Different generations differ in when to retire, buy home, get credit card

A new BankRate.com report looks at the perceived optimal ages for various financial milestones like getting a credit card, buying a house and retiring.

Americans, on average, think the ideal age to retire is 61 years old and the ideal age to buy a first home is 28 and the best age to open a first credit card is 22, the right time to start saving for retirement is also 22 and the ideal time to buy or lease a first car is at 21.

Gen Xers (ages 38-53) think the ideal retirement age is 60 years old, while Millennials (ages 18-37) come in a tick higher at 61 years old. Older Baby Boomers (ages 64-72) and the Silent Generation tend to be more conservative in their estimations (64 and 65 years old, respectively).

“There is nothing wrong with having an aggressive retirement goal,” said Bankrate.com analyst Amanda Dixon. “However, if you're striving to retire early, you need to start consistently setting aside money for the future right now. Time will be your greatest ally if you can get into the habit of saving money while you're young.”

Gen Xers also think people should start saving for retirement by his or her 21st birthday, which is 10 percent higher than everyone else.

“It’s important to set financial goals around age. But, you want to make sure that you’re being realistic. And, once you set those goals, you need to make sure that you have a plan in place for how you’re going to make that happen,” said Dixon.

Millennials have been afraid of racking up credit card debt in recent years, but now those surveyed said you should have a credit card by the time you're 21.

Most of the generations believe you should buy a home by 28, except for the oldest generation, who say 26. Dixon says that group got married, started families and settled down at an earlier age than nowadays.

Today, the median age for first-time homebuyers is 32, according to the National Association of Realtors.

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