Turning age 65 does not necessarily mean you are ready to retire. Hitting a certain age neither guarantees nor necessitates retirement. Your retirement should begin when you determine you are ready and able to do so, regardless of how long you have lived. Here's how to tell if you are not quite ready to retire:
You cannot financially swing it. If you have done an analysis of your expected inflow and outflow of retirement funds and are running in the red, retiring now is not a good idea. In a 2014 Employee Benefit Research Institute survey, only 18 percent of workers say they are very confident they have enough money saved for a comfortable retirement. Unfortunately, there is no easy fix. If you work full time it is hard to find much time or energy at the end of the day to dedicate to improving your financial situation. Taking on a weekend gig means your family and mental down time must be sacrificed. Some people build their own business in hopes it will generate additional income. But many people will find themselves forced to remain on the job longer than they had hoped as they struggle to save enough for a comfortable retirement. If you are employed and have medical coverage along with a steady income to help pay the bills, do you want to assume those responsibilities before you have to?
You don't have enough interests and activities. Although many people plan for retirement from a financial perspective, too few look at the rest of the picture. You will also need to entertain yourself, find a new purpose and avoid becoming bored. If you wait until you are retired to begin figuring out what to do with your time, you are making it unnecessarily difficult on yourself. A better course is to try different things and test the waters ahead of time. Revisit the activities that you were once interested in and might choose to continue in retirement. Imagine there is nothing on your calendar for the coming week. How would you occupy yourself? Now multiply that by about 20 years to understand what you have in store. That's how much time you need to fill.
You enjoy your job. A reader of my blog recently commented, "I could probably retire now, but continuing to work seems the easiest path to follow. I am in the curious position of enjoying what I do and getting paid for it." If you are fortunate enough to actually like what you do for a living, leaving just because you reach a certain age may not be such a good idea. As long as you remain on the job, you are able to maintain the relationships with co-workers that some people find hard to replace in retirement. Spending time with friends at work can make up for some of the less-than-desirable aspects of the job. And if you really enjoy what you are doing, what are you retiring from? If you like working, you should feel no rush to call it quits before you are ready to do so.
You haven't yet planned for the future. Many of us are focused on just getting to retirement and have not thought much about what comes next. It can be a mistake to roll into retirement expecting everything will take care of itself. A fulfilling retirement does not just happen. If you want to get the most out of your days you need a little initiative, creativity and willingness to try new things. Retirement is an exit from the working world, but also the beginning of a new phase of life.
Most of your friends and family are still working. Retirement can be difficult if the people you most want to spend your time with are busy with their jobs. You have the time to do whatever you want, but they are still punching the clock. Don't be surprised to find that your sudden freedom might cause a bit of envy in others not so lucky. While you are free to have fun, they are stuck in their corporate role. With most of your social network busy at work, what do you plan to do? Living a leisurely second act while your friends and family are overwhelmed with work can prove difficult.
You are not ready to be alone. Many employed people are perpetually busy. Once you retire you are responsible for filling your days with activities. If you don't make the effort to set up social engagements, you could end up spending a lot of your time alone. For some people it is a blessing to have enough time alone to pursue individual interests. But other people do not do so well without the companionship of others. It helps to know prior to retiring if you enjoy spending extended periods of time alone. I have a lot of interests that fill my day while my wife is working or otherwise occupied. But if you are happiest when relating to others, a solo retirement can be difficult.
Dave Bernard is the author of "I Want To Retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be". Although not yet retired, he focuses on identifying and understanding the essential components of a fulfilling and meaningful retirement. He shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only The Beginning.
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