely out of reach, early retirement requires careful planning, finding ways to maximize your savings, and listening carefully to trustworthy advisors to learn more about how to retire at 55.  

Let Unbiased match you with an SEC-regulated advisor to learn more about retirement and for expert financial advice. 

Writers

Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.