Deciding when to retire is never easy. You need to have a firm grasp on what your current living expenses are and what your future living expenses may look like. Even then, it’s an exercise that based in the fundamental uncertainty that is life and mortality. Sure, there are certain kinds of data you can use to make informed plans. A family history and honest look at your lifestyle habits can create a personal life expectancy, but you just never know. As my mother used to say, you could get hit by a bus tomorrow. And life expectancy is still just an over/under for when your retirement resources need to last.
Choosing a number and having specific goals can be a great motivational tool, but it’s got to be based on the complete picture including both financial resources and personal priorities. A million dollars is frequently thrown about as a kind of benchmark, but it’s largely a moving target and the number itself can be misleading. For more context, check out these twin online sources….the first one from 2015 makes the argument that a million dollars is no longer enough for retirement, while this one from 1017 makes the argument that it’s still possible to retire happily with less than a million dollars. It really just depends.
Ideally, you’ll be financially secure enough to fully enjoy your retirement while still doing away with the idea that you have an expiration date. A calm stream that never stops moving, that’s a creek that can be maneuvered in old age.
More Thoughts on Retirement
Choosing to retire is never purely a financial decision. Some people are seemingly constitutionally incompatible with retirement. They go out of their minds with restlessness. A lot of us only realize how important feeling useful has become to us until we retire. You may have a plan to fill your time, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to find endless leisure as rewarding as you first imagine.
It’s one thing if you have kids to which you can leave a healthy inheritance, but I’ve always thought retirement plans are even trickier for childless couples. How do you ensure you have enough to stay comfortable in old age, while still leaving it all out on the field? Do you have a cause you’ve always believed in so much that you’ll be happy to leave the bulk of your legacy?