Retired Dopers: how did you decide when to retire?

Well, both are in order since this is a community property state, so half the nest egg left with her, but now she can mismanage it as she pleases. Seven years later I’m back where I was money wise.

I hear you. Between a booming stock market, a booming real estate market and not spending money traveling around to concerts and festivals, my net worth went up considerably. I can’t wait to start spending on experiences again.

Here’s an interesting interactive retirement calculator:

It estimates various probabilities of what your retirement balance will be as time goes on. The field for ‘extra income’ is where you can put in things like SS and at what age you’d start taking it. It also shows the death probability at different ages, which may also help with your decision of when to retire.

As others have indicated above, heath insurance coverage, current and future asset calculations and most importantly my wife’s wishes for retirement were the big factors in determining my retirement age.

I retired at 59 years old and my wife was 57. I was resistant to retire as I enjoyed working, and maintained that we couldn’t afford to leave my job - she had quit working two years previously. However, we crunched the numbers and she showed me that we were able financially to retire, especially since my retirement included full medical insurance for both of us up till I turned 65. That was the deciding factor, so we quit working, sold almost everything, and set off on an adventure.

The only glitch was that my insurance was no longer paid for at age 65, and as my wife didn’t yet qualify for medicare and had serious preexisting conditions, I needed to stay on my current insurance as a private person rather than as a member of a group from my former employment; this also included my wife. So we wound up paying about $1200.00 each month for 18 months until she reached age 65…celebration time as we registered for medicare together.

In retrospect things have worked out well. My initial goal for retirement was to have 85% of my pre retirement income, and we have exceeded that, but while mostly our financial security has been planned, we have certainly lived in times that allowed us to gain as the economy grew.

Best of luck to you.

I neglected to say as others have that my wife has been amazing over the years. She didn’t spend money we didn’t have, and didn’t spend money we did have. We only had one firm financial rule over the decades…spend less that you make, and invest to make that saved money grow. It has been a bit of a game for us; fortunately our rewards are not very costly in the first place, and the monies we did spend were carefully considered. I consider the traveling and other vacations as maintenance costs. But Family gave me a good focus rather than the latest shiny toy to buy. Note: I do like toys and have a few.

I think in the OP’s scenario, medical costs are going to be a HUGE deciding factor. I am assuming that you are the primary breadwinner and your wife does not have health coverage on her own, and she will retire at the same time you do. Obviously if that’s not the case, then it makes a big difference.

Unless your job (or your spouse’s) has some kind of support for retirees who are not yet eligible for Medicare, you’re looking at needing to fund health coverage for her for 3-5 years.

We’re lucky in that my husband and I are very close in age - so we’d only have a few months of his being non-Medicare eligible after I am.

For us: Factors to consider are:

  1. Who are we still supporting: in-laws are mid 80s and from long-live families, but require our financial support; two young-adult special needs children who are not yet independent
  2. Housing needs: we have more house now than we really need, though older kid will be returning from college (younger one is permanently moved to another state). Can we downsize to something that is less costly per month, while still staying in our general metropolitan area? (I’m not in love with the “move to xxx state because it’s cheaper” concept).
  3. Estimates of Social Security and retirement income; last time I talked with a planner, we looked to be “ok” if we retire somewhere between 65 and 67, as long as we keep saving at the current rate and our retirement accounts don’t completely tank.

We aren’t saving as much as we’d like, right now, due to the sandwich-generation thing; while I’d love it if the kids became self-supporting, the parents are not terribly likely to succeed at that and we’re truly not eager for them to die!!. But let’s say they win the lottery and have enough income to pay their own housing expenses, we could put all that into our 401(k)s and be close to retirement ready by 65 (we’re 61 now).

Frugality is important, I agree but I get the impression health care is the major determinant for whether you are going to retire before 65 or not. And it sucks.

I’d probably be at a point where I can partly retire and switch to part time work in my mid 40s if I didn’t have to worry about health insurance. But because of it I’ll probably be working until my mid/late 50s, if not later since theres no guarantee the ACA will be there decades from now.

In 2000, we bought property in AZ, thinking to retire “some day.”

In 2005, Mr VOW got sick. He developed seizure disorder, and had his license yanked for six months. It was impossible at times for him to get to work.

We did a lot of talking. Both of us worked for the State of Confusion, I mean, California, and we were both eligible for retirement.

He retired with 20 from the Army in 1988.

The housing market was INSANE in 2005, and we figured to sell our house and get ourselves established on our property. We needed everything: well, septic, solar…

So, at the end of 2005, I was 52 and he was 55, we retired.

The housing boom made a big SPLAT and we ended up losing our house. We had the unique experience of actually living with our kids! Oh, the stories we now can tell!

Honestly, our kids have been magnificent throughout.

In 2007, Mr VOW developed Parkinson’s.

We both applied for Social Security Disability. It took a helluva long time, but we were successful.

We have our home established in AZ, complete with well, septic, solar, DirecTV, and Internet. We spend part of the year there, and part of the year in SCal, living with The Daughter and her family. We come back to SCal for doctor visits.

It was extremely fortunate we were still in SCal in January 2020, when Mr VOW had his heart attack. While he was recuperating from that, COVID struck.

You have to expect the unexpected in the VOW family!


Thanks, VOW. Compared to you and your husband, my life’s boring. And the gamble I took retiring is NOTHING!

How are you doing now? (Especially Mr. Considerate-To-Have-His-Heart-Attack-In-SoCal…)


His biggest sacrifice has been his Coca-Cola. Everyone has been shocked how he gave it up so easily. I am the Food Nazi, and salt has been banished. He’s got an implanted defibrillator, and so far, things are stable.

Good thing I have learned how to cook without salt. My doctor informed me I now have CKD3. For years, I have teetered between CKD2 and CKD3. Now that I’m firmly intrenched in CKD3, I’ve decided to take all the diet restrictions to heart. It’s not going to be a fun trip. From what I’ve read so far, I’ll be living on boiled chicken and cauliflower. Yum.

Good news? We both have had COVID vaccines, 1 & 2.


(CKD = Chronic Kidney Disease)

My sister in law was hoping for the same thing. Hoping and hoping. She hated her job. She’s a few years younger than us. Well she got the call two days ago. Laid off. Yippee! She got a 3 month severance package. But her husband said she can’t retire just yet.

Still, yippee!

For me it came down to “do I really want to stay here working for the bitch who stole my promotion?” I was about to turn 62 and I decided no, I didn’t want to see her ugly face anymore and I’d have a pension based on 46+ years (40 years actual, 5 years purchased, another year and change for other public service). I knew I wasn’t one of The Chosen who get promotions and I would not be passing up any opportunities by leaving. I could afford it.
Then fate stepped in and a former boss offered me a job in a consulting firm, I now make more in salary than my former job plus I get my pension plus I can defer SS to collect a higher figure later. So actually it was a solid move both personally and financially.

It’s possible that there was some sort of circumstance that would have meant it made sense for his wife to work those 3-5 years no matter when he retired, so that him working an extra year or two wouldn’t have allowed his wife to retire sooner. There are a very few circumstances (like hitting the lottery for a few million ) where it would have made sense for me to retire before I was 55 and a half. I couldn’t collect my pension until I was 55 - and when I turned 55, I had 29.5 years of service toward my pension. Which meant my pension would be $12K a year less than it would have been once I had 30 years. My employer also covers most of my health insurance once I’m collecting that pension. Even if we had enough money for him to stop working when we were 50, it wouldn’t have made sense for me to retire then - and him working an extra year or two wouldn’t have mattered.

Not to beat a dead horse, but your example does not apply. Had the advisor said “she should retire in exactly Xyears when she reaches age Y or years of service Z”, then it would apply. But the advisor said “3 to 5 years”. I can’t think of a reason that would apply if not for uncertainty on money, which can be reduced by the poster working for another year.

I shattered a femur, and after a longish hospital stay, went back to work light duty. Then the doc did followup surgery and I never went back. I was working beyond the age normal people retire anyway, so it didn’t surprise anyone.

I guess I retired. I’m 53. I’m a general contractor. About 3 years ago I had a huge project in the offing, and then we discovered my mom had dementia (she hid it well, but we found years of unpaid bills). This became all-hands-on-deck not just for the dementia but for injury as well. We live 2000 miles from her and this became my job. It lasted a year and went as well as could be hoped for I guess. When she died she left us a decent sum of money to supplement our decent savings. In the meantime I had become seriously arthritic. Now I’m overseeing building us a new home in Montana and have no idea after that.

I’m planning to retire next year just before turning 60. I’ve never had kids or wives, or more importantly, ex-wifes, so everything I’ve earned is mine. I’m in the UK so no heath insurance worries. About the only financial mistake I’ve made was waiting too long to start working with a financial planner and move money out of low yield savings accounts into inventment bonds. One of my pension providers has an online planning tool to calculate retirement age. Both it and my financial planner agree that 59 is a good age for me to retire.

I’m going through an SAP conversion at work. We’re in about year 5, with go live in a month. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about retirement.

I’m 59, financially stable, only debt is a small mortgage on a rental house that currently is bringing in twice the mortgage amount. If I lived had healthcare, I’d retire tomorrow.


A very small part of my job involved teaching, and, man, is this the truth. Days that I taught classes left me drained in a way that no other types of days did.

Nice to work somewhere that overtime actually was paid. Makes me sick to think of the money I’d have if I’d been paid even straight time for all the extra hours I put in.

My most sincere condolences.

I retired at 61 and was more than happy to go. When things started going sour, I set up a meeting with a financial planner associated with my credit union. He looked at my numbers and said “you could retire today.” That immediately brightened my mood, so much so, that I lasted another couple of years after hearing that. I talked to a friend with who had an investment guy that she loved (and he was the third one she’d had in the 10-12 years she’d been retired at that time --she was picky). I only pay a tiny smidge over $100 a month ($102 IIRC) for medical including dental through the company.

No spouses. No kids. But I share a condo (mortgage paid off) with my sister, and she made only about half what I did. Fortunately, she has a good pension and health care covered by her work, too. She’s actually taking home more now since she retired (in 2019) than she did working. We get along fine financially. Biggest bills so far are for the dog.

I was 62 and working in an extremely stressful position as quality control manager for a $22M Corps of Engineers project. When I was hired by the company, the project was three months behind and we were hounded by those Corp fuckers every day to get it back on schedule. Yeah, in what world?

Anyway, after about nine months of this I went home one day and told my wife to check our finances because I was ready to call it quits for good. Her response was “Thank god, because you look like you’re about to have a stroke.” After reviewing the finances she said “Hey, ya know what? I’m retiring, too.”

Keep in mind that we had banked a significant amount over the 15 years we were married, and that I have military retirement medical that covers both of us. Between the drawdown from our IRA, a couple of meager retirement checks from government entities, and our SS, we’re more than comfortable.