Are You (Really) Ready to Retire?
This question is pervasive among baby boomers. Although we have financial calculators to help us figure out if we can live off of our savings, pensions and social security, what do we do to answer the non-financial parts of the question?
Recently the Wall Street Journal published a piece by Maryanne Vandervelde, a psychologist and author, covering an important topic-Are you emotionally ready to retire? Some of the big questions, she suggests, include:
Do I look forward to the work week or do I dread Sunday night when I start to think about Monday? Anxiety in older people can lead to actual health issues; are you getting ill more often? Do you have stomach problems? Maybe stress is telling you it’s time to quit.
Do I have many hobbies and interests? Can I schedule my day after I retire, or will I wander aimlessly through life? Might I be interested in donating my time to a worthy cause to use up all that time that I wouldn’t be at the office?
Do I have retired friends to spend time with? How are they doing in retirement? Vandervelde says women are prone to second guessing themselves and will seek the input of trusted friends before making a decision. Are you like that? What do your friends and colleagues think?
Where do I want to live? Does my spouse want to live there too? Where are our kids? The number one reason people divorce in retirement is wanting to live in different places-men want sun and sports, women want to be near grandchildren.
Am I smart and disciplined enough to be financially flexible? The stock market keeps reminding us that the future is unknowable. So, unless you have a reliable pension plus social security that covers all of your needs, be prepared for changes to your lifestyle that might be necessary.
How do I strike a balance between engagement and freedom? A mix of activities to be involved and the time to enjoy the fruits of our labor is the oft-desired retirement life. How do you make that happen in your particular circumstances?
We’ve witnessed dozens of people retire in the last 20 years. We are happy to report that the great majority love being retired.
If it’s so much fun, should you retire early (assuming you could)? A study published by Maria Fitzpatrick at Cornell University and Timothy Moore at the University of Melbourne found that men are 2% more likely to die in the month they turn 62 than in the prior month. Early social security benefits are available at age 62.
Also, the Urban Institute estimated that an additional year of work raises future annual retirement income by 9%, not an amount to ignore. They also found that the five-year mortality rate among men in their early 60s decreased by 32% when they delayed retirement.
Every story is unique. How a person decides to retire and how they live in retirement can be as different as every snowflake. But we all have to address the same questions when we try to design our lives in retirement.