Retirement is a little like jumping off a cliff into the deep blue sea of the rest of your life―it’s scary, exciting and there’s no turning back. When you’re smack in the middle of the “can i retire?” conversation, you’re usually focused on how much money you’ll need, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
What’s the Average Retirement Age?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average retirement age in the U.S. is 62, and life expectancy at birth today is 78.8 years. That means there’s a good chance you’re going to have at least 16 years of unstructured time on your hands once you retire. So, while you’re busy wondering “how much do I need to retire?” you should also start thinking about what you’re going to do with your days. And if you’re considering early retirement, you’ll have even more time on your hands!
Can I Swing an Early Retirement?
Since it’s fresh on your mind, we’ll start by addressing, “how much do I need to retire?” If you’re planning on retiring at age 62 or earlier, you’ll be in good shape if you have a savings and the ability to maintain a budget. Don’t think you’ll have that kind of security? You should probably set your sights on working past the average retirement age. Considering that we’re living longer than ever, putting off retirement until age 70 or later means you’ll worry less and relax more once you get there. If you’re thinking about retirement, here are some tips that will help you ease into it:
- Start planning now. Figure out how much you’ll need to spend each year, build up cash reserves, and begin consolidating any retirement accounts to make things easier to manage.
- Think of the benefits. Look into how you’re going to pay for healthcare costs if you don’t qualify for Medicare, and evaluate when to start Social Security, so you can make better spending projections.
Not Exactly Ready to Ask “Can I Retire?”
- Take a sabbatical.
If you’re one of the many who still have a passion for their job, you might not be wondering if you can retire. At the same time, you may have a bucket list of things to do with your time and money before you die. If that sounds like you, start easing into retirement with a sabbatical during your career. This will go a long way toward giving you a taste of what’s to come when you’re no longer working.
- Phase in retirement.
Maybe you’re over the retirement age, but still unsure of taking the leap. You can ease into it by cutting back your hours by 12 hours per week initially, which gives you the opportunity to figure out how to fill your free time before you’re yawning at an empty calendar.
How Much (Planning) Do I Need to Retire?
As mentioned, you’re going to have a lot of free time on your hands in retirement. Start thinking today about how you will make the most of it. A little inspiration:
- Look into volunteering
- VIsit friends and family
- Plan lunch dates
- Write your memoir or a novel
- Start a blog
- Become a teacher or mentor
- Learn a foreign language
- Learn to play a musical instrument
When all is said and done, your retirement age is just a number―it’s your retirement plan that makes all the difference. So, plan wisely!