Retired Dopers: how did you decide when to retire?

I’m planning to retire in about 5-7 years. I’ll be 60 in a couple of months. My wife is 5 years younger. My plan is that when our savings hits out ‘magic number’, a number calculated by how many remaining years we plan to live X the amount of money we plan to need to spend each year, with Social Security and inflation factored in, then we can retire.

Is that pretty much how you do/did it? Is that good enough?

And, what about medical coverage? My wife is a Type 1 diabetic and has also had an organ transplant. We will need to ensure good coverage for her. Fortunately I’ve been fairly healthy. What do I need to get to ensure good medical coverage? Are there health management consultants that I will need to consult with?

Thanks. I want to have all our ducks lined up to reasonably ensure that we are set to retire.

I was looking forward to retiring at 65 so I would be able to get full benefits, but something happened and I walked out of my government job at 62.

That was not the best idea I have ever had, and you probably don’t want to do that. Hubs is eligible for VA medical and has Medicare plus supplements, I am not.

I am currently paying about 600 a month for full medical coverage and that’s through the state retirement plan.

OTOH, I am so very happy I didn’t have to work during the pandemic, I love being able to sleep until I wake up and I now have time to do all of the things I was putting off because of work. Retirement is amazing and awesome and I highly recommend it!

How did you decide this?

I should have retired at 65 because that was when I qualified for my State Pension. There was a scheme, however, that meant I could increase the pension by deferring it. For every year I waited they added 10%.

This is where you have to start thinking about your life expectancy - my math isn’t up to it but I researched it and deferred for 3 years and expect to be ‘in profit’ about now, 11 years later. I would be interested to know if anyone here could calculate it for me… It’s index linked so inflation can be ignored, but some account of the lost investment opportunity of three years of pension should be included. Back then 5% would have been realistic.

Like you, Bullitt, it came down to 1. Money & 2. Medical & 3. Spouse.

Money: My goal with my money was to replace my working-life net income with a 5% draw-down from retirement savings. I figured I didn’t need to match my working-life gross in the draw-down because of SS/Med/401k deductions going away. So, I too had a “magic number”. I was on pace to hit my number earlier than 65, then COVID happened and I was basically out of work (I was a contractor/consultant). The markets had been going great-guns and I blew past my number, so I up and retired at 60! My plan with Social Security is to put it off until I’m 70, so it will be a nice raise when it comes.

Medical: My spouse works and has worked and vested in various state and local government jobs and has medical insurance for life. So that’s nice.

Spouse: My spouse is younger and still working and will have a collection of pensions, and retirement savings, and eventually Social Security. So we should be set there too.

I made the decision twice. First time, I was 57 with 37 years of Federal service. My organization was about to go thru yet another reorganization, and I just didn’t want to deal with it, so I took my crayons and left. My husband was still working and I was able to carry our insurance when I retired, so financially, it worked.

But I got bored, and within a year, I was looking for work. Over the next 8 years, I had a series of temp jobs, part time jobs, and finally a really good full-time job with a great company. Then my daughter had a baby and I volunteered to be her day care, so at the end of 2019, with our savings padded further, another 401k to roll over, and some quality baby time facing me, I decided it was time to retire again.

Frankly, even if there had been no grandbaby, I probably would have retired then anyway. I was eligible to draw social security and I was getting tired of work. I still liked what I did and the people I worked with, but I was tired, so I knew it was time. No regrets. Second time was the charm.

My last career job ended when I was 50. I found part time employment rather quickly but could not latch on to another career position. When I turned 60 I realized I had basically aged out of career employment and “retired.”

I continued part time until 62 when I realized my IRA’s and 401(k) plans would easily carry me to age 65 for Medicare and 67 for Social Security.

I officially retired in both name and employment shortly after turning 62 1/2.

I semi retired at 49 - but it really wasn’t much of a decision - I had a significant mental health event that make it difficult to hold a full time career job. I was already doing a little side work on a business, and that has grown to be an income of about half what I made annually when I worked full time (at about four hours a week of work - from home, on my own schedule - its the perfect job for someone whose mental health can’t take a lot of stress). And my husband works full time (from home) - so he has good insurance (when I first retired, he was contracting and the business wasn’t up to speed - and we had two in high school - insurance was EXPENSIVE).

We were well prepared for it though - when my event happened, we had enough in 529s for the kids’ college and I’d been putting money into 401ks like crazy. We also have what I started as a “play money” stock fund that is larger than most IRAs. And my mortgage is $300 a month.

One of us will have to continue to work “for insurance” until we get to Medicare age. Although we could go on the exchange and probably do OK now that the kids are adults as long as my business partner wants to keep working.

I wanted to retire the moment the 737 program was shut down in 2018. I was correct in my assumption, the factory support job I fought to get was going away. I thought my chance came May of last year when Boeing offered a voluntary layoff to Machinist Union members but my job code was excluded. I then put plans in place to retire officially on January 1st of this year. Boeing announced a second VLO for October and I jumped all over it. Extended health benefits for 3 months and 26 weeks of pay. On October 2nd, the day before my 64th birthday, I left Boeing with exactly 40 years of service. I knew things were going bad at Boeing but the topper happened about a month before I left. Upper management released a memo, there was to be no retirement recognition for anyone taking the VLO. On our last day a group of us was walked to the gate and basically kicked in the ass on our way out. Got me a nice pension and plenty of savings till I can start drawing SS in a couple years.

I did what the OP is planning with an extra level of caution: I got a financial planner (in my 50s) who’d have to agree that, given future prognostications, it was okay to retire.

Well, one day she called me and my wife in and said “According to my spreadsheets, you should retire today, and your wife in three to five years.”

“Well, wait,” said I, “I can make it a couple more years. We have a wedding to fund and I can put up with my job say… two more years?”

And I still remember her staring at her spreadsheet, running her finger along it and saying “Nope…”


“Nope, won’t make a bit of difference in the long run if you retire in two years, or on Monday.”

I worked at one company for the last 34 years of my career, during which time I mostly had increasing responsibility and respect. My last boss but one, several years before I was to retire, for reasons of her own which I’m still not sure about, started gradually cutting me out of anything new that I normally would have been involved in (my job was tech support for a large end user department, and she cut me out of Salesforce when it came in, which was a huge deal). By the time she left, I only had enough work to fill maybe 50% of my time. After she left, there was a reorg during which they forgot about me entirely, which I sweetly pointed out to the VP who issued the memo. The boss under whom I landed did not know or care who I was and never even so much as talked to me, when she came into our 2-person office to talk to my office-mate.

I had been going to wait until the end of the month of my 66th birthday to get full SS benefits, but I figured out I could afford not to, so I left 10 months early. Management couldn’t have cared less; in fact, they were happy because now they were saving my considerable salary, and my 9 months of accumulated sick leave was no longer on the books as a liability.

As for me, it felt like getting out of jail. I spent every day of those 10 months (and the ensuing 5+ years) feeling blessed to be rid of the place. It was actually a good place to work on balance, and I was lucky to have survived several waves of layoffs in the early aughts (I worked at a newspaper cum internet media site). But I was perceived as “old guard” I guess, since I still loved print, and was no longer particularly valued or welcome.

tl;dr version: they gently pushed me out, and so I went.

I’m counting the days until retirement – tentatively set for mid-July. I haven’t given my employer notice yet, but I’m looking forward to that immensely.

I’m 67, my wife is 60. Getting her onboard has been slow and gradual – she’s concerned about making our money last (naturally) and is also concerned that I’ll be a useless lump laying around the house all day until she’s ready to retire. (OK, that’s a bit harsh. :slight_smile: )

I put together a spreadsheet, with our current expenses, projected income, total assets, etc…that shows our funds will last at least 50 years. So we should be good. She didn’t believe it until she heard the same thing from our financial advisor.

Harsh? No, I’d take that as a dare…

Seriously, I retired a year ago and went from decades of being a busy guy to someone with a skill that I didn’t know I had:

The ability to sit on a porch and stare out at the neighborhood for hours at a time.

The good part of that is that I had a fear of being bored and unmotivated. But now that I’m enjoying being bored and unmotivated, no fear!

'Scuse me, I should prahhhhbably go find something constructive to do…

I have visions of spending my days in the lobby of our building reading a newspaper and spewing out nonsense to anyone who passes by, like the Major in Fawlty Towers.

I have spent my entire 40+ year career in dread of impending layoffs. I was technically laid off once, briefly, but immediately found a lateral position within the same company. And then last year I was hit again…but my company then quietly decided to postpone any staff reductions, due to the pandemic, just out of decency. I’m hanging around this year just in hopes that I’ll get laid off again – so I can retire and also collect a severance package. :slight_smile: Doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen, though. So from a career standpoint, I feel like I’ve managed to cross a finish line.

Can anyone explain Medicare? Should I sign up for Part A now, even though I don’t need it? What exactly is Medicare Advantage?

They made me an offer I could not refuse. Not just me, but anyone in my position. Here was the deal. First, 75% of my salary for the 25 months till I turned 65. Second, getting an annuity at the insanely high rate they had been offering that was going to go down on Jan. 1, 2000 and giving it to me as though I was already 65, not just short of 63. Together with my retirement savings and regular savings, this was just too good to turn down. Twenty one years later, it was one of the best things (financially, I mean) I ever did. I have already drawn over 160% of my retirement account and counting.

I was 55 in October of 2019. Something happened at work that absolutely infuriated me. Coincidentally, I had a lunch planned with a long time friend a couple of days later and I vented to him. Besides that incident, a new CEO had taken over who was a disingenuous fucking prick and he was slowly making what was a great place to work progressively shittier. My friend said, “why don’t you retire?” I told him that I don’t have enough money. He said, “I bet that you do, call my financial guy.”

I drove to work, called the financial guy from the parking lot and gave him my particulars. He said, “I’m 95% sure that you can retire tomorrow.” I was gobsmacked. Over the next couple of weeks I sent him all of my info and we met and it was true. Fuck work. You don’t have to tell me twice. I gave my boss six months notice and retired on May 1st, 2020. That enabled me to max out my 401k matching one more year and cash out one more round of stock grants.

My plans of spending my days going to concerts and music festivals is a bit on hold but I have not regretted that decision for even one microsecond.

I retired at the end of 2019 at 56 years old, but we started thinking about retirement when I turned 50. I’d landed in a good-paying job a few years before that, and had paid off the mortgage that same year, which meant it was suddenly feasible at some future date.

To figure out that date, we got a financial planner to walk us through all the considerations, and I ended up making up a spreadsheet that got me to year 70 (when I’d hypothetically be forced to start drawing down my 401K), showing both cash flows & net worth. That included tracking actual expenses by category, projecting expenses forward, and loading in some conservatism just in case.

The absolutely biggest consideration was medical, and that alone probably delayed us a year. We ended up convincing ourselves that we’d be able to find coverage in the Massachusetts market, but because I want a high-deductible program, that ended up being really tough - I ended up instead sticking with my company’s un-subsidized insurance, which is expensive, but good. I’m pretty sure that was an unusual option.

Given your circumstances, you’re right to be concerned with that piece. My experience was that there are plenty of financial advisors who could help you figure that out as part of a much larger engagement, but that’s expensive; I’m not sure if there’s someone who just focuses on health management. But at a minimum, it would be great if someone could help you just get a starting list of medical coverage options post-retirement…

My wife and I are 55 and aiming to “retire” by 60.
The first step is to figure out what you will spend in retirement. Be conservative. Health costs will be important.
Then figure out your income during retirement outside of investment income. Pension, social security, annuities, rental, whatever.
Take the difference, and that is what your investment income needs to be.
Then assume that you will live forever; :slight_smile: Seriously, some pretty solid studies show that if you withdraw 4% of your investments every year, it will last a very long time.
Take your annual investment income need, multiply it by 25 (or divide by .04) and that is your “magic number” for retirement.
Finally, show the analysis to a good financial advisor. 95% of them will want to manage your investments and give you “free” advice. Find the 1% that will provide advice for a fixed fee, but not try to hook you into something else (unless that is really what you want). I paid $300 for an hour, and it was worth it.

In practice, we may retire at 60 and work part time to pay for insurance and lack of Social Security until Medicare kicks in, and when we decide to start SocSec. That affects your magic number, but nothing a simple spreadsheet can’t clarify.

Medical problems decided for me. I’ve spent years getting sick, then recovering, but never making it all the way back. And each time once I developed some new optimism and something else would happen and I’d be back to square one. The last time I just said forget it. I can retire, I will.