Last week, I wrote an article listing all the reasons why 2021 isn't the best time to retire. I cited points like economic uncertainty, a raging pandemic, and a change in routine that could result in mental stress.
But then I sat down and thought about it some more, and I realized that in many regards, 2021 could actually be a great time to retire. Here are a few reasons why I've had a change of heart.
1. The stock market is holding steady
Plunging stock values are bad news for near-retirees, because if you're forced to dip into your IRA or 401(k) plan while it's down, you'll risk permanently locking in those losses. But right now, stock values are high, and while we don't know what 2021 has in store for the market, there's no particular reason to think we'll be heading for an imminent crash. Sure, there's that whole pandemic issue to think about, but stock values managed to stay high as cases soared during the holidays, so even if things don't improve with respect to the outbreak anytime soon, it may not impact your retirement portfolio.
2. It may not be safe to continue working
Unless you have a job that can be done remotely, going to work isn't the safest prospect right now -- especially with coronavirus cases surging and a new, more easily transmissible variant of the virus popping up in corners of the country. If you decide to leave the workforce, you'll have the option to hunker down and ride out the next few months rather than potentially put your health at risk.
3. You could use one less thing to worry about
Living through a pandemic is a stressful enough thing without having job-related deadlines to get anxious over. If you retire this year, you'll take one source of worry off the table, and that could work wonders for your mental health.
4. Vaccines could give you more options
So far, the coronavirus vaccine rollout in the U.S. has been slower than expected, but things could pick up in the next few months. And if you're older, it means you may be able to skip the line and get vaccinated ahead of the general population. That could, in turn, give you more options about how to spend the early part of your retirement. Last week, I argued that there's little sense in retiring just to get stuck at home, bored out of your mind. But if you manage to get vaccinated relatively early on in the year, it could make things like travel and entertainment outside the home more feasible.
Should you retire this year?
The decision to retire in 2021 or not will boil down to a number of factors -- your age (which will impact your Social Security benefits), your current level of savings, and your feelings toward your job, to name a few. You may decide that now's not the right time to leave the workforce behind, and that's fine. But you may also come to the conclusion that 2021 is a great year to retire, and if that's the decision you land on, you should feel confident in it.