There’s a pretty good chance that your parents and grandparents retired just because they turned 65. Today’s retirement is a bit more complicated than that. While age is still an important factor, your ability to connect your financial resources to your lifestyle goals is what will truly determine if you’re ready to retire.
Here are three important markers to cross before you crack open your nest egg:
1. You're Financially ready
The most common question we field from our clients is, “How much do I need to retire?” While there’s no magic number to hit, a few key checkpoints are:
You have a budget and a spending plan
Many clients who are preparing to retire tell us they’ve never kept a budget before. Time to start! If you have any big plans for early in your retirement, like remodelling your home, a dream holiday, or a new car then creating a spending plan will allow you to have comfort to spend and front-load your annual withdrawal rate.
Your debts are paid
No, you don’t necessarily need to pay off a fixed-rate mortgage before you retire. But try to reduce or eliminate credit card balances and any other loans that are charging you interest.
Your age, retirement accounts, and other investments are all in-sync
If you’re planning on retiring early, be sure that your retirement accounts won’t penalise you, particularly if you have any defined benefit pensions. Get to know what your state pension forecast is, when you can get it and if you can top it up to get the maximum benefit. Make sure you have a diversified allocation to a variety of tax wrappers such as ISAs, Pensions, General Investment Accounts and Bonds.
2. You're Emotionally Ready
We spend so much of our lives working that our jobs become a large part of our identities. Rediscovering who we are once we stop working can be a major retirement challenge. To prepare for this emotional transition:
Talk to your spouse ahead of time
Don’t wait until your last day of work to discuss how both of you feel about retirement. What do each of you imagine life will be like? What are the things you’re excited to do? What are you afraid of? What can each of you do to make this new phase of life as fulfilling as possible?
Make a list
What are the things you’re passionate about? Something you’ve always wished you knew more about? A skill you’d like to develop? A cause that’s important to you? An ambitious business idea that was too ambitious for your former employer?
Check that your estate plan is in order
It’s understandable that many people avoid this part of their retirement planning. But putting together a legacy that could impact your family and community for generations can have tremendous emotional benefits. The peace of mind that comes from knowing the people you care about are taken care of can empower you to worry a little less and enjoy your retirement more.
3. You’re ready to do new things.
Ideally, the financial piece of this conversation should make you feel free enough to create a new retirement schedule based on the emotional piece. Plan your days around the people and passions that get you out of bed in the morning. Some ideas:
Work at something you love
Take a part-time job at a company that interests you. Turn that crazy idea you couldn’t sell to your old boss into your own business. Consult. Teach. Volunteer.
Brush up your high school French by enrolling in an online course. Learn some basic web design so you can showcase your photography portfolio or create an online store for your crafts. Sign up for cooking classes and get some new meals in your weekly rotation.
Get better at having fun
What’s the best way to lower your handicap or perfect your backhand? Take lessons from a pro. The second best? Organise weekly games with friends and family.
Planning out a big holiday can be a fun project for couples to do to together. And while you’re looking forward to that dream trip, take a few weekend jaunts out of town. Stay at the new bed and breakfast you keep hearing about. Visit your grandkids. Go on the road with a favourite sports team and enjoy the local flavour in a different city.
If you’re nearing retirement and struggling with these issues, working through my FREE retirement toolkit might provide some clarity.
Let’s discuss how we can help get you ready for the best retirement possible with the money you have.