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Can You Afford To Retire At 40? Or Do You Need To Wait Till 70?

Typically, it's someone who has experienced a life-changing event, said Tom Pursel, senior vice president and private wealth adviser for Merrill Lynch in Troy.

Pursel only recalls seeing someone retire that young when they've started and then sold a successful business or received a sizable inheritance.

In general, he said, he's seeing people retire after age 55.

Each situation can vary, though, based on one's savings, health and opportunities for taking an early retirement. "We do hear sometimes, 'No man in my family has lived past age 70.' Well, maybe taking it early makes sense," Pursel said.

What people need to realize, he said, is that the earlier someone retires, the longer they typically need to make their money last.

Blanchett, who is 37, said he doesn't believe it's realistic for most people to think they can retire in their 30s or 40s.

"Are you willing to go back to work if things don't go well?" he asked."If you retire at 35, you can you go back to work at 45. But what will you be able to do if you've been out of the workforce for 10 years?"

Many stay-at-home mothers know the story all too well. They may be able to find a job after their children have grown but many times, the jobs aren't paying as much as they would have if they stayed in the workforce.

Instead of dwelling on what could be an unrealistic retirement age, he said, it may be more important to figure out a way to save more money and remain in the workforce.

"People by and large tend to wish they would have saved more. So save more if you can," Blanchett said.

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