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Retirement Ahead Sign Green highway sign with words Retirement Ahead with blue sky background



On a recent trip to Wal-Mart, I ran into a lucky bastard, er, former co-worker who retired in 2007. He said he couldn’t believe that he’d been gone from the company for eight years. Outwardly, he looked exactly the same as he did when he was still working. He wasn’t thinner or heavier. He had the same amount of hair. He was even dressed the same way.

“How about you?” he asked, “When are you going to retire?”

I must admit I didn’t have an answer, snappy or otherwise, ready for him. Do I look like someone on the verge of retiring? I kind of laughed in a nervous way and shuffled my feet a bit. Finally, as I was trying to come out with something, the vegan spouse chimed in with, “Not soon enough!” My former co-worker said that you’ll wake up one day and you’ll just know that it’s time.

I feel like I’ve been thinking about retirement ever since my Dad (bless him) dragged me to a bank not long after graduating college to open up an individual retirement account (IRA). With all those years to plan, you’d think that I would have a date written down on a slip of paper tucked away in the back of my closet.

Another co-worker I know has a retirement countdown on his phone. Kind of like the website xmasclock tells you how far we are from Christmas. Not only does he have the date picked out, he can tell you right down to the second how far away it is. That’s fine for him, but I’m wary of putting a date out there and then getting cold feet.

I’ve worked in human resources too long to know that not everyone retires when they say they’re going to. “Two years from now” can become three or even four years from now. “When I’m 65” can turn into 66. We recently had one of our departments leap into a succession planning frenzy when a manager told his new boss he planned to retire in “2-4 years”.

We also have plenty of people who plug away year after year without even whispering the word retirement. They blow right past age 65 and no one even notices. Then, before you know it, they’ve turned 68 and then 70. If you’re not thinking about retirement at 70, when will you start thinking about it?

There are so many variables that go into the retirement decision, it’s not easy to know when to pull the trigger. Finances aside, how is your health and the health of your spouse? Will you remain in your current home or will you relocate, maybe even out of the area? Perhaps most important, are you mentally prepared to not get up five days a week and go to work? How will you fill up your time?

Both my father and father-in-law retired at 59. I don’t hear much about people retiring early these days. There was a time when workers retired with a pension and paid health insurance, but, sadly, those days are pretty much gone. The cost of health insurance alone can cause people to put off retirement for several years.

What is the right age to retire? Full social security benefits have already started sliding past age 65. At work, we’ve had three people retire this year and all were 67. Some politicians would like to keep us working till we’re 70. As for me, I’m hoping that, with enough money in the bank and decent health, I’ll just wake up one day and I’ll know.

Are you ready for retirement?  Please leave a comment…