happy retired couple

Though many Americans expect to retire at age 66, according to a recent Gallup poll, the average age of retirement is 62, up from the previous average of 60. People are beginning to leave the workplace earlier than expected. In some cases, retirees leave early due to unforeseen health problems or company downsizing. Others retire early because their finances permit it and they’re ready for something new. Regardless of your reason for considering retirement, these questions can help you determine if you’re prepared to take that step.

“Can I afford it?”

Finances are possibly the biggest factor to consider as you look at retirement options. If your savings aren’t ready for retirement, then you should set aside some time to determine how to get them there. As you consider all of your retirement saving options, you can lay out a plan to get them in shape before your desired retirement age. Don’t guess when it comes to determining if your savings are sufficient. The job market can be hard on older employees, and you don’t want to count on having a job in your 70s in order to make ends meet.

“Are my debts paid off?”

Pending debts can hinder your retirement. Debts that you’re close to paying off or that you’ve calculated into your retirement budget shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you still have a ways to go until you pay off your mortgage or finally balance your credit cards, then you may want to reconsider early retirement. If you decide to retire while you’re still in debt, you’ll need to calculate whether your savings will be able to support that cost without additional income.

“Could I live off a retirement budget?”

To test the waters of retirement living, try living on a retirement budget for a few months. This is one way to test your finances and determine if your savings will really cut it for you. If you feel overly restricted or you end up tapping into savings or credit, you should rethink your budget and continue saving. Once retirement starts you won’t be able to reach into your savings whenever you want, and you’ll want to have enough saved to live comfortably.

“Do I have health insurance?”

Health costs rise as we age and without insurance from your work, you’ll need to determine how you will pay for your care. Though some employers offer retiree health benefits, you may not be able to count on those benefits. To help compensate for possible changes in an employee plan, make sure that you also have a backup plan. Medicare will kick in at age 65, but if you, like many others, retire before then, health care will be costly, especially without employee-subsidized insurance.

“Am I ready to leave work?”

Even if your bank account is ready for retirement, you may not be. Some people find great satisfaction and fulfillment in their work, and they’re not ready to stop. Though there are opportunities for volunteering or part-time work after retirement, you shouldn’t feel obligated to retire if you don’t want to. On the other hand, if you find that work takes more from you than it gives and your finances are in order, it may be time to start planning your exit.

“Do I want a very active retirement?”

How do you envision your retirement? Rest and relaxation or travel and adventure? If you’re planning an active retirement, the sooner you get started, the better. Some activities will become increasingly difficult and potentially more dangerous as you age. If you have the resources and you’re planning a travel-heavy retirement, you won’t want to wait until you’re 80.


There’s no ‘right’ age to retire. But there are ways to tell if the time is right for you. If you have the luxury of choosing when you leave the work force, be sure to consider these questions before you before you make the move.