Ready, Set, Retire!

by Jeff C. Johnson

There are three dates that people tend to take retirement. Any guesses?

The first is their birthday … I’ll retire when I hit 65, they say.

Or they make their last day coincide with the completion of a certain number of years of service. “I’ll quit after 20 years!”

The last popular day is January 1 or some other time early in the year. I’ll finish the year out … so it’s January, and maybe you just retired or are thinking about it.

People talk about retiring a lot. I hear them, and I know they are not thinking clearly about retirement, or at least a lot of the time they aren’t because they just don’t know what it is really like.

First of all, let me claim my perspective, not as someone who has ever retired but as a close friend and adviser to hundreds, probably thousands, of people that have ventured into life-after-work.

Here’s what I want you to know after reading this post. Retirement might not be what you think it is. My advice is to think it over carefully, and if you’re among the 90% of the population that hasn’t mastered money management on your own, don’t try it now (though many, many people do try).

For now, answer this question: What will you do with your time?

In my book The Extreme Retirement Planning Workbook, the second chapter goes right into “Are You Really Ready to Retire?” 

Print out a copy of the Model Week Worksheet (from chapter two of the book) and fill in a model week, deciding what you will do with your time and considering what’s really important to you. Be very clear on the nonfinancial side of retirement before you spend much time structuring the financial foundation; you need to understand your future lifestyle before thinking about how much money you will need. 

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Final thought: My friend, who I’ll call “Bob,” told me over lunch that his biggest mistake was the time of year he retired. His advice is … always retire in the spring so you have plenty of spring and summer to set a fast-paced lifestyle for retirement.