Advertisements frame retirement as an extended vacation, brimming with fulfillment of life-long passions and dreams. But for many people, retirement is more like driving on a long trip with question marks posted in places where road signs would help. One of the biggest questions is when to retire.
Furthermore, the “when-to-retire” question has many companions. They often pop up at the same time as the “when” question. Answering some or all of these companion questions sometimes helps uncover the answer to that “biggest question.”
Below are some of the key companion questions to ask. Consider this a checklist guide when planning for your own retirement security:
- Do I have enough money to retire?
- What financial resources will be available?
- Is it best for me/my spouse to start Social Security benefits as soon as possible or to delay taking benefits in order to receive higher payments later on?
- How will age-related changes in my/our health affect retirement?
- Where will I/we get medical benefits?
- Will the finances be sufficient to last for my/our entire lifetime?
- What will be family/household needs during retirement?
- How will I/we be able to realize my/our goals and dreams?
- For how long of a period do I/we need to plan?
- What's likely to change during retirement, and how does that affect my/our plan?
- Have I/we built enough flexibility into my plans?
- Would it be a financially sound move to delay retirement?
Remember: There is no right or wrong answer for everyone. Each person has unique needs, circumstances and retirement goals. A good strategy is to use these questions to spur ideas that fit the specific situation. And don’t be afraid to seek the help of a professional financial adviser to sort through the options.