The Big Retirement Questions | Association of American Pension Professionals and Actuaries


Over the past few months, I’ve received a lot of praise and congratulations about my “retirement” (and a little less skeptical about my understanding of the term). .

That question has become popular with the general public as topics like “What are your plans?”, “Are you planning to move?” It happens quite simply, “How do you know when you’re going to retire?”

Honestly, this is a complicated question and the answer is very personal. Of course, for many it’s not their choice. Research shows that for significant minorities, timing is imposed by external factors. Dismissal, disability, or possibly caregiver liability. None of these were factors in my decision, but first, it’s worth keeping in mind that you can’t always control “when.”

For most people, this person included, the calendar plays an important role. At 65, he’s one of those milestone markers that people (and planning documents) still “anchor.” I say “yet” because today’s retiree’s full retirement age under Social Security is no longer 65. I retired to claim Social Security, but when I looked at that decision point, I had the Social Security marker in mind. remains to some extent.

Regardless of age (or Social Security) considerations, a big focus of my retirement time has been on finances. much more accurate as you get closer to actual retirement than before). That said, it’s still something of a fluid target, given things like high gas prices and renewed inflation. We tend to live within a known salary range and often (but not always) strive to keep up with such things. When contemplating the uncertain ‘certainty’ of a more or less ‘fixed’ income, well, when looking at a financial future that is likely to take 20 years or more, even the most far-sighted crystal ball has a little Blurry.

Of course, everything starts with a baseline. My wife’s spreadsheet and budgeting skills made it easy to estimate baseline costs after work-related costs (including 401(k) contributions, etc.) were gone. , a sort of cushion for travel we think of, and some ‘new’ considerations regarding health etc. Care.[1]

With that financial floor established, it was just “seeing” the usual sources of income.[2] We had to cover those costs. We were lucky in that regard. Build a regular post-retirement income stream that exceeds baseline costs while maintaining a larger pool of retirement savings that we set aside throughout our working careers for the distant future beyond our baseline I was able to do.

At that point, we were dealing with a major roadblock for many — knowing we could afford to step away from that regular paycheck and maintain our current lifestyle. , it wasn’t the first time we ran these estimates — doing so allowed us to set savings goals over the years — but the calendar offered a particular focus on timing. .

And then COVID hit.

It turned out to be a complicated blessing. For all the horrifying things that go with the pandemic, it gave me and my wife a long time together in close quarters for (then) 35 years.Our nest was empty, but the two had her four-legged child. It affirmed the comfort of knowing that I could not only be satisfied with our relationship, but also happy to be at home. Without a doubt, if there’s one big regret that retirees mention, it’s that they weren’t ready to commit to household chores (let alone their spouses). COVID has given me a real preview of that experience — and even with constant Zoom and Teams call interruptions (or maybe because of them?) — I’m… ready I could say that it was done.

So how do you know when to retire? Well, for my money (literally), I need an interest, a motivation, so that I don’t ask for too much “must do”. That way, you can spend more time doing what you love to do. Of course, it doesn’t have to be age-related, but the ongoing obligations of life may necessitate the postponement of the latter for the benefit of the former.

By that point, you also need to figure out the money. Because what you want to do might not put food on your table or on the roof overhead. It’s easy to get caught up in the pace of work and life. Also, it’s easy to put off another chance to “smell the roses”. Especially if you love and enjoy your work.

Finally, it is very important to have the right mindset ready to step outside the W-2 employment structure. This means having people, interests, and hobbies that can (and will continue to be) provide meaning, fulfillment, and joy to your next job. chapter of life.

For me, this new chapter is just beginning — and, for the most part, I’ll admit that I’m not retired at all. And I’m working on it.


[1] We didn’t appreciate it at first, but so far, the Medicare plan has proven to be the most stressful one because, although coverage is surprisingly good, Premiums are income-based, and Medicare starts with the last official income number, 1040 AGI … from two years ago. Needless to say (besides Medicare) my retirement income is less than he was two years ago.

[2] I (finally) integrated my 401(k). I’m happy to say that depositing these savings has become much more efficient over the years. one of the reasons I postponed the integration). To get to you via US mail (although you can pay a ridiculous premium to expedite that delivery) — unless it rolls over to an IRA on the platform.

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