Curtain Call: When’s the Right Time to Bow Out from Work?

Updated on December 26, 2019
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When you launch into your career head-on, retirement isn’t probably the first thing that popped into your mind. After all, you’re probably still young, full of energy and joie de vivre, ready to take on the world. You’ll probably change jobs like you change clothes for a while, trying to find your place in the world. However, if you find yourself successful financially along the way, is that the right time to hang up your hat?

The average age of retirement is 61 years old according to the management consulting company Gallup. On the other hand, it’s 63, according to US Census Bureau data. Either way that’s roughly 30 years more than when Garrett Gee sold his app for $54 million and decided to travel around the world with his family full-time. It’s also about three times the age of celebrities who retire and get unretired the next week.

Early retirement

Compared to how the Bucket List Family entered semi-retirement, doing work as professional vacationers and travel writers, there are those who enter retirement way too early. Some do it voluntarily, achieving their goal of having financial independence without having to do anything after. Others, however, are forced to do so because of unforeseen circumstances.

Tragic as it is, but early retirements can happen due to disabilities. Their physical or mental conditions might’ve deteriorated to the point that they call for home healthcare services and the like to help them get through the day. There are those who can’t get back to the workforce because their careers have stalled, they’ve been laid off, or other career-related reasons.

While some think that early retirement is living the life, when you’re forced into early retirement, it’s another story. Your savings and insurance premiums can only do so much once you retire; they won’t keep you healthy forever. When you run out of money, that’s when difficulty turns up to 11.

The right time

So, when’s the right time to retire?

According to researchers from Stanford University, it’s more beneficial for Americans to retire at 70. They calculated and compared what it would be like when a couple retires in five different scenarios: complete retirement at 62; working part-time or full-time until 66, which is when they reach their Social Security full retirement age; and working part-time or full-time until 70. They note that if you delay your retirement, even for just a few years, your retirement income can increase significantly.

NerdWallet’s Investing and Retirement Specialist Arielle O’Shea agrees with this, although she noted that Americans aren’t saving enough for their retirement. Moving your retirement age earlier or later will change how much you have saved. She stressed the importance of saving up for retirement, saying that it can “[give] yourself options,” such as pursuing a different career. Shifting careers can also be a good way to stave off the lingering shadow of retirement. If you’ve saved enough money, you can safely start a new career and earn extra money to invest in your retirement plan.

It’s easy to see the beauty of retirement in rose-colored glasses. However, living it early might change your mind. Being wise about how you spend and save your money can help you in the long run. Having a vacation every day might be the dream, but what will you do when you wake up with nothing saved up? At least, the Gees did it right. Continue earning your bread and retire when it’s the right time.

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