In simple terms, I have both a job that I love and an exit strategy. So, as long as I can add value and keep my health, don’t you touch my office keys! Nonetheless, I am keenly aware that not all Americans are as excited about their jobs as I am about mine. I also realize that many people are in a situation where they will be forced to retire, perhaps before they are ready. Other folks might lose their jobs due to termination, and, unfortunately, some people may develop an ailment or illness which cuts short their working years. But, back to the original question: “When are you going to retire?” Or, I might want to ask you, “When should you retire?”
First, let me give you the bad news. I don’t have an answer! And, most people won’t. But, this decision is very personal and very important. Yes, it’s hard to believe, and often hard to accept, but that final working day does come. So, let’s take a look at everything you should consider. Even though those ads on television show a man and a woman strolling on the beach, drinking champagne, and playing with their kids on the sailboat, in the real world, for most people, that’s not how it is. So, it’s time to grab your records and take stock of where you are right now. Oh, and if you’re married, grab your spouse too!
The following are some frequently asked questions to help you determine when the time is right for you to retire:
- Should you, and /or your spouse, start taking social security early, now, or later?
- What will be the difference in income when you do start drawing your Social Security benefits?
- If you’re married, which social security check will go away at the death of a spouse?
- Do you have enough cash to make up that difference?
- What about your health? Do you have long-term care coverage? If not, have you set aside enough cash to cover those potential medical expenses?
- Are you thinking about retiring before age 65? Where will you get health insurance?
- Can you continue working? Will you then be able to stay on your employer’s health plan?
- Have you made a list of essential and discretionary expenses?
- How long will your money last?
- What will be your household needs?
- What plans, dreams, or goals do you still have to accomplish (your “bucket list”)?
- Finally, does it make sense to delay your retirement
These are just some of the questions that you should answer. And, if you are close to the traditional retirement age, it’s best to start thinking about these questions right now. Procrastination can really hurt you when you do retire! Dealing with all of these questions – honestly and realistically – can make the difference between a tranquil or torrid retirement. In my opinion … better be safe and plan now than be sorry you didn’t when that final day of work comes around!