Retirement should be easy. After all, it is a reward for a job well done and a life well-lived. You have earned a break. And you should be the one to define the parameters of that break. One would assume there isn’t much left to think about considering how many people have retired before you. Surely, it has all been asked and answered. It has all been worked out, right?
Apparently not. There are still questions that come up and feel new for every retirement. That is because every retirement is different. There is no retirement quite like yours because you are a unique individual. You have your own set of issues that are different from others. You are juggling health and finances and relationships. There is no simple equation to make it all work out. There is no formula to plug into a computer.
One of the most persistent questions people have about retirement is when, exactly, are they supposed to do it. Get that one wrong and you could ruin your entire post-work life. They say the surest way to die young is to retire early. But tell that to all the people who worked too long and had nothing but misery when they finally got around to it. While there is no way to answer the question for everyone in specific terms, here are some guidelines that should work for just about everyone:
Retire When You Can Afford It
If you want to be able to afford retirement, you need to have the right financial products in place well in advance. You can open a free checking account at any time and begin the financial journey that will take you through to retirement. If you are among the unbanked, that is a good place to start. People without bank accounts of any kind don’t tend to retire.
Other financial products you need depend on how much money you will need to meet your retirement goals. All else notwithstanding, you cannot retire until you have enough money to retire. So if you wanted to retire at 60, you will not be retiring then if your finances don’t allow it.
You also need to gaze into the crystal ball to figure out how long you are going to live. With medical breakthroughs, you could live to be 110. If your retirement only lasts till you are 80, you retired too young. At the beginning of Social Security, the average life ended at about 68 years old. People had 3 to 5 years of retirement. Today, people are living into their 90s with upwards of 30 years worth of retirement. It is a very different financial proposition. If your finances and savings are limited, you will want to plan for a much later retirement.
What Is Your Idea of Retirement?
When you should retire is tied to what retirement means to you. At the top of the hierarchy of needs is self-actualization. What would it take for you to be fully self-actualized? Do you see retirement as a way to end the way you used to make money so that you can be freed up for new and exciting adventures? Or do you see it as winding down and relaxing from all your adventures?
If the former, then you should probably retire young so you can get on with those other adventures that are calling. Many people have an amazing second act after they have made their initial mark on the world. Some of the greatest second acts will surprise and inspire you. If you have a second act planned for your life, by all means, get it started as soon as possible. If you just want to plant yourself in a rocking chair on the front porch, put it off as long as you can. That kind of rest is seldom restful for long.
Why Do You Assume You Have To?
Nothing about retirement is easy. Planning for it is not fun. For many, saving up for it is impossible. And getting down to the business of doing it is often not what it was cracked up to be. A surprising number of people find it so unsatisfying that they come out of retirement and get right back into doing what they love and have a lifetime of expertise doing.
If you carry much of your fortune and health late into life, the best thing you can do regarding retirement is to skip it entirely. Joe Biden just became the oldest President-Elect in history. What are your plans for age 77?
Get the timing right on your retirement and you will have a great one. just make sure it is in keeping with your budget, your idea of what retirement is, and whether or not you even want to do it at all.