Professionals work hard to achieve both short- and long-term goals. Retirement certainly qualifies as a long-term goal, and many people spend decades building and investing in a nest egg that they hope will help them enjoy their golden years to the fullest extent.
The decision regarding when to retire is affected by a host of variables, so what’s a good time for one individual may not be ideal for another. However, professionals on the cusp of retirement can consider these tips as they try to pick the right time to retire.
• Consider age-related benefits. Both the United States and Canada feature government-sponsored retirement income programs and it behooves individuals to familiarize themselves with the rules of those programs so they can maximize their benefits. The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) allows individuals to begin receiving full CPP benefits at age 65, but they also can get a permanently reduced amount the moment they turn 60. The CPP also allows people to receive a permanent increase if they wait until turning 70 to receive payment. Similar age-related rules govern the Social Security benefits program in the United States, where individuals can begin claiming benefits at age 62, though those benefits will be reduced by 25 percent. If individuals wait until they’re 66 or, in some cases, 67, to claim Social Security benefits, they will receive their full benefits. The Social Security Administration notes that those who can wait until age 70 to claim benefits will receive as much as 132 percent of the monthly benefit they would have received at full retirement age.
These distinctions are significant, especially for people who will be looking to government-sponsored programs to provide significant financial support in retirement. Individuals who won’t rely as heavily on such programs may be able to retire earlier.
• Pay off your debts. Carrying debt into retirement can be risky. In general, it’s ideal to pay off all debts, including a mortgage and car payment, before retiring. Doing so can provide more financial flexibility and make it easier to manage unforeseen expenses, such as those incurred due to health problems.
• Consider your retirement living expenses.
It goes without saying that a sizable nest egg will be a necessity for anyone hoping to live comfortably in retirement. But the tricky part is figuring just how big a nest egg might need to be. In such instances, individuals can speak with a financial advisor and discuss what their retirement living expenses will be. Conventional wisdom based on the Consumer Price Index suggests individuals will need to replace between 70 and 80% of their pre-retirement income after calling it a career. But even that figure is not set in stone, as rising inflation, such as the rapid spike experienced in 2022, can quickly put retirees in financial jeopardy. By estimating the expenses they might have in retirement, individuals can begin to see just how close or far away from retirement they may be. Budget for inflation so any spike in living expenses can be easier to manage.
Many individuals recognize that there’s no perfect time to retire. But a few simple strategies can help professionals make the best decision possible.