The question " when can I retire " is often asked ... sometimes from the first day of work!
The answer is simple ... it's completely up to you.
If you believe Pablo Casals who said "to retire is to die" the answer would probably be "not now, I'd rather stick around for awhile!"
So although you can choose to "retire" whenever you want to … a successful retirement is best achieved through careful planning. If you take control and achieve your pre-set goals you'll have a purposeful and gratifying retirement... not just another helpless retirement victim.
What does retire mean?
The Webster's Dictionary definition of retirement, is the "withdrawal from one's position or occupation or from active working life."
However this definition doesn't fully reflect the current generation of retired and retiring people.
Retirement today often implies that you're just leaving something that has been your primary involvement and moving on to something else. So terms such as semi-retirement are used to try and clarify the murky definition.
Different things to different people
Today "retire" means a lot of different things to different people.
For me, you can consider yourself retired from the time you make decision thatyou will have enough money to live your chosen lifestyle till the end of your life. When you can answer the question " when can I retire " ... "right now".
From that time on you are indulging your choices. It is the end of "having to work". Whatever you now choose to do will not be for the money but for the self fulfillment or fun.
From that point what you do will be defined by simple criteria;
- Things that I enjoy
- As often (or as seldom) as I want to
- When I want to
- From wherever I want to
Arbitrary retirement ages
In most countries they have set official arbitrary retirement ages.
These are now becoming the subject of heated political debate as the state realises it wont be able to meet its previous promises. Increased life expectancy will have a severe impact on the affordability of social security and medical benefits.
Anyway aren't these arbitrary ages illogical? Aren't many people in the prime of their lives at this age? In some countries the official retirement age for women is lower than for men ... although they are expected to live longer!
As well as being financially ready for retirement one should also be psychologically ready. It is important that all aspects of your " when can I retire " decision are considered as you work through your retirement plan. The boundless retirement jokes and stories are a clear lesson to anyone to be properly prepared for retirement.
So " when can I retire? " can be whenever you want it to be. The timing is up to you.
"The question isn't at what age I want to retire, it's at what income" ~ George Foreman
External reasons may trigger retirement
The " when can I retire " may also be triggered by some external factor:
- Business downsizing or restructuring and you are offered an incentive to retire early
- You have earned enough pension credits or have reached a service benchmark, such as 25, 30 or 35 years of employment service
- Desire for for a lifestyle change. You may be tired of the grind or not satisfied with your current job
- Poor health or an injury
Without careful, ongoing planning very few people will be able to retire without financial concerns, without having to work longer, without getting another job or being forced into a degraded lifestyle.
So ideally you should ask the question " when can I retire " as early as possible in your working life. If you do this and manage your plan well, you will be on the road to a stress free and enjoyable retirement.
The later you leave it, the harder it becomes.
The best time for starting your plan was yesterday ... if you didn't then start today.