When, if ever, will I be able to retire?
For too many people it is not a matter of WHEN they will be able to retire but HOW.
A decade ago the big decision was whether to retire early, say 58, or work till 62 when Social Security kicked in. Now the decision grid has been expanded to include not just a timing decision, but also a contingency plan involving these questions:
The problem for many workers and business owners is that retirement may not be voluntary. So the WHEN may be taken out of your hands. It then becomes a matter of what standard of living you will be able to maintain. This is what retirement advisors call "YOYO" retirement, meaning "You’re On Your Own."
With so many unknowns and unknowables it is not possible to give a clear general answer to the retirement question. In today’s world when we develop an evaluation for a client preparing a near-term retirement we have to approach the answer differently than in the past. First we get acquainted and find out about the client’s goals and objectives. Then we seek alternative retirement solutions to project how to obtain as much of the desired result will be feasible given the client’s resources.
Rather than providing a single analysis, we often need to show a range of possible outcomes based on various spending levels and economic scenarios. It is extremely important that our retirement solutions be as realistic as possible. So, we do not have a yes or no answer to the question of whether or not a person can retire. More often we show them how they might fare if they are willing to make a range of lifestyle tradeoffs. We also suggest they build in contingency plans to allow them to adapt if circumstances require it.
Remember retirement is not just a project, process or event. It is about how you and your family will spend the rest of your life. The decisions you make are among the most important you will ever make in your life. In retirement, failure is not an acceptable option.
The bottom line is this: yes, you may be able to retire at any time, but you may not be able to live the way you want. It is imperative that you take the time and make effort to develop your contingency plans so you can make the most of your retirement whenever it occurs.