Dear Garden State Trust:
I’m old enough to retire, but I’m not sure I’m ready yet. I think I have strong financial resources, but I don’t know if they are enough to make me financially independent for the rest of my life. Retirement seems so terribly uncertain to me. When should I make the jump?
—Standing on the Cusp
First off, your situation is quite common, your hesitation quite understandable. Many people are working well into their retirement years, longer than they expected to when they began their careers. In some cases, financial necessity is the driver, but in other cases, a few more years of work may result in a retirement that is substantially more comfortable, making luxuries affordable.
Do you get personal satisfaction from your job? Are the daily job stresses outweighed by your sense of accomplishment? If not, do you expect that to change?
Keep in mind that for most retirees, tax obligations go down, sometimes dramatically. So the financial resources that you’ve accumulated may go farther than you realize.
Finally, how is your health? How long did your parents live? That information may help you to estimate your own longevity. What are the things that you hope to do with the rest of your life? How much time might that take?
Sorting through questions such as these may help you to determine the optimal date for beginning your retirement.
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