Though many workers look forward to retirement and the change of pace it typically brings about, deciding when to pull the trigger can be quite the stressful endeavor. Not only does retirement have financial implications, but it can affect your emotional wellbeing as well. Before you choose to retire, take some time to think about whether you're really ready to embrace this particular milestone.
Are you financially ready?
Though you may be itching to leave your job and enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle, your plan could backfire if you're not financially prepared for what lies ahead. The Economic Policy Institute reports that more than 40% of baby boomers nearing retirement have absolutely no savings to show for. And of those who have begun building a nest egg, households aged 56 to 61 have a median savings balance of just $17,000.
Now you may be thinking: "Well, that's OK, because I have my Social Security benefits to fall back on." And that may very well be the case. But the average American retiree cannot survive on Social Security alone.
Contrary to what you may have been led to believe, Social Security is only designed to replace about 40% of the typical worker's pre-retirement income. Furthermore, the average current recipient collects just $1,360 a month, or $16,320 per year, in benefits. But according to the latest projections, the average healthy 65-year-old couple today will spend at least $400,000 on healthcare costs throughout retirement. Over a 20-year period, that's $20,000 per couple, or $10,000 per individual, per year. If you're counting on Social Security in the absence of additional savings or income, that leaves you with a mere $6,320 per year, or $527 a month, to cover your remaining bills once medical care is accounted for. And that's just not enough.
Before you make your retirement official, take a look at your savings and see whether you're in a strong enough financial position to stop working. You may need to extend your career several years to catch up on savings, or come up with a plan to generate income during retirement. Many seniors, for example, work part-time to supplement their Social Security benefits, while others use retirement as an opportunity to start a business. And either option may very well suffice in compensating for a non-existent IRA or 401(k). The key, however, is to understand how much income you'll need to cover the bills as a retiree, and make sure you have a means of hitting that target before leaving the workforce for good.
Are you emotionally ready?
It's one thing to be financially prepared for retirement, but don't discount the mental upheaval that might ensue once you leave your career behind you. Though many seniors look forward to the downtime they've been missing during their working years, you may come to find that your newly unstructured existence throws you for an emotional loop. In fact, according to the Institute of Economic Affairs, retirees are 40% more likely to suffer from clinical depression than younger Americans are,, and a big reason has to do with that loss of purpose, so to speak, in life.
Before you decide to retire, figure out how you'll spend your days, and whether you're likely to have the income to support the lifestyle you're hoping for. Otherwise, there's a good chance you'll quickly succumb to boredom, which could be detrimental to your emotional and, eventually, physical health.
Of course, keep in mind that you don't necessarily need a million-dollar nest egg to enjoy a fulfilling retirement. Many seniors get pleasure of out volunteering, exploring local attractions, and spending time with family. But if you're the type of person who needs constant stimulation, you may come to find that you're just not ready for your career to end.
Retiring at the wrong time could be disastrous for both your health and finances. Before you make the decision to retire, think about the pros and cons of exiting the workforce permanently -- because the last thing you want to do is make a move you'll come to regret for the rest of your life.