It’s all in the timing

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When is the best time to retire? To be honest – I have no idea.

In the last week a ‘young’ man (60 years old) who I know decided it was the right time for him. He advised me that he is going to slowly transition to retirement by gradually decreasing his working week from five days to four, three, and eventually reaching full retirement by the end of November this year.

I am sure that he is not wealthy enough to live the rest of his life independent of any government support, however, he is married and his wife has advised him that she is very happy to continue to work in her well paid job which she enjoys; making this their eventual main source of income.

Does his decision mean he is lazy? And should be acting more responsibly? Especially for someone of his age.

I am not sure – although it would seem a little harsh and un-just to judge someone who has worked full time since he was 15.

But I was curious about his decision and how he reached it. His reply was interesting – he said, “I just know it is the right time for me.”

When I pressed him for a further explanation he just kept repeating the same answer – he knew it was the right time, and that was that.

He informed me that he is aware that his decision will mean less income coming into the house, and both he and his wife are comfortable with this consequence. He said that they are more than happy to tighten the purse strings to adjust.

It got me thinking about when I will be ready, and to be honest, I have no idea.

At the age of 18 I firmly believed that by my 60th birthday I would be well and truly ready to retire. In just over two months I turn 60 and, let me tell you, I am not ready.

I’m not ready emotionally or financially. Although I do suspect I’m financially more prepared that my friend is, but I am not prepared to make the same sacrifices that he and his wife are.

I can, as I have previously mentioned, make the necessary plans from a financial perspective, and set a target date to retire. This means I would be able to retire without making the required spending sacrifices, but setting a date from an emotional perspective is far more difficult, and completely subjective.

As an example, a good friend of PK – who believed he was ready to retire and did so only to realise that he was not ready emotionally – ended up returning to work a month after retiring.

I suspect my friend, who I spoke about earlier in this post, will also face a time in the near future when work could become an attractive option.

The decision to retire is a very personal one, and as PK and I have always said – it should never be driven by someone else’s definition of what age you are ‘supposed’ to retire. This age is a ‘mythological age’ (such as 65 or 67), and like my friend I believe, for most of us, it will come from within.

But be warned, sometimes the ability to make the decision in your own timeframe, and on your own terms, is beyond your control.

Other life events (some of which you have very little or no control) such as illness or redundancy at an older age can certainly throw a spanner into even the best laid plans.

So it is very important to work, and maintain focus, on the financial requirements of your retirement. In many ways it is the easiest component when preparing for retirement because it is the most tangible.

So remember – you may not be emotionally ready, but if you are forced to retire earlier than expected then meeting your financial requirements will give you the best safety net, and it will also provide your mind with some time to prepare for retirement completely.


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