Retirement planning isn’t just about financial planning. A happy retirement rests on you being ready, from both an emotional and a financial point of view. While you save for retirement your entire life, there are always going to unexpected expenses that come into play that could affect your personal finance, once you’re without a regular salaried income.
The following questions will help you to assess your readiness for retirement, whether you can take early retirement or you need to continue until full retirement age.
Take a few moments to answer the following questions. When you are finished, you should be able to identify certain signs that you’re ready to retire or you’ve still got some fuel left in the tank.
When considering retirement, it’s important to know if your retirement income is enough to support yourself once you’re not being paid a monthly wage. You must ask yourself:
Do you still hold a mortgage on your current home, or is it paid off?
If you still have a mortgage and plan to stay in your home, will you be able to manage the mortgage and maintenance expenses without the benefit of your current position?
If you plan to sell your home to help finance your retirement, are you aware of its value in today’s market?
Do you have a clear idea of your personal financial needs in retirement?
Have you worked up a post-retirement budget?
Have you taken into account the possibility of a few unexpected expenses?
Have you enquired about claiming social security benefits for which you may be eligible?
Are you willing and able to work on a part-time basis, if needed, to maintain your financial health after leaving full-time employment?
The Pensions Advisory Service
Your emotions are part of your long term care, but it’s not just yours you need to think about.
Have you considered how you will spend your free time?
Many retirees find themselves at a loss within a few months of retirement, wondering how to occupy themselves now that they are no longer working every day.
Are you able to define yourself in terms that are not career related?
After years of working, it's not uncommon to think of oneself as merely their job title, but such a mindset can make it difficult to comfortably move on to the next stage in life. Some retirees find that by volunteering their time to a favoured cause, they can meet their need for making a difference without the sometimes harsh restraints of managing a career.
Do you have a strong support system of friends and/or family members?
Socialising is important for happiness and mental well-being, so it’s vital that retirees make an effort to maintain bonds with those closest to them. For those who have few close relationships outside of the workplace, joining clubs or participating in hobbies with like-minded folks can help fill the void left by missing ex-coworkers.
Have you taken some time to think about your life after retirement?
Failing to have a plan of action can result in dissatisfaction with the very state that you worked so hard to achieve. If you have a spouse or are in a committed relationship, have you considered how the change in your working status may impact your partner and your relationship? It's common for people to fall into comfortable routines and when one or both partners experience a significant life change, it can cause a bit of temporary discord.
Once you have got a realistic picture of where you currently stand, you're in a position to make smart choices that will help to ensure a happy and secure retirement.
If you've considered the points above and you conclude that you are indeed ready to join the ranks of the permanently and happily retired, congratulations! You’ve earned the right to relax and enjoy your retirement.
However, if reading through the points above makes you uneasy about your readiness to retire, take time to reconsider your options. Being aware of the areas that you feel may be problematic offers you the opportunity to take steps to be better prepared.
Take away points:
Decide if you're able to retire from a financial point of view
Plan activities to keep you busy
Think about how retirement will affect you emotionally