When to Retire

April 16, 2021

According to a recent MetLife survey, 19% of full-time Baby Boomers said they would need to delay retiring because of COVID-19-related financial challenges. However, in the same survey, 12% said that the pandemic had convinced them to retire earlier, citing reasons such as dissatisfaction with their job or “life is too short.” There’s also a growing movement known as Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE). These workers, mostly highly paid Millennials and Generation Zers, are committed to saving and investing as much as possible and paring non-essential spending to the bone so they can retire in their mid-50s or earlier. Whether you’re hoping to retire in your 50s or plan on working into your 70s, it’s important to evaluate whether you’ll have enough income to last potentially thirty years or more. Start by estimating your life expectancy, which is based on your family history as well as your current physical health and lifestyle habits. Next, consider whether you can delay taking Social Security until age 70, when you’ll earn the maximum benefits. Then calculate how much your 401(k) plan and IRA accounts will be worth at your desired retirement age and estimate how much of an income hit you might take if a bear market drives down the value of your retirement assets by 25% or more when you first start making withdrawals. If there’s a strong possibility that you won’t have enough income from Social Security and your savings, consider whether it makes sense to invest some of your nest egg in an annuity that will provide guaranteed income for life or if you may need to delay retiring or take on a part-time job after you’ve stop working full-time. These are complex issues and the cost of making the wrong choices today could threaten your future financial security. To give you greater peace of mind, consider seeking the advice of a fee-only fiduciary financial planner. These professionals can objectively analyze your current and future spending and income sources, your outstanding debts, and the size and holdings in your retirement accounts to provide a realistic assessment of how likely you are to achieve your retirement goals and what you can do to improve your chances.

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