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Ready or Not: How to Know if You’re Prepared to Retire Full-Time

Retirement is a stage in life that we think about long in advance. Many of us have been planning and dreaming about it for decades. And, with the recent COVID-19 stay-at-home mandate, you likely experienced a test-drive of what retirement may feel like. There are many reasons to embrace retirement. For some of us, the idea of retiring comes with doubt and possibly even fear.  

Many of us wrestle with when - when is the right moment to leave the rat race behind for a life of relaxation. Whether you are ready to retire fully will depend on many factors, both emotional and financial. If you’re currently planning for retirement or wondering if it’s time to make the move, read on.

In this post, we’ll point out some of the signs that indicate you’re not ready for full-time retirement just yet. 

Your Life Revolves Around Work 

Does your professional life consume you? Is your identity mostly based around what you do for a living? In a world that values the primacy of work, many of us derive value, meaning, and to some extent, our sense of self, from our jobs. 

Consider the following:

  • Your friends and acquaintances are all people from your place of employment
  • All social functions you participate in are work-related
  • Work has always come before vacations
  • You think about your job even when you’re not there

If any of these sounds like you, it might be a sign that you’re not quite ready to retire (at least not full-time) It’s great when your job is satisfying, but it’s also important to remember the importance of a healthy work-life balance, especially as you begin approaching your retirement years. 

Millions of Americans over the age of sixty-five work part-time or pursue other additional income streams, finding it to be both a rewarding and lucrative way to ease into full-time retirement. In the meantime, make an effort to expand your social circle. Try to make friends outside of work and increase your interaction with folks who are already retired. 

You Don’t Have Interests or Hobbies 

One of the joys of retirement is having more time to pursue your interests--but what if you don’t have any? 

If your whole life has revolved around work, raising children, or pleasing others, you may have neglected to develop hobbies and interests of your own. As wealth management advisors, we’ve seen it many times - people work hard, they save their entire lives, and then retire only to realize - they don’t really know what their idea of “fun” is! 

We want to clear one thing up right now - retirement isn’t all about the money. For sure, feeling financially secure is important, and working with a financial advisor will help you to make certain that you “have enough”. But a successful retirement is about creating a life that makes you feel happy, healthy, and fulfilled. It’s about figuring out what’s important to you and building that into your retirement lifestyle. 

Find some ways to bring enjoyment and vibrance to your retirement lifestyle:

Your Home Life is Out of Balance

When you retire, time is the one resource you’ll have more of. Typically, that means more time spent with your partner. You and your spouse will rely on each other for emotional support, entertainment, and understanding during this time of transition

For many couples, retirement is a time to reconnect and appreciate each other. But retirement can also cause friction or exacerbate a tenuous partnership. If your relationship with your spouse is not strong or your home life is out of balance, retirement will magnify those issues. 

Taking time to find honest answers to these questions will help you find a balance in your relationship and help set you both up for success:

  • Do you rely heavily on your spouse for daily living activities, such as eating and entertainment? 
  • Do you each have friends and relationships independently of each other?
  • What activities do you enjoy doing together?
  • Are you on the same page about the kind of retirement lifestyle you desire?

Some couples in retirement have found they needed time apart or short breaks from each other -- and that’s ok! 

Allowing yourself and your partner to develop hobbies and relationships independent from each other can have a positive effect on your relationship and your overall retirement lifestyle. Depending on your situation, couples counseling could be another productive way to work on improving your relationship.

You’re Not Financially Prepared

Aside from the emotional changes, retiring comes with major financial implications. You need to know what your financial future will look like once you stop collecting a paycheck.

When you think about your personal savings, do you feel confident and relaxed, or do your palms get sweaty as the wave of anxiety washes over you? Hint: if you own few or no financial assets and you dream of winning the lottery to make up for it, you probably aren’t ready to retire. 

To get a clearer picture of your retirement-readiness, take stock of the following: 

  • Your personal retirement plan - Do you have one, and if so, how diverse are your financial assets?
  • Ideal retirement lifestyle - Whether it’s extravagant or simple, be honest with yourself about the type of lifestyle you desire.
  • The state of your personal savings - Are you still trying to grow your nest egg? 
  • Any and all debts that you may still be working to pay down - Many people hesitate to retire before paying off a child’s college or home mortgage.

Partner with a Financial Advisor and Get Retirement-Ready

Perhaps reading this has helped you realize you’re not ready just yet. That’s completely fine - but at some point, the day will come, whether you’re ready or not. That’s why you need to do some financial housekeeping before considering entering retirement. 

Consider working with a financial advisor such as a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) to create a plan so that you can feel confident and start working toward your goals. At Wealth Legacy Institute, we take a holistic approach to retirement planning, aligning your personal and lifestyle goals with your financial goals, so you can retire happy, healthy, and free!

Still not sure whether you’re ready for retirement? Take the “Retirement Readiness Quiz” to find out.

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