Financial websites that try to tell you when is the best time to retire will say that you should start considering retirement when you calculate that you have enough income, through some magical combination of pensions, Social Security and investment income, to finance your present lifestyle. Simple. Most of the numbers I have seen say, to maintain your present lifestyle, this number should be equal to your present income, minus expenses associated with working, plus maybe some extra money set aside to take “that once in a lifetime” vacation or to splurge on an expensive car. Huh? Wait. What?
To begin with, RETIREMENT SHOULD NOT BE ABOUT MAINTAINING LIFESTYLE. If retirement is about maintaining your present lifestyle, why even bother? Retirement should be about change, new opportunities and expanding your comfort zones. Not maintaining anything and certainly not sitting back and ruminating about the past. And a “once in a lifetime” vacation and a fancy car? YOU ARE RETIRING! What are you supposed to take this “once in a lifetime” trip and then come home, buy a fancy car, sit in an easy chair and reminisce about the time you went to France?
Retirement should simply be a new chapter, not the last thing we do in our lives. Retirement is time to reinvent yourself, try new things and reward yourself with time you didn’t have before. Hopefully this will be high-quality time. If you want to travel, reward yourself by starting an open ended adventure, not a “once in a lifetime” ANYTHING. If you can afford to retire in the the United States, Europe or other developed countries, you can certainly become a wanderer, practically anywhere in the world, FOR AS LONG AS YOU CHOOSE. You can take up some new hobbies, expand your circle of friends, take up public speaking, run for office, learn to dance or take singing lessons. Retirement is a new beginning, do what you want, color outside of the lines. Again, to me the big question about retirement is – why would you want to retire AND continue your present lifestyle?
There is a medical term called minimal effective dose. Simply stated it is the smallest amount of medicine required to produce a desired outcome. Again, there are a number of variables involved, but if you apply this minimal effective dose concept to retirement, it simply means get out as soon as you can afford to. Reducing spending means the dose can be smaller and you can spend less time in the “salt mine”. Continuing to blindly consume thinking consumerism will make you happy means more time until you can begin anew. I am not a financial advisor, but I can say with confidence that retirement is about choices and if out of fear or other unknowns, you choose to delay new beginnings, YOU ARE WASTING YOUR MOST PRECIOUS ASSET OF ALL – YOUR TIME.
… and you can never get it back.