How Can You Decide If It's the Right Time to Retire

Years ago, knowing when to retire was easy.  Back then, you probably would have taken it for granted that you would retire when you turned 65.  Or, if you worked for the same employer your entire career (which was much more common in decades past) you would retire when you had worked enough years to qualify for a full pension.

Today it’s different.  The decision of when to retire is no longer clear-cut.

It’s much less likely that you’ll stay at the same employer long enough to qualify for a meaningful pension.  Many companies don’t even offer pensions any more, offering only tax-sheltered savings plans (such as a 401(K)) instead.  And the window in which you can begin to collect Social Security has widened to age 62 to 70.

In fact, the average age at which American workers retire is now 62.  Americans also retire an average of three years earlier than they had planned.  This may be come about due to health issues or needing to care for a loved one with health issues, being laid off and unable to find a new job, or being offered an attractive early retirement package.

You may find yourself facing the decision of whether or not to retire sooner than you expect.  How can you decide if it’s the right time to retire?

It’s a complicated decision, and there are many factors to consider.  This article will help you navigate some of these issues and answer some of the many questions you are facing.

...continue reading "How Can You Decide If It’s the Right Time to Retire?"

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Wheres the best place to retire

Do you ever daydream about where you’d most like to live after you retire?

When you visit beautiful places on vacation, do you ever think, “Wow… It sure would be great to retire here!”?

Do you ever think that surely there must be some place out there that’s just right for you?

It’s fun to think about where you want to retire!  After all, once you no longer have your job tying you to a particular area, there’s no reason not to move to a place that’s more to your liking if you want to.  Perhaps you want to move someplace warmer, someplace where the cost of living is lower or someplace closer to the water.

But once you start to think more seriously about where you want to live, it becomes more complicated and perplexing than fun.   There are so many factors to consider:  cost of living, weather, taxes, how close you want to be to your friends and family, whether an area has the amenities you desire…  It can get overwhelming fast!

With so many factors to consider, which ones are truly important? 

...continue reading "Where’s the Best Place to Retire?"

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If you’re like many people, you probably don’t think much about what your life will be like after you retire.

Maybe you don’t like to think about getting old.

Forming a clearer picture of how you would like to live your life after you reach the point where you no longer need to work will help you make better plans, both financially and otherwise. It will also give you more to look forward to.

The questions in this slideshow will help you sort these things out.

...continue reading "20 Questions to Ask Yourself (and your spouse) Before You Retire"

How many things are you putting off until you retire?

Sure, your life is busy. There never seems to be enough time to do the things you really want to do. It’s easy to think, “When I’m retired, I’ll have all the time I want for <insert activity here>.”

Hiker at Grand Canyon

To an extent, you’re right. You will have a lot more time to do the things you want after you retire. And it’s good to use these things as incentives to help you look forward to retirement and to better plan for it.

But why postpone happiness until sometime in the future? There’s no lifetime quota on happiness and enjoyment – you can have as much as you want.  If you put things off for too long, you may never get to do them, or you may no longer have as much physical or mental capacity to do them.

I’m going to suggest seven things that people often postpone, thinking that they will be able to devote time and attention to them once they retire. And I’m going to present a case for why it’s in your best interests to start doing them now, rather than wait.

...continue reading "7 Things You Shouldn’t Put Off Until You Retire"

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It’s December in Phoenix.  Our daily high temperatures reach into the upper 70s, and our nighttime lows are in the lower 50s.  The days shift between sunny and partly cloudy;  it rains only occasionally.

The freeway traffic is heavier, the restaurants are more crowded, and the grocery check-out lines are longer.  Why?  The snowbirds are here!

Retire Fabulously Snowbirds Crowded Freeway Heavy Traffic Retirement
Snowbirds add millions of dollars to the local economy, but also clog the freeways, restaurants, and check-out lines.

Snowbirds are people who migrate from colder regions of the United States and Canada to sunny spots in Florida, Arizona, and other Sunbelt states every year.

But to the millions of people who migrate every year, it offers the best of both worlds – an opportunity to maintain ties to your family, friends, and the familiarity of the place you’ve called home for much of your life, as well as an escape from cold, wintery weather and a change of scenery.

Why is seasonal migration so popular among retirees?  What are the drawbacks and the costs?  What do you need to plan for, and what challenges must be confronted?

...continue reading "The Best of Both Worlds: The Pros and Cons of the Snowbird Lifestyle"

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The Old Home

Are you planning to move after you retire?  While top ten lists of retirement havens are a staple of today’s list-happy internet, there are still many people who plan to retire right where they are.

My 2014 reader survey indicates that over 60% of respondents are considering moving or have already moved.  Only 15% say they aren’t planning to move, and the rest are unsure.

On the other hand, a recent article on CNN Money claims that 63% of Baby Boomers plan to stay in their own homes when they retire.  In the October, 2014 issue of Consumer Reports, 65% of retirees surveyed had not moved.

Of course, you can find statistics to prove anything.  Regardless of what some percentage of people is planning to do, what really matters is what you want and what makes the most sensible choice for you. ...continue reading "Not Planning to Move? The Case for Staying in Place"

Road into horizon with Start stenciled-cropped

If you’re still five, ten, or even twenty years away from retiring, why worry about it now?

You’re busy, and you’ve got your career to worry about. If you’re a parent and you still have kids at home, it’s all you can do to keep track of all their activities and needs. And you’ve got a to-do list a mile long. What’s the big hurry?

If you’re stuck in a job that’s unpleasant, stressful and not particularly fulfilling, you are probably thinking of retirement more in terms of being able to permanently escape from the hell of your day-to-day work, rather than as a period of your life when you can enjoy more leisure and spend your time doing things that are more enjoyable and fulfilling to you.

You may be thinking of retirement more in terms of what you will be retiring from, rather than what you’ll be retiring to.

This is a recipe for boredom and unhappiness. Being able to eliminate that which is causing you pain and suffering is good, but if you don’t have something meaningful to take its place, you’ll just be replacing one form of suffering with another – and one that doesn’t pay nearly as well.

I believe it’s important to take time every now and then to dream about all the possibilities that lie ahead for you after you stop working a full-time career, and start formulating some plan for what you’re going to do with all the time you’ll have available after you stop working.

...continue reading "5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Wait Until You Retire to Figure Out What You’re Going to Do"

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Bird taking flight

Do you dream of retiring early? If you can make just a few small changes in your day-to-day life, you can.

Are you concerned that you won’t have enough money saved to retire at all, or that you won’t be able to enjoy the kind of retirement you would like? If you can make just a few small changes in your day-to-day life, you can.

So, what’s the secret to retiring early? It’s simple: save more.

I can already hear you saying, “Well, duh...” But if it’s this simple, why aren’t you (and most people) doing it?

...continue reading "The Simple Secret to Retiring Early – And What’s Stopping You from Doing It"

How many things are you putting off until you retire?

Sure, your life is busy. There never seems to be enough time to do the things you really want to do. It’s easy to think, “When I’m retired, I’ll have all the time I want for <insert activity here>.”

Hiker at Grand Canyon

To an extent, you’re right. You will have a lot more time to do the things you want after you retire. And it’s good to use these things as incentives to help you look forward to retirement and to better plan for it.

But why postpone happiness until sometime in the future? There’s no lifetime quota on happiness and enjoyment – you can have as much as you want. If you put things off for too long, you may never get to do them, or you may no longer have as much physical or mental capacity to do them.

Today I’m going to suggest seven things that people often postpone, thinking that they will be able to devote time and attention to them once they retire. And I’m going to present a case for why it’s in your best interests to start doing them now, rather than wait.

...continue reading "7 Things You Shouldn’t Put Off Until You Retire"

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Balanced Rocks and Sailboat

Do you sometimes find yourself imagining how you’ll fill your days once you no longer have to work?

During those times when you seem so busy there never seems to be time to do what you want, do you say to yourself, “When I retire, I’ll have lots of time to do this!”

On the other hand, maybe you’re more concerned about what you’re going to do with all that free time. You might even fear that you’ll have nothing to do and be bored.

To be sure, some downtime is good for you. Having some relaxation in each day is healthy, and you’ve earned it!

But it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you’ll spend hours every day doing that one thing you really love and don’t have enough time for now. For example, if you’re an avid golfer you might think to yourself, “When I’m retired, I can play golf every day!” Same thing with anything else – hiking, painting, sewing… you name it.

I used to fantasize that retirement would be total leisure – I would just be able to do whatever fun thing I felt like that day, with hardly a care in the world.

I have a huge collection of jazz and Brazilian records, CDs, and videos that I’ve accumulated throughout my adult life. I now have far more music than I could ever listen to in a year. (Downsizing my collection is one thing I’ll get around to “one of these days,” but that will probably be my hardest thing to downsize.)

I used to think that I would spend all day with music playing in the house, enjoying my vast collection. Of course, my husband Jeff, who isn’t nearly as much of a jazz aficionado as I am, wouldn’t care so much for that. But the obvious reality is that spending all day, every day, listening to music would get old quickly.

The best way to ensure that your retirement years are happy, healthy, and fulfilling is to achieve a balance in your activities.  

...continue reading "4 Essential Ingredients of a Balanced Life – in Retirement and Now!"