Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- The reality of retirement is looming among the baby boomer generation.
More than a quarter-million Americans turn 65 every month, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Many are faced with a tough decision; is it financially feasible to cash in on retirement?
In the late 1990s, 75 million Americans were in the prime of their working lives. Retirement by age 65 was a forgone conclusion.
"I'm working for this company, I'm going to have a good pension afterwards, I'm set for life," Carol Surine, a retired woman said.
Homeownership, consumer spending and employment rates were up. The Baby Boomer generation was an un-paralleled economic force.
"I knew I wasn't going to work any later than 65," Pam Polchow, a woman who plans to retire in September said.
But an unexpected crisis squashed dreams and delayed plans.
Many Baby Boomers were forced to tap into retirement savings and work longer than planned.
"With the economic crisis back in ‘08-‘09, we were spending 103 percent of our income at that time, Andy Wheeler, CFP, with Wheeler Associates said. “Those habits don't go away over-night. People bought more houses, they bought better cars, and they lived on credit."
Wheeler consults with many Baby Boomers. He says spending that outpaces savings is the biggest obstacle to retirement.
"Up here, most folks need $4,000-$5,000 a month to retire on, he said. “They need to be able to save that."
Saving for a sustainable financial lifestyle before or after retirement is based on a lot of small decisions.
"Our goal is to get everyone to save 15 percent of their gross household income," Wheeler said.
Don't leave money on the table, he says. If you work for an employer that works for 401K, get the match.
"If they match the first three percent and you put zero in, that's free money,” Wheeler said. “That is money that they are assuming you are taking."
Call your cable, Internet and phone providers and get rid of unnecessary services. Open up a Roth IRA and build up an emergency fund-with six months of fixed living expenses.
"Often times a consumer can find upwards of $400-$500 each month on savings, by just doing these basic things."
For those who have accumulated enough assets to retire, Wheeler says the most common struggle is finding healthcare.
"It's the number one expense for people ages 62-65, prior to getting on Medicare," he said.
Whether you want to retire by the “golden age” or keep working, experts say it's wise to take a good look at your financial habits.
"There's no financial planning day," Wheeler said.
Now that I've attained retirement, I find that I love it, a lot," Surine said.
By 2030, about one in five Americans will be older than 65.