7 Keys to Determining Your Ideal Retirement Age

It’s the million-dollar question—What is my ideal retirement age? Some people retire earlier than intended because of job loss, personal health or family situations such as the need to care for an elderly parent. Just as circumstances may compel some to retire early, others may find it necessary to work longer than planned because of financial need. Others retire later because they’re still productive and enjoy what they do.

Unfortunately, there’s no magic machine that takes your information and spits out your ideal retirement age. It depends on your unique personal needs and circumstances. But there are some keys to finding the solution that’s right for you.

How’s your health

If you’re in good health, your ideal retirement age may be later. Continuing to work would

  • Give you more time to save money in your 401(k) account and collect the employer match.
  • Shorten the amount of time you have to withdraw money from your savings.
  • Maximize your Social Security benefit.
  • Stay on your employer’s health insurance plan

However, if you’re in poor health, an early retirement age may be best. The question is, can you afford to retire early even though your health is not great. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College estimates the average retiree will spend $4300 every year on medical expenses. And that doesn’t include long-term care.

How long have your ancestors lived

History doesn’t always repeat itself, but it often rhymes. And while looking at ancestry longevity isn’t perfect it can be an indicator. Combining that information with the quality of health of those ancestors may give you guidance about your future.

What kind of work do you do

Physically demanding jobs often push people to earlier retirement ages. Years of hard work take a toll on the body and a decision is made to hang up a career early in order to preserve as much quality of life as possible.

Even if your career has been physically demanding, but you want to continue working, think about ways to use all that experience and knowledge in a different role. Perhaps there’s a management or supervisory role where you work, or you can consult with businesses similar to the one you’ve been working for.

What will you do after you retire

If you’re not sure what you’ll do when you retire, other than have a lot of time on your hands, then retiring at a later age makes sense. The fact is, people need something to do—a reason to get out of bed every day. I’ve had many clients who went back to work to have something to do and to be around people. Many have said, “There’s only so much golf I can play and some many fish I can catch.”

If, on the other hand, your bucket list is so long you’re not sure you’ll get it all done, an earlier retirement age may be ideal for you.

How much do you owe

The answer to that question may decide your retirement age for you. If you’ll be debt free in the foreseeable future, then that may be when you retire. But if that’s not possible, will your savings and sources of income allow you to continue making payments and still live the lifestyle you want. If not, a later retirement age, or winning the lottery, are the most likely possibilities.

Will you have enough savings

It’s not necessarily how much money you have in the bank, but how much income you’ll have after you retire that’s important.

Retirement income typically comes from Social Security, pensions, part-time work and savings, which will have to make up the rest of your needs. If you find yourself with a smaller retirement nest egg than you need to maintain/sustain your standard lifestyle:

  • Increase your retirement contributions
  • If you’re over 50, take advantage of catch-up contributions to your 401(k) and IRA
  • Rework your budget
  • Determine needs versus wants
  • Delay retirement

How much will you receive from Social Security

Social Security is a major factor in most retirees’ income. But Social Security is designed to replace about 40 per cent of the average person’s pre-retirement income. So, if you need a larger payout from Social Security, you’re most likely looking at an older retirement age.

For every year you delay receiving Social Security between your Full Retirement Age (FRA) and age 70, the amount of your Social Security benefit goes up by 8 percent each year. That means you may get as much as 32 percent more by waiting until 70 to begin your benefits.

What’s your ideal retirement age? Only you can answer that question. But these 7 keys can help point you in the right direction.

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