Okay, we get it. Jobs are changing, salaries aren’t going up and it gets harder and harder to make that slog into the office every day.
But even if you’re close to retirement, you might want to think twice before planning to make your grand exit.
A Motley Fool report points out that there are five very good reasons you might want to reconsider making plans for that long-awaited fishing trip, ski vacation or long laze in the pool at home.
And we’ve added a couple of our own, just to impress on would-be retirees how different retirement is from a workday life and how quickly circumstances can change and require a new course of action.
Back just after the turn of the century—not this one, the last one—American artist Winslow Homer had the great good fortune to write, “With the duckets that I now have safe, I think I will retire at 66 years of age, praise God, in good health.”
Of course, that was then and this is now—Homer, reports the Fool, “planned to retire at age 66 because he felt he had accumulated sufficient funds for retirement.” But Homer actually worked longer than the average American retires these days, it adds, pointing out that recently the average retirement age for Americans was 63.
But then, too, Homer died back in 1910—when it was a lot easier to get to “enough.” So before you decide to follow today’s lower-than-Homer’s retirement age, you might want to think it out again.
The best time to retire, of course, depends on one’s particular circumstances—not just money, but health and even family obligations.
But people do often make plans without taking all these factors into account, and set their sights on a particular age for retirement that may or may not be in their own best interest.
So here, without further ado, are some factors to take into account when jotting down all those reasons in the pro-and-con list:
7. To keep from getting bored.
Yes, avoiding boredom is one of the Fool’s Big Five, although there are certainly plenty of people who would never get bored with all they had to do even if they retired at 50 and lived to be 90.
But for people who defined themselves by their jobs, this is a viable reason not to head out the door on the stroke of “Happy Birthday.”
Some people do get bored in retirement; others never thought about what they might do once they weren’t reporting to an office every day and are at a complete loss once they’re facing that long empty day after breakfast.
Not that it’s a big problem for most people.
According to a 2014 MassMutual survey, just 10 percent of retirees, the Fool says, “found themselves lonely, bored, with a lost sense of purpose, and/or depressed in retirement.” On the other hand, 72 percent “reported feeling quite happy or extremely happy in retirement.”
6. To maintain social contacts.
If you’re a creature of habit—and if that habit is social—you might feel out of the loop, particularly if you had a regular routine of lunch with coworkers, evenings with the company bowling team or a busy day of interacting with all sorts of people.
Rather than feeling isolated, if you stay on the job—or on a job, since there’s no law that says you have to keep working at the same one—you might even find that the opportunity to build a whole new network of friends can be exciting.
5. To play it safe.
The Fool points out that if you don’t like risk, staying on the job past age 66 can keep you from feeling anxious over the possibility of running out of money at a point in your life when it’s a lot harder to make up lost ground.
That way, if life throws you a curve ball, you’ll still have a regular income to throw back—and you’ll sleep better at night.
4. Because you can’t afford to retire at 66.
If the retirement plan balance is low (or nonexistent), you probably already know that retirement isn’t in the cards even at full retirement age.
Leaving the office behind, for example, even at age 66, and then living till 95 can put a serious crimp in your bank account, however big or small it is, when you consider it has to last for another 29 years.
According to the 2017 Retirement Confidence Survey, about 24 percent of workers admit to having less than $1,000 stashed for retirement; 55 percent admitted to less than $50,000. Just 20 percent had managed to approach a more realistic level of savings, at $250,000 or more.
Taking 4 percent out every year, according to the 4 percent rule, from such small balances means they won’t last long—even $400,000 will only get you $16,000 annually.
And if you think Social Security will make it okay, the average person only gets $16,000 from that, too—over the year. Can you make it on $32,000?
3. To have a bigger nest egg.
The longer you work and save for retirement, not only the larger your balance will be, but the less time you’ll have to live on that balance once you do retire.
The retirement account can grow for a longer period of time without being raided, while you might also be able to capitalize on employer-provided health insurance (provided the system doesn’t collapse under the current chaos in Washington) and thus not have to spend as much of that retirement cash on medical expenses.
2. A bigger Social Security check.
For every year between your full retirement age and 70 that you delay, the Fool points out, your payout will grow about 8 percent larger—up to a total of 32 percent larger if you keep working all the way to age 70.
That can turn that monthly check for $2,000 (at age 66) into one for $2,640—a sizeable difference.
1. The unknown.
There’s always the unknown to consider—everything from accidents, illness, divorce and death to volatile financial markets, changes in laws (think health care and taxes), catastrophic weather events that might take out that little retirement villa you’ve been paying on for years and the rise of hitherto-unknown-in-the-U.S. diseases (the Zika virus rises to mind).
There’s no need to turn alarmist, but do consider the potential for unexpected events to upset your retirement plans.
If you work longer, save smarter, and keep abreast of what’s going on in the world, there’s less chance of being surprised by unexpected events even elsewhere in the world that could affect the plans you made maybe years ago for your retirement.
After all, something as unexpected as losing your planned retirement haven to catastrophic storm damage or the danger of infection from Zika (if your kids are having kids, would you want them to visit?) could completely overset your plans and require a complete rethink.
If there’s regular money coming in, it won’t be quite as difficult to switch gears.